Wendy's released its state finalists for its 2012 High School Heisman Award on Thursday, and included in the list was Daniel Johnson.
Johnson is a middle linebacker and a captain on the football team, and he also plays infield and pitches while serving as a captain on the Panthers' baseball team.
"I just found out about it, but I sure am honored," said Johnson while preparing for weight training class on Thursday afternoon. "I'm really proud and really proud of the opportunities Ridgeland High School has given me. I'm still not sure what all this means yet, but I'm very excited. God really does some amazing things."
In the classroom, he excels as a member of the Ridgeland High School Honors Academy and carries a perfect 4.0 grade point average. He credits the Honors Academy for pushing him to succeed.
"The Academy has been very influential for me," he said. "They have pushed me to do things I never thought I would be able to achieve."
Johnson has been a class officer for four years and is serving as president of the Student Government Association this year. He is a member of the National Honor Society, the Future Business Leaders of America, and was selected for the state's Governor's Honors Program. This past January, Johnson was one of just two Georgians selected to participate in the United States Senate Youth Program.
Now in its 19th year, the Wendy’s High School Heisman is one of the most esteemed awards at the high school level.
Of the 45,000 seniors who applied nationwide, 1,763 were from Georgia, and from those, only 20 were selected as state finalists.
According to a press release, the finalists "embody the Heisman spirit of hard work and dedication through their outstanding achievements in athletics, academics and community/school leadership."
These finalists are now in the running to become state winners, which will be announced on Nov, 5. It is the next phase of the program as applicants advance to become national winners.
Of those state winners, 12 will be chosen as national finalists and will go on to compete for the national winner title in New York City on December 7.
National finalists will be featured during a televised ceremony on the ESPN networks and will receive gold medals and $2,000 awards for their high schools. One male and one female national winner will receive a crystal Wendy’s High School Heisman trophy, a $500 gift certificate to Wendy’s, and Wendy’s will donate $10,000 to each winner’s respective high school. Additionally, the winners will be recognized during the collegiate Heisman Trophy broadcast on ESPN, Dec. 8.
Created in 1994 by Wendy’s and the Heisman Memorial Trust, the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award recognizes outstanding high school seniors nationwide who excel in athletics, academics and community leadership.
Students can nominate themselves for the award online, in addition to being recommended by principals, teachers, guidance counselors and coaches. The most exceptional students are then selected to advance during extensive judging processes conducted at both state and national levels.
Johnson is one of two seniors from Region 7-AAAA to be named as state finalists. The other is Makayla Angel of Pickens High School.