The Mission Veterans football season ended Dec. 8, but the acknowledgements and accolades have continued to roll in several days later.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine, sometimes referred to as “The Bible of Texas Football,” selected Mission Veterans senior quarterback Landry Gilpin as the publication’s 2018 Mr. Texas Football Player of the Year award winner Monday afternoon. The award is given annually to what the magazine believes to be the top high school football player in the state of Texas.
The first Mr. Texas Football award was handed out in 2007.
“It’s one of those feelings that you won’t feel very often in your life,” Gilpin said when he first learned that he won. “On the video they (the magazine) had recorded, I was in shock and overwhelmed with emotion. I couldn’t find the words in my head to answer the questions they were asking me. I looked over and my dad was there with me. It was a special moment.”
“There are over 1,400 high schools in Texas and over 250,000 football players in the state,” Landry’s father and Mission Veterans coach David Gilpin said. “To have a kid mentioned in the conversation for best player in the state, and much less win the award, that’s a pretty unique honor.”
During 14 games in 2018, Gilpin threw for 4,544 passing yards and 50 touchdowns, which tied a Valley record. He also ran for 2,112 yards and 32 touchdowns on the season.
Gilpin’s best moment of the year took place in the Patriots’ 62-55 win in their Class 5A Division I Regional Semifinal against the previously undefeated Corpus Christi Veterans Eagles on Dec. 1 at The Alamodome in San Antonio.
Gilpin threw for 445 yards and five touchdowns in the game and rushed for 267 yards and two more touchdowns. His efforts helped propel Mission Veterans into the fourth round of the playoffs for the first time in school history. The win meant the Patriots were the last Rio Grande Valley team standing in the UIL state football playoffs.
The magazine announced Gilpin as one of 10 finalists for the award along with players representing the Greater Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, East Texas and Austin areas on Dec. 10.
“Picking the Mr. Texas Football Player of the Year is one of the most difficult things we have to do every year. We’re talking about a quarter-million football players and we have to pick one,” Dave Campbell’s Texas Football managing editor Greg Tepper said. “We felt strongly here at the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football offices that what Landry Gilpin did at Mission Veterans Memorial, not only the absurd numbers he put up but where he guided them to a place previously unheard of, put him in the conversation among the best in Texas. In my mind, he was the most outstanding Texas high school football player in 2018.”
Winning the Mr. Texas Football Player of the Year award puts Landry Gilpin in a select group of all-time greats in Texas high school football lore. The first winner of the award was Lamar Consolidated running back Jacquizz Rodgers in 2007, who went on to play at Oregon State. Rodgers is currently a tailback for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Former Austin Lake Travis, Texas and SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who has the fifth-most passing yards in Texas high school football history (12,534), was handpicked in 2008. Another former Texas Longhorn, running back Johnathan Gray of Aledo, earned the honor after finishing his career with 10,889 rushing yards (second-most rushing yards all-time in Texas high school football) in 2011.
“Those are legends that have come before me, and I’m sure there will be more that come after,” Landry Gilpin said. “Seeing my name there associated with all of those names is going to be crazy for not only my family, friends and anybody I’m close to. It’s going to be a blessing for a lifetime.”
Two other quarterbacks who won the Mr. Texas Football award went on to have successful careers in NCAA Division I football: former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2010 winner) and current Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray was the award’s first two-time winner in 2013 and 2014. Manziel and Murray are also Heisman Trophy winners.
Similar to Manziel and Murray when they graduated from high school, Gilpin is a sub-six-foot tall quarterback with a gunslinger’s mentality and feet quick enough to turn a broken play into long touchdown runs.
“There are two things that stand out to me about those two guys (Manziel and Murray) and Landry Gilpin. One of those is that the measurables are not going to wow you,” Tepper said. “Landry, in a lot of ways, doesn’t pass the eye test because he’s not very tall. But what I have always said about Kyler Murray and Johnny (Manziel) is that they play bigger than they look. Landry Gilpin played a lot bigger than he looks.
“He has a feel for the moment. When the spotlight gets brighter and the stage gets bigger, they play better. That’s what Landry did against Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial in the regional semifinals. This round is when Rio Grande Valley teams lose, just look at the history. But on that stage, they needed every bit of brilliance that Landry Gilpin could give them and he gave them more than they needed. That’s the same thing people saw with Kyler Murray and Johnny Manziel. That is what set Landry Gilpin apart.”
Gilpin is the first Mr. Texas Football Player of the Year to represent the Valley. There has not been another winner from any school south of San Antonio before this year.
“I know the Valley is a family, so I’m incredibly honored to represent the Valley as a whole,” Landry Gilpin said. “The community was proud of the things we did as a team this year. We’re gonna live it up.”
Gilpin will formally receive his award at the Academy Sports and Outdoors Texas Bowl on Dec. 27 at NRG Stadium in Houston.