Franklin County High School senior Lucas Sasnett was one of 15 North Florida High School seniors honored at the annual Biletnikoff Award Banquet Feb. 10, the first FCHS senior ever awarded this $6,500 scholarship.
The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation held its 24th annual Biletnikoff Award at the University Club Center at Doak Campbell Stadium, to honor 2017 Biletnikoff Award winner James Washington of Oklahoma State, as well as area high schoolers who have been named Foundation scholarship winners.
The Biletnikoff Award -- voted on by more than 600 college football journalists, commentators and former winners of the award -- is given annually to the best receiver in college football, regardless of position.
Keynote speaker -- NFL Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little – presented Washington with the award at Saturday's banquet. Washington led all receivers with 1,549 receiving yards in 2017 and added 13 touchdowns, tied for fourth-most in the nation.
Washington was named the winner over fellow finalists David Sills of West Virginia and Colorado State's Michael Gallup at the Home Depot College Football Awards Dec. 7.
The list of past Biletnikoff winners is filled with players that went on to have extended NFL success including Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson, Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.
The Foundation -- which has given out more than 200 scholarships to local students -- selected 15 scholarship recipients this year.
In addition to Sasnett, recipients includes Paxton Blair, Charles Hunter and Destiny Williams, all from Blountstown High School; Vivian Bolen, Jared Pichard and Lee Williams, all from Maclay School; Morgan Comer from John Paul II Catholic High School; Shanice Francis from Godby High School; Audrey Hendrix from Home Life Academy; Cecilia Hernandez from Madison County High School; Josiah Porter from Gadsden County High School; Tanya Prieto from Cottondale High School; Juliana Rezek from Graceville High School; and Claire Thaler, from Leon County Virtual High School
The Foundation's charitable mission is to provide college or vocational scholarships to North Florida high school seniors who have overcome significant barriers to achieve at the highest academic and extracurricular levels.
"It kind of mirrors Fred Biletnikoff," said Walter Manley II, chairman of the Selection Committee. "He had challenges to overcome (in size and speed), but he did and he became one of the great receivers of all time."
Each scholarship ranges in size from $6,500 to $13,000.
A supporting partner foundation -- The Southern Scholarship Foundation -- makes a highly valuable housing grant available to each eligible scholar as well. Since 1994, the Foundation has given away around $2 million to area high schoolers.
“It was a great experience he will never forget,” said Lucas’ mom, Betty Sasnett. “All the seniors also received a congratulatory letter for State Senator Bill Montford. This is a great honor and a financial blessing that will help him to pursue his goals of being an ophthalmologist here in Franklin County.”
Sasnett begins work next month at Florida State University, working toward his bachelor of science in biology.
Betty Sasnett said the seniors met with Washington, “who is a very humble, awesome young man that, like our seniors, worked hard to get where he is today.
“We greatly enjoyed listening to him and his heartfelt story of growing up on a farm in Texas,” she said. “We also met Fred Biletnikoff and his wife, Angela, as well as Floyd Little. They were great inspirational speakers and we really enjoyed listening to their success stories and watching clips of their football highlights. They all made time for the seniors, answered questions, took pictures with them and autographed their banquet programs.”
She said in addition to enjoying a great meal, each of the seniors’ stories were told, and each stood at the end to be celebrated.
“Each senior has overcome significant life-changing barriers to get where they are today and this was a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of their accomplishments,” she said. “It was a great honor to be included in this celebration.”