2017-18 Signal Sports Awards: Most Exciting Player of the Year

Hart dual-sport athlete CJ McMullen broke the Indians’ single-season sack record in football and placed sixth in discus at the CIF state meet. Courtesy Stephanie Shrout

By Natalie Gilmore
For The Signal


Earning the ‘Most Exciting Athlete’ title came as no surprise to anyone who knows Hart’s football and track and field grad CJ McMullen. With his dual-sport high school career and engaging personality, McMullen was an athlete built for the big-game moments.

Under the Friday night lights and on the turf at Granada Hills Charter High school, Hart Football rallied behind McMullen’s defensive strength once again. McMullen did what he does best and tore through the offensive line to earn seven sacks and lead his team to defeat Sierra Canyon 21-7.

McMullen was no stranger to opposing team’s quarterbacks, recording at least one sack in every game played (12). In his senior season, the defensive lineman shattered the Hart Football record for most sacks in a season with 24.

“I knew I was pretty close to the school record, which was 19,” McMullen said. “So honestly my goal at the beginning of the season was to help my team win and earn the sack record along the way.”

MORE: 2017-18 Signal Sports Awards: Male Athlete of the Year

Hart’s triumph over Sierra Canyon in the first round of playoffs sent them to the second round of the Division 3 CIF-Southern Section postseason tournament against Rancho Verde before being eliminated.

“The goal all year was to beat Sierra Canyon. We were going back and forth on social media leading up to it and the whole team went out on fire,” McMullen said. “I happened to have a good night and helped us get the win.”

By the arrival of springtime and with graduation lurking around the corner, McMullen took his discus abilities to a new level. The dual-sport athlete had personally groundbreaking seasons in both football and track and field as a senior.

He claimed the CIF-SS Masters Meet title in discus with a throw of 184 feet, six inches and came in sixth place at the CIF state meet. McMullen was one of a few Foothill League athletes who qualified for the Masters meet and the only Hart student to qualify. He was also the only representative of Hart at the CIF State Meet.

Hart’s CJ McMullen competes in discus at the CIF-Southern Masters Meet Saturday, May 26. McMullen placed sixth in discus at the CIF state meet. Eddy Martinez/The Signal.

When asked about the legacy he is leaving at Hart, McMullen said, “I’ve broke a couple records and I was a top-three discus thrower. I was a dual-athlete, worked hard, and was successful in both sports. So I think I’m a prime example of who a two-sport athlete wants to be.”

“It’s really cool to see all my hard work recognized,” McMullen said. “It’s really humbling and I am honored to be chosen for this award.”

Moving forward, McMullen will be pursuing an athletic career in track and field at the collegiate level.

“Throwing is just something that I really love and have a lot of fun doing,” McMullen said. “I felt like I could compete in college while still focusing on school. So I decided at the beginning of this year that I was going to put in a lot of work be as a prepared as I could going into college athletics.”

McMullen will be attending Northern Arizona University in the fall to pursue his bachelor’s degree and compete on the track and field team, throwing discus.

Inside the Ballot Box

CJ McMullen Hart football/track 5 6 1 12
Adrian McIntyre Saugus hoops 10 0 1 11
Jalin Lewis GV football 5 0 1 6
Taylor Moorehead Hart girls soccer 0 3 0 3
Will Chambers WR baseball 0 3 1 4

Key: First place: 5 points, Second place: 3 points, Third place: 1 point

Past Most Exciting Athletes of the Year

2016-17 — Nick Moore (Hart)
2015-16 — Chibuzo Ikonte (Valencia)
2014-15 — Jay Jay Wilson (Valencia)
2013-14 — Lewis Stallworth and Connor Wingenroth (Hart)

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