This morning, we unveil our initial "Watch List" for our third annual ESPN Boston Mr. Football Award, presented annually to the state's top overall player.
Last year, Everett quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso took the award unanimously, beating out Catholic Memorial's Armani Reeves, Duxbury's Matt O'Keefe, Chelmsford's Tim Joy and Springfield Putnam's Melquawn Pinkney. In 2010, Everett wideout Matt Costello won the inaugural award after catching for 1,301 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Check back with us each Monday during the season, as we put out our weekly "Mr. Football Watch" tracking the contenders and highlight others potentiall on the rise.
The five finalists for the Mr. Football Award will be announced after Week 10 of the high school season. The winner will be announced on the Monday following the MIAA Super Bowls, and will be honored at Gillette Stadium before the Patriots' December 10 home game.
Here is the first ESPN Boston Mr. Football Watch List of the 2012 season:
Jon Baker, Jr. OL/DL, Millis/Hopedale
Dominant two-way lineman already claims offers from UMass, Boston College and UConn, and has interest from Michigan and Virginia.
Drew Belcher, Jr. QB, Reading
6-foot-4, 200-pounder one of the state's most punishing dual-threat signal-callers.
Vincent Burton, Sr. RB, Blue Hills
Randolph native has 54 rushing touchdowns since the start of 2010, more than any other active player in the state over that time.
Kenny Calaj, Sr. RB/LB, Everett
Transitioning to the Crimson Tide's feature back role, he's got plenty of sizzle, and will have the benefit of a hefty line.
Ozzy Colarusso, Sr. ATH, Weymouth
Versatile scatback plays every skill position for the Wildcats, and accumulated 17 touchdowns last season.
Sha'ki Holines, Sr. LB, Springfield Commerce
UConn-bound linebacker registered 132 tackles and six sacks last season.
Zach Hume, Sr. LB, Nashoba
Registered 122 tackles last season for the 13-0 Division 2 Super Bowl champs, and has varied Division 1 interest.
Maurice Hurst, Sr. DT, Xaverian
290-pound, Michigan-bound Canton resident is widely considered the state's best three-technique. He'll even carry the ball more, after last year's experiment with St. John's (Shrewsbury) led to 220 yards rushing.
John Montelus, Sr. OT, Everett
Notre Dame-bound road grader is considered one of the best left tackles in the Northeast, and will lead a line that among the nation's heaviest at nearly 318 pounds across.
Peter Ngobidi, Sr. DL/LB, Catholic Memorial
One of the better edge-setters around, UMass-bound defensive athlete is at least one ESPN Boston correspondent's pick as the state's best defensive lineman.
Marcus Odiah, Sr. RB, Burlington
His combination of speed and acceleration is matched by few backs in Eastern Mass.
Nick Peabody, Sr. QB, Barnstable
Led the Red Raiders to their first playoff appearance in a decade last season, in part-time duty.
Jared Taylor, Sr. RB/NG, Mashpee
Shot to the top of everyone's list after gassing Cardinal Spellman for a Gillette Stadium record 308 yards in the Division 4 Super Bowl.
Hunter Taute, Sr. RB/LB, Xaverian
Intimidating leader of the Hawks' defense, and will be a force at running back at 240 pounds.
Jonathan Thomas, Jr. RB, St. John's Prep
Already picking up Division 1 interest, poised for a breakout season in Jim O'Leary's rushing attack.
Quron Wright, Sr. RB, Holy Name
Lilliputian scatback needs 1,300 yards to surpass Emil Igwenagu's all-time rushing yards mark at the school.