One of the biggest individual honors a high school football player can receive is Mr. Football USA, the title bestowed upon the nation’s most outstanding player each fall by ESPNHS.
Below is a look at the top candidates in the chase for the 2011 Mr. Football USA. Every Tuesday during the regular season we’ll update the totals of many leading contenders as well as examine some of the new names that are emerging as strong contenders.
RB Johnathan Gray, Aledo (Aledo, Texas)
This week: The new No. 1 rated running back in the updated ESPNU 150, Gray 20 times for 160 yards and four touchdowns while also catching three passes for 128 yards and another score in Aledo's 49-3 win over Azle (Azle, Texas).
Season totals: 148 carries for 1,964 yards and 37 touchdowns rushing, 16 catches for 346 yards and four scores receiving; Aledo is 6-2
Stock – Same: Gray’s continues to accumulate single-season and career stats that jump off the page. He now has scored 1,058 career points, placing him No. 3 all-time nationally and just 18 points (three touchdowns) behind No. 2 on the list, former NC State running back T.A. McLendon. He also tied the all-time Texas state mark with his 43rd career 100-yard rushing game.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
This week: The nation’s No. 1 ranked WR by ESPNU had his eighth 100-yard game of the year Friday, catching nine passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns and also scored on a 27-yard reverse in Hillcrest's 56-6 rout of Marshfield (Marshfield, Mo.).
Season Totals: 87 catches for 1,682 yards and 17 touchdowns, one rushing touchdown; team is 8-1
Stock – Slightly Up: Green-Beckham is now up to 5,806 career receiving yards and is just 62 yards away from breaking the national career receiving yardage record held by former Evangel Christian (Shreveport, La.) WR Abram Booty.
DE Mario Edwards Jr., Denton Ryan (Denton, Texas)
This week: Edwards, the top-ranked recruit nationwide by ESPNU, had four tackles and two sacks as Denton Ryan humbled crosstown rival Denton (Denton, Texas) 45-7 on Friday night.
Season totals: 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles; team is 8-0 and No. 39 in the POWERADE FAB 50
Stock – Slightly Up: Edwards has been facing a ton of speculation recently on how strong his commitment to Florida State is, but there's no question about how strong his play on the field is after another multiple sack outing Friday.
QB Alec Morris, Allen (Allen, Texas)
This week: Morris found Oliver Pierce from 16 yards out with just eight seconds remaining to secure a dramatic 38-35 win over previously undefeated district rival Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas) Friday night. The Alabama commit finished the shootout 17-of-30 for 343 yards and four touchdowns with 84 yards and another score on the ground.
Season totals: 141-of-226 for 2,221 yards and 29 touchdowns with two interceptions, 238 yards and five touchdowns rushing; team is 8-0 and No. 3 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Up: Morris showed his stuff in a big way while facing adversity Friday night, not blinking and taking his team down the field for a last second win to keep Allen's national title hopes alive.
RB T.J. Yeldon, Daphne (Daphne, Ala.)
This week: Yeldon, the nation’s No. 7 rated back by ESPNU and an Auburn commit, and his Daphne teammates suffered their first loss Friday night, 38-28 to McGill-Toolen (Mobile, Ala.) and fell out of this week's POWERADE FAB 50. The loss was no fault of Yeldon's however, as the versatile back ran 21 times for 181 yards and all four Daphne touchdowns while also catching five passes for 100 yards and even completing a pass for 30 yards.
Season totals: 160 carries for 1,773 yards and 25 touchdowns rushing, 11 receptions for 157 yards and two scores; team is 8-1
Stock – Up: Despite the loss, Yeldon's star continues to shine. If Daphne can bounce back and still advance to the 6A state title game, he's on pace to become the first Class 6A back to rush for 3,000 yards in Alabama history.
ON THE RADAR
ATH Stefon Diggs, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
This week: Diggs had a quiet day Saturday as Good Counsel received a tougher test than expected from St. John's (Washington, D.C.), emerging with a tough 28-14 win. Diggs caught just one pass for six yards, rushed twice for 18 yards and also ran in two two-point conversions.
Season totals: 29 receptions for 626 yards and seven touchdowns, 83 yards and one touchdown rushing, one punt return touchdown, 23 tackles and three interceptions; team is 8-0 and ranked No. 6 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Down: A big-time talent, Diggs needs a big-time finish to the season over the next few weeks to stay in the Mr. Football USA mix.
RB D.J. Foster, Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
This week: Foster had another huge night Friday, rushing 23 times for 295 yards and five scores as Saguaro outslugged Arcadia (Phoenix) 70-35.
Season Totals: 138 carries for 1,883 yards and 38 touchdowns, 187 yards and two touchdowns receiving, one kick return touchdown and a fumble return touchdown; team is 8-1.
Stock – Slightly Up: Foster has set the table for himself and with a big game this week versus 5A power and crosstown nemesis Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.), he could make a legitimate case for contention.
QB Gunner Kiel, Columbus East (Columbus, Ind.)
This week: Kiel made more news by re-opening his recruitment on Friday than he did on the field, as he sat out Columbus East's 49-21 win over Shelbyville (Shelbyville, Ind.) in the opening round of the state 4A playoffs with a minor injury. It was reported that Kiel could have played if needed.
Season Totals: 89-of-164 passing for 1,718 yards and 20 touchdowns with two interceptions, with 331 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns in nine games; team is 9-1.
Stock – Down: While the goal of state title is still one game closer, being on the sideline for part of the journey doesn't help Kiel's cause.
RB Rushel Shell, Hopewell (Aliquippa, Pa.)
This week: The recent Pitt commit had another big outing Friday night, rushing 18 times for 226 yards and four touchdowns as the Warriors kept their playoff hopes alive with a 49-0 whitewashing of Ambridge (Ambridge, Pa.).
Season totals: 206 carries for 1,542 yards and 16 touchdowns, one receiving touchdown; team is 5-3, missed one game with a concussion.
Stock – Same: Shell had another big regular season outing; he'll need several huge playoff games to jump into serious consideration.
RB Trey Williams, Dekaney (Spring, Texas)
This week: Klein (Klein, Texas) was the latest school to surrender a big night to Williams, as the Texas A&M pledge ran 12 times for 161 yards and four first half touchdowns in an easy 42-10 victory.
Season totals: 185 carries for 1,762 yards and 21 touchdowns with two receiving touchdowns; team is 7-1.
Stock – Same: Williams has topped 100 yards every game out and will look for nine straight versus fellow Texas A&M commit and close friend QB Matt Davis and Klein Forest (Houston) this week.
QB Jameis Winston, Hueytown (Hueytown, Ala.)
This week: Winston had another machine-like effort Friday night in a 53-6 rout of Woodlawn (Birmingham, Ala.), completing 9-of-10 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing 11 times for 82 yards and a score.
Season Totals: 121-of-177 for 1,742 yards and 22 touchdowns with four interceptions, 776 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing, one touchdown reception; team is 10-0.
Stock – Slightly Up: Winston's body of work grows stronger each week and he has his team currently sitting atop the 5A state rankings. Hueytown has also captured its first region title since 1975.
SMALL SCHOOL STAT KINGS
QB Neal Burcham, Greenbrier (Greenbrier, Ark.)
This week: Burcham had another efficient outing Friday, completing 28-of-33 passes for 381 yards and three touchdowns as Greenbrier routed Alma (Alma, Ark.) 49-17 in a matchup of two teams unbeaten in conference play.
Season Totals: 174-of-242 for 2,816 yards and 33 touchdowns with two interceptions and three rushing touchdowns; team is 8-0
Stock – Slightly Up: Burcham and the Panthers will have their biggest test to date this fall on Friday versus 8-0 state power Greenwood (Greenwood, Ark.) for the 5A-West title.
QB Maty Mauk, Kenton (Kenton, Ohio)
This week: It was another huge night at the office Friday night for Mauk, who hit 26-of-38 passes for 387 yards and five scores while also rushing eight times for 101 yards and two touchdowns in a 54-15 win over Defiance (Defiance, Ohio).
Season Totals: 246-of-361 for 3,403 yards and 43 touchdowns with eight interceptions, 132 carries for 1,037 yards and 14 touchdowns; team is 9-0
Stock – Slightly Up: Mauk needs three completions and 295 yards this week versus 9-0 Wapakoneta (Wapakoneta, Ohio) to break his older brother Ben's national records of 1,905 career completions and 17,364 career passing yards.
Disagree with this list or have suggestions/comments of who should be added for consideration? Email Brian Stumpf at firstname.lastname@example.org, hit him up on Twitter - @BrianStumpfESPN or post in the comments section below.