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 and examine some of the new names who are emerging as strong contenders.
RB Johnathan Gray, Aledo (Texas)
Last week: The nation's top-rated running back and 2010 ESPNHS Mr. Football USA carried 18 times for 195 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown run on his first carry, as Aledo avenged an earlier 48-47 loss to Stephenville (Texas) by whipping the Yellow Jackets 33-0. Gray was ejected in the third quarter, however, as he uncharacteristically drew two unsportsmanlike penalties.
Season totals: 295 carries for 3,435 yards and 59 rushing touchdowns, 22 catches for 458 yards and five receiving touchdowns; Aledo is 12-2.
Stock – Same: Gray is now five touchdowns and 50 points behind the all-time high school leader in these two categories, former Michigan RB Mike Hart, who prepped at Onondaga (Nedrow, N.Y.). It was surprising that Gray drew the unsportsmanlike penalties last week, but probably speaks more to how keyed-up Aledo was to get another shot at a Stephenville team that had stunned them earlier in the year.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
Season Totals: 119 catches for 2,233 yards and 24 touchdowns, one rushing touchdown; team finished 11-2.
QB Maty Mauk, Kenton (Ohio)
Last week: Mauk is the national all-time high school leader in passing yards and touchdowns, but his career came to a bitter end Saturday as Mauk was once again denied an ever-elusive state title. Norwayne (Creston, Ohio) topped Kenton 48-42. Mauk went down with guns blazing, completing 27-of-50 passes for 421 yards, with five touchdowns and three interceptions, while also rushing 22 times for 50 yards and a score.
Season Totals: 382-of-556 for 5,413 yards and 68 touchdowns with 16 interceptions, 241 carries for 1,768 yards and 23 touchdowns; team finished 14-1.
Stock – Slightly Down: Mauk passed for more yards and touchdowns than any quarterback in high school history, but his chances for this award hinged more on those big numbers accounting for a championship, and unfortunately Kenton came up one game short.
ON THE RADAR
ATH Davonte Neal, Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Season Totals: 100 carries for 1,317 yards and 16 touchdowns, 62 receptions for 1,113 yards and 14 touchdowns, three kickoff returns for touchdowns and two punt return scores, recorded 31 tackles on defense; team finished 14-1 and is No. 22 in the FAB 50.
QB Patrick Towles, Highlands (Fort Thomas, Ky.)
Last week: Towles, an Elite 11 finals selection and ESPNU's top-ranked prospect in Kentucky, completed 12-of-18 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown while rushing 19 times for 122 yards and another score as Highlands routed Franklin-Simpson (Franklin, Ky.) 42-14 to win the Class 4A state title.
Season Totals: 181-of-279 for 3,820 yards, 42 touchdowns and one interception, with 589 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns; team finished 15-0 and No. 34 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Slightly Up: Towles, who won the Gatorade State Player of the Year in Kentucky last week as well as the state title, won two state championships in his two years as the starter for the Bluebirds.
RB Trey Williams, Dekaney (Houston)
Last week: Williams ran 36 times for 223 yards and scored on runs of 19, 21 and 55 yards to lead Dekaney past Westfield (Spring, Texas) 28-18 in a Class 5A, Division II state quarterfinal.
Season totals: 371 carries for 3,406 yards and 39 touchdowns with two receiving touchdowns and a kickoff return score; team is 12-2.
Stock – Slightly Up: Williams continues to carry Dekaney to heights previously unreached by a school that had never won a playoff game prior to this year. A state semi matchup with Timberview (Arlington, Texas) is up next on Saturday.
QB Jameis Winston, Hueytown (Ala.)
Season Totals: 163-of-234 for 2,424 yards and 28 touchdowns with two interceptions, 1,063 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns, one touchdown reception; team finished 13-1.
MOVING OFF THE TRACKER
RB Kelvin Taylor, Glades Day (Belle Glade, Fla.)
Last week: Taylor, a junior and son of former NFL RB Fred Taylor, saw his season and Glades Day's quest for a three-peat come to an end Friday as the Gators fell to Admiral Farragut (St. Petersburg, Fla.) in a Class 2A semifinal. Taylor ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns and finished the regular season with 3,152 yards and 42 touchdowns. He'll begin his senior season with 9,698 career yards and 150 touchdowns.
Disagree with this list or have suggestions/comments about who should be added for consideration? Email Brian Stumpf at email@example.com, hit him up on Twitter - @BrianStumpfESPN or post in the comments section below.