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 nation's top-rated running back and 2010 ESPNHS Mr. Football USA carried 20 times for 303 yards and three touchdowns as Aledo routed Canyon Randall (Amarillo, Texas) 42-14 in a Class 4A playoff game.
Season totals: 278 carries for 3,252 yards and 59 touchdowns rushing, 22 catches for 472 yards and four scores receiving; Aledo is 11-2.
Stock – Up: Gray is now six touchdowns and 56 points behind the all-time high school leader in these two categories, former Michigan RB Mike Hart, who prepped at Onondaga (Nedrow, N.Y.). Gray and Aledo get a chance to avenge one of their two regular season losses this week versus Stephenville (Stephenville, Texas) in a 4A quarterfinal on Saturday.
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 (Kenton, Ohio)
This week: The national all-time high school leader in passing yards and touchdowns completed 26-of-39 passes for 408 yards with four touchdowns and an interception while also rushing for 54 yards and a score in a 36-6 win over Clinton-Massie (Clarksville, Ohio).
Season Totals: 355 of 506 for 4,992 yards and 63 touchdowns with 13 interceptions, 219 carries for 1,718 yards and 23 touchdowns; team is 14-0
Stock – Slightly Up: Mauk and Kenton now face Norwayne (Creston, Ohio) in the Division IV state title game this Saturday and the Missouri commit has the chance to turn all of his statistical achievement into a championship, which would be a tremendous finish to his brilliant career.
ON THE RADAR
RB Kelvin Taylor, Glades Day (Belle Glade, Fla.)
This week: Taylor, a junior and son of former NFL RB Fred Taylor, scored from two yards out with 1:17 remaining to lift Glades Day past Jupiter Christian (Jupiter, Fla.) in a 2A second-round matchup. He finished the night with 345 yards and four touchdowns on 34 carries.
Season Totals: 292 carries for 2,884 yards and 40 touchdowns, 66 yards and one receiving touchdown; team is 9-3.
Stock – Slightly Up: Taylor will be a strong candidate for ESPNHS Junior of the Year honors, especially if he carries Glades Day to a state title, which is now just two victories away. Glades Day takes on Admiral Farragut (St. Petersburg, Fla.) in a 2A semifinal this Friday.
RB Trey Williams, Dekaney (Spring, Texas)
This week: Williams scored on a 58-yard TD run in the first quarter and returned the second half kickoff 99 yards for a score to lead Dekaney to the biggest win in school history, shocking previously FAB 50 ranked Longview (Longview, Texas) 17-6. Williams finished with 155 yards on 28 carries.
Season totals: 335 carries for 3,183 yards and 36 touchdowns with two receiving touchdowns and a kickoff return score; team is 11-2.
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 rematch with district rival Westfield (Spring, Texas) is up next in a 5A Division II state quarterfinal. Westfield topped Dekaney 38-31 in the regular season finale on Nov. 4.
QB Jameis Winston, Hueytown (Hueytown, Ala.)
This week: Winston's high school career came to a disappointing end Thursday, as he was held to 157 yards passing and 12 yards rushing by a tough Vigor (Prichard, Ala.) defense in a 20-7 loss in a Class 5A state semifinal.
Season Totals: 163 of 234 for 2,424 yards and 28 touchdowns with two interceptions, 1,063 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing, one touchdown reception; team finished 13-1.
Stock – Slightly Down: Winston, the nation's top-rated QB in the ESPNU 150, came up a game short of a state title and that could eventually hurt his Mr. Football USA candidacy, as he wasn't in a system to put up prolific stats like others to begin with.
MOVING ONTO THE TRACKER
ATH Davonte Neal, Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
This week: Neal, the 29th-rated recruit in the ESPNU 150, capped off a huge year with an MVP outing in the Arizona Division II state title game, rushing nine times for 220 yards and two touchdowns while also catching nine passes for 107 yards and another touchdown in a 37-14 victory over Cienega (Vail, 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, also recorded 31 tackles on defense; team finished 14-1 and is No. 22 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Up: Neal began the year in the tracker and after falling out after a slow start, he comes back full circle after totaling over 330 all-purpose yards and three scores in a state final win. On the year he accounted for 35 total touchdowns and topped 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving -- a rare feat on any level of football.
QB Patrick Towles, Highlands (Fort Thomas, Ky.)
This week: Towles, an Elite 11 finals selection and ESPNU's top-ranked prospect in Kentucky, completed 7-of-11 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown while rushing 17 times for 121 yards and two more scores as Highlands advanced to the Class 4A state title game with a 42-21 win over Lexington Catholic (Lexington, Ky.).
Season Totals: 169 of 261 for 3,637 yards, 41 touchdowns and one interception, with 467 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns; team is 14-0 and No. 42 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Slightly Up: Towles has captained a Highlands offense that broke the Kentucky single-season scoring record this weekend and has now scored 807 points this fall. The Bluebirds will seek their fifth straight state crown -- the last four in Class 5A -- in the 4A finals vs. Franklin-Simpson (Franklin, Ky.) on Saturday at Houchens/L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green.
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.