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 in the updated ESPNU 150, Gray carried 31 times for 265 yards and seven touchdowns in Aledo's ESPNU-televised 67-42 shootout win over Birdville (North Richland Hills, Texas).
Season totals: 181 carries for 2,241 yards and 44 touchdowns rushing, 16 catches for 346 yards and four scores receiving; Aledo is 7-2
Stock – Up: Gray’s big night on TV made him the second all-time leading scorer in the history of high school football, passing former N.C. State RB T.A. McLendon. He is now 21 touchdowns and 146 points behind the all-time high school leaders in those two categories, former Michigan RB Mike Hart, who prepped at Onondaga (Nedrow, N.Y.). A deep playoff run including more performances like this past week puts those numbers within striking distance, considering Gray has already scored 48 times through nine games this fall.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
This week: The nation’s No. 1 ranked WR by ESPNU had his ninth 100-yard game of the year Friday, catching 11 passes for a whopping 303 yards and four touchdowns in Hillcrest's 35-7 win over Republic (Republic, Mo.).
Season Totals: 98 catches for 1,985 yards and 21 touchdowns, one rushing touchdown; team is 9-1
Stock – Up: Green-Beckham is now the all-time leading receiver in high school football history at 6,110 yards and counting, breaking the previous record held by former Evangel Christian (Shreveport, La.) WR Abram Booty.
QB Alec Morris, Allen (Allen, Texas)
This week: Morris was flummoxed most of the night Friday by the Hebron (Carrollton, Texas) secondary, completing 16-of-28 passes for 216 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. The Alabama commit did rush for a score and helped drive his team down the field for two fourth quarter scores to secure a come-from-behind, 28-21 victory.
Season totals: 157-of-254 for 2,437 yards and 29 touchdowns with five interceptions, 255 yards and six touchdowns rushing; team is 9-0 and No. 3 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Down: Morris did bounce back to get his team in the end zone twice in the fourth quarter, but this was by far his worst outing of the year. Strangely he has become less efficient since Missouri-bound RB Jonathan Williams returned to the Eagles attack a few weeks back.
RB T.J. Yeldon, Daphne (Daphne, Ala.)
This week: Yeldon, the nation’s No. 7 rated back by ESPNU and an Auburn commit, ran for 143 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries and also had a touchdown pass as Daphne closed its regular season with a 41-7 win over Baker (Mobile, Ala.).
Season totals: 177 carries for 1,916 yards and 26 touchdowns rushing, 11 receptions for 157 yards and two scores, one touchdown pass; team is 9-1
Stock – Same: Yeldon's big regular season has setup the chance for some huge numbers, especially if Daphne runs the table all the way for a second-straight Class 6A state title.
ON THE RADAR
DE Mario Edwards Jr., Denton Ryan (Denton, Texas)
This week: Edwards, the top-ranked recruit nationwide by ESPNU, had one sack as Denton Ryan crushed Wichita Falls (Wichita Falls, Texas) 49-13 on Friday night.
Season totals: 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles; team is 9-0 and No. 37 in the POWERADE FAB 50
Stock – Same: Ryan's last few games have been walkovers in which Edwards hasn't seen much time in the second half. Still he's averaging nearly a sack and a half per game.
QB Gunner Kiel, Columbus East (Columbus, Ind.)
This week: Kiel returned to action in the second round of the playoffs to complete 11-of-21 for 253 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-17 win over East Central (St. Leon, Ind.).
Season Totals: 100-of-185 passing for 1,971 yards and 23 touchdowns with three interceptions, with 359 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns in 10 games; team is 10-1.
Stock – Same: Kiel and his teammates will now face Franklin County (Brookville, Ind.) in the Class 4A, Sectional 15 final this Friday.
RB Rushel Shell, Hopewell (Aliquippa, Pa.)
This week: The recent Pitt commit helped his team secure a playoff berth Friday night, rushing 35 times for 216 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-14 win over West Allegheny (Imperial, Pa.).
Season totals: 241 carries for 1,758 yards and 20 touchdowns, one receiving touchdown; team is 6-3, missed one game with a concussion.
Stock – Slightly Up: Shell carried his team on his back once again Friday night, it's going to take more nights like these for Hopewell to advance deep into the playoffs.
RB Trey Williams, Dekaney (Spring, Texas)
This week: Williams was the brightest star on the field in a matchup versus fellow Texas A&M commit Matt Davis of Klein Forest (Houston), rushing 32 times for 354 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-35 win.
Season totals: 217 carries for 2,116 yards and 25 touchdowns with two receiving touchdowns; team is 8-1.
Stock – Up: Williams has topped 100 yards every game and has come on strong lately. Dekaney will play in the playoffs this year for the first time in school history.
QB Jameis Winston, Hueytown (Hueytown, Ala.)
This week: Winston capped the regular season with a 11-of-17 for 173 yard and one touchdown passing effort in a 34-0 white-washing of Benjamin Russell (Alexander City, Ala.). Winston also chipped in 95 yards and a touchdown rushing.
Season Totals: 132-of-194 for 1,915 yards and 23 touchdowns with four interceptions, 871 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing, one touchdown reception; team is 11-0.
Stock – Same: Winston has now accounted for an impressive 39 scores on the year and has Hueytown ranked atop Class 5A in Alabama heading into the post-season.
SMALL SCHOOL STAT KINGS
QB Neal Burcham, Greenbrier (Greenbrier, Ark.)
This week: Burcham had another big statistical night Friday but was doomed by five turnovers (four interceptions and a fumble) as Greenbrier lost its first game of the year, 59-35 to Greenwood (Greenwood, Ark.). Burcham completed 42-of-61 passes for 456 yards and five touchdowns.
Season Totals: 216-of-303 for 3,272 yards and 38 touchdowns with three interceptions and three rushing touchdowns; team is 8-1
Stock – Slightly Down: The numbers were great but the turnovers were uncharacteristic; still Burcham will have the playoffs to atone for the loss.
QB Maty Mauk, Kenton (Kenton, Ohio)
This week: Mauk showed up big-time in a matchup against 9-0 Wapakoneta (Wapakoneta, Ohio), completing 28-of-40 for 341 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing for 167 yards and two touchdowns in the 52-32 win.
Season Totals: 274-of-401 for 3,744 yards and 48 touchdowns with eight interceptions, 153 carries for 1,204 yards and 16 touchdowns; team is 10-0
Stock – Slightly Up: Mauk needs 102 yards this coming week to break his older brother Ben's national record of 17,364 career passing yards.
NEW TO THE TRACKER
RB Mike Davis, Stephenson (Stone Mountain, Ga.)
This week: Davis ran 24 times for 246 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-13 win over Newnan (Newnan, Ga.) to help Stephenson remain undefeated.
Season totals: 158 carries for 1,574 yards and 19 touchdowns; team is 9-0 and ranked No. 24 in the POWERADE FAB 50
Stock – Slightly Up: Davis has been putting up big numbers all year long despite lopsided victories for Stephenson. He has the opportunity to really shoot up the charts with a big outing this Friday versus FAB 50 No. 49 Martin Luther King (Lithonia, Ga.).
MOVING OFF THE TRACKER
ATH Stefon Diggs, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
Comments: A big-time talent, Diggs is a victim in the individual honors category this fall of a team blessed with other good players that has spread it around very well this fall. The loss of starting QB Brendan Marshall is hurting Diggs' receiving numbers, but not the Good Counsel team, as the Falcons crushed Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.) 54-19 on Saturday. Diggs caught just one pass for eight yards in the win, but did rush for 48 yards and a score and contribute an interception on defense.
RB D.J. Foster, Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Comments: Foster was robbed of his chance to perform on the biggest stage in Arizona Friday night, as Saguaro coach John Sanders opted to rest his starters rather than compete versus FAB 50-ranked Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Saguaro was crushed 65-0. Foster surely will go on to post big numbers in the playoffs, but it would be tough to crown any player Mr. Football or even State Player of the Year in his own state who did not have a chance to compete against the best team on his schedule and did his damage against lesser opponents.
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.