Eye on POY: Florida football

The window on the Gatorade State Football Player of the Year race is closing, and time is running out for student-athletes to state their POY case. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program's selection process.

Nick Patti

Senior quarterback, Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.)

2011 Team record: 9-1

2011 Team standing: Class 8A regional quarterfinal vs. Wharton on Nov. 18

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 133-244 (54.5)-1,966

2011 TDs-INTs: 22-7

2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 75-615 (8.2)-6

Academics: B average

Collegiate destination: Boise State University (verbal)

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Owns a 146.21 NCAA Pass Efficiency Rating. Leads an offense that scores 35.3 points per game. Averages 8.1 yards per touch. 2011 Elite 11 quarterback camp invitee. 2011 First Team All-State preseason selection as named by ESPNHS. 2010 Class 6A Honorable Mention All-State selection.

William Likely III

Junior athlete, Glades Central (Belle Grade, Fla.)

2011 Team record: 9-0

2011 Team standing: Class 5A regional quarterfinal vs. Astronaut on Nov. 18

2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 47-472 (10.0)-6

2011 Catches-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 28-510 (18.2)-6

2011 KO Returns-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 3-161 (53.7)-1

2011 Punt Returns-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 7-137 (19.6)-1

2011 Tackles: 26

2011 Interceptions: 3

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination: Undecided

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and hauled in a diving 45-yard TD catch in an ESPN nationally-televised 24-10 victory against Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.), capturing the top spot on SportsCenter's Top 10 list. Averages 15.1 yards per touch for an offense that scored 41.9 points per game. Anchors a defense that allows just 8.2 points and 42.7 passing yards per contest. 2011 Miami Nike Football Training Camp Defensive Back Most Valuable Player. 2010 Gainesville Nike Football Training Camp DB MVP. 2010 Class 2A First Team All-State selection.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Football Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011 campaign.

Travis Blanks: North Florida Christian (Tallahassee, Fla.) senior safety

Noor Davis: Leesburg (Fla.) senior linebacker

Derrick Henry: Yulee (Fla.) junior running back

Eddie Williams: Arnold (Panama City Beach, Fla.) senior athlete

Tracy Howard: Miramar (Fla.) senior cornerback

Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com or Twitter @ESPNHS_GPOY.