Eye on POY: Minnesota 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.

Philip Nelson

Senior quarterback, Mankato West (Mankato, Minn.)

2011 Team record: 11-0

2011 Team standing: Will play in Class 4A quarterfinals vs. Bemidji on Friday

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 135-196 (68.8)- 2,252

2011 TDs-INTs: 33-2

2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 118-1,060 (8.9)- 19

Academics: A-minus average

Collegiate destination: Minnesota (verbal commitment)

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: 2009-2011 First Team All-Conference selection; 2010 Conference Player of the Year; 2010 Second Team All-State

Trey Heid

Senior quarterback/kicker, Lakeville North (Lakeville, Minn.)

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 136-219 (62.2)- 2,085

2011 TDs-INTs: 20-5

2011 Team record: 10-1

2011 Team standing: Lost in Class 5A quarterfinals to Cretin-Derham

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination: Undecided

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: 2011 Minneapolis Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year; 2011 Minneapolis Star Tribune First Team All-Metro offense

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.

Andrew Larson: Eden Prairie (Minn.) senior RB

Sam Sura: South St. Paul (St. Paul, Minn.) senior RB

Andre McDonald: Hopkins (Minn.) senior RB

Nick Davidson: Eden Prairie (Minn.) senior OL

Issac Hayes: St. Thomas Academy (Mendota Heights, Minn.) senior OL

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.