Return of the POY: Miss.'s Anthony Alford

The 2011-12 Gatorade State Football Players of the Year selection process is underway, and what better way to kick off coverage than with profiles of returning underclassmen winners? Repeating is no guarantee, but here's a snapshot of what this year’s challengers can shoot for …

Name: Anthony Alford

Position: Quarterback

Grade: Senior

School: Petal High (Miss.)

College: Undecided

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 210 pounds

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Mississippi Baseball Player of the Year ... No. 98 national recruit in Class of 2012 as ranked by ESPNU ... led Panthers (9-3) to the Class 6A state tournament ... 2010 First Team All-State selection as named by the Clarion-Ledger ... 2010 Class 6A First Team All-State selection as named by the Mississippi Association of Coaches ... 2010 USA Junior Olympic Baseball National Team member




Academics: A-minus average

Extracurricular activities: Big Brothers Big Sisters of America mentor ... youth baseball instructor

Doug Hoehn, head coach of rival Hattiesburg High: "He’s the best all-around athlete we faced this year. He runs the ball really well with good vision. He’s extremely strong, stronger than he looks. He’s physical and elusive, and he’s throwing the football pretty darn good. This year, he could hurt you both ways."

Each Gatorade State Player of the Year is challenged by thousands of fellow high school athletes. These are a few of the returning football underclassmen that also contended in 2010-11 …

Jeremy Liggins SR QB Lafayette County; Austin Shumpert SR DB Itawamba; Michael Hubbard SR RB Meridian; Shelton Cole SR WR Meridian; Issac Gross SR DT South Panola; Temario Strong SR DE South Panola; Von Smith JR QB West Oktibbeha; Nelson Adams SR LB Brandon; Lawrence Brown SR TE New Hope; Carlton Cattlidge SR WR Gentry; Quay Evans SR DT Morton; Twywond Howard SR WR Pearl; Nick James SR DT Long Beach; Channing Ward SR DE Aberdeen

A dedicated POY team at ESPNHS manages the Gatorade Player of the Year program selection process and oversees all research, reporting, comparative analysis and criteria-compliance on the award program’s behalf. Candidates are judged upon athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders must also demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Any class year is eligible, senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of ESPNU's recruit rankings.

To nominate a student-athlete for Player of the Year honors, contact the POY team at poy@risemag.com.