Eye on POY: Tennessee 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.

I'Tavius Mathers

Senior Running back, Blackman High (Murfreesboro, TN)

2011 Team record: 8-4

2011 Team standing: Lost to Riverdale in second round of 6A tournament, 38-14

2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 246-2,258 (9.2)-27

Academics: B average

Collegiate destination: Mississippi (verbal)

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Returning Gatorade Tennessee Football Player of the Year; Second straight season over 2,000 yards; Tennessee Mr. Football finalist.

Patton Robinette

Senior Quarterback, Maryville High (Maryville, TN)

2011 Team record: 12-0

2011 Team standing: Plays Sevier County in Class 6A quarterfinals, Nov. 18

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 94-128 (73.4)-1,311

2011 TDs-INTs: 17-6

2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 62-620 (10.0)-11

Academics: 4.55 GPA; 36 on ACT

Collegiate destination: North Carolina (verbal)

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Led team to 2010 state title; 26 consecutive victories as a starter; Tennessee Mr. Football finalist; ESPNHS Elite 11 Quarterback Camp participant.

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.

Mark Dodson: Whitehaven High (Memphis, TN) JR RB

Brian Kimbrow: East High (Memphis, TN) SR RB

Chad Voytik: Cleveland High (Cleveland, TN) SR QB

Corn Elder: Ensworth School (Nashville, TN) JR RB

Jay Guillermo: Maryville High (Maryville, TN) SR OL

C.J. Beathard: Battle Ground Academy (Franklin, TN) SR QB

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.