POY Potential: Top 5 Okla. football recruits

The Gatorade Player of the Year Program honors athletes who meet comprehensive and exacting criteria in high school sports. Candidates are judged on athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders also must demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of ESPNU's recruit rankings.

That being said, the state’s top five football recruits as ranked by ESPNU are sure to enter the 2011-12 Gatorade Football Player of the Year conversation at some point. Here they are …

1. Jenks High (Okla.) running back Alex Ross

  • ESPNU 150 rank: 39

  • Height: 6-foot-1

  • Weight: 205 pounds

  • College: University of Oklahoma (verbal)

  • Traits: speed, power, elusiveness, vision

  • ESPNU scouting report: "One of the more explosive and college ready backs in this class, Ross wears No. 28 and immediately reminds you of young Adrian Peterson on film with his running style. Has a large, well-built frame and should continue to add bulk and fill out to the 225-pound range in college."

2. Heritage Hall High (Oklahoma City, Okla.) wide receiver Sterling Shepard

  • ESPNU 150 rank: 57

  • Height: 5-foot-10

  • Weight: 185 pounds

  • College: University of Oklahoma (verbal)

  • Traits: hands, catch in traffic, yards after catch

  • ESPNU scouting report: "At first glance you watch Shepard and don't get a great feel for his speed or quickness, but the more you watch him he really begins to grow on you and you realize that he may not have explosive quickness all the time, but flashes it and has deceptive top end speed and elusiveness in the open field."

3. Heritage Hall High (Oklahoma City, Okla.) running back Barry Sanders Jr.

  • ESPNU 150 rank: 77

  • Height: 5-foot-10

  • Weight: 190 pounds

  • College: Undecided

  • Traits: speed, elusiveness, vision

  • ESPNU scouting report: "Hard to follow in the footsteps of one of the all-time best, but Barry Sanders Jr. is certainly paving his own way on the gridiron. Lacks ideal height but is well-built, low to ground aiding his excellent balance, body control an vision through traffic."

4. Owasso High (Okla.) wide receiver Keon Hatcher

  • ESPNU position rank: No. 24 WR

  • Height: 6-foot-1

  • Weight: 179 pounds

  • College: University of Arkansas (verbal)

  • Testing results: 4.93 40-yard dash; 33.5 vertical jump

  • Traits: hands, route-running, catch in traffic

  • ESPNU scouting report: "Hatcher is a great looking player physically with ideal height, early stage bulk and the frame to develop into an imposing figure over time. he is a guy that can play on the inside or outside and has the size and physicality to create mismatches on the deep ball and in a crowd over the middle."

5. Norman High (Okla.) running back Donovan Roberts

  • ESPNU position rank: No. 24 RB

  • Height: 5-foot-11

  • Weight: 195 pounds

  • College: University of Arkansas (verbal)

  • Traits: power, vision

  • ESPNU scouting report: "An early sleeper in the 2012 running back class, Roberts is a well-rounded rounded back with quality tools at the position. Runs like a college back. Has a taller, sturdier frame with good strength and bulk."

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.