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. Simeon High (Chicago, Ill.) offensive tackle Jordan Diamond
ESPNU 150 rank: 102
Weight: 291 pounds
Testing results: 5.89 40-yard dash; 21.1 vertical jump
Traits: run blocking, pass blocking, strength, physicality
ESPNU scouting report: "Diamond displays a great deal of playing strength as a dominant run blocker. Has the ability to overpower defenders both on and off the line of scrimmage. Possesses the size and athleticism for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition; his frame appears capable of handling additional body mass over time."
2. Glenbard West High (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) defensive tackle Tommy Schutt
ESPNU 150 rank: 132
Weight: 305 pounds
College: Penn State University (verbal)
Traits: run defense, strength
ESPNU scouting report: "Don't know if Schutt has anything to do with the making of helmets, but we do know he is a kid that will battle and make opposing offensive linemen work. He moves around the defensive line in high school, but he is an interior player in college. Overall he has good size."
3. Barrington High (Hoffman Estates, Ill.) offensive tackle Dan Voltz
ESPNU position rank: No. 24 OT
Weight: 290 pounds
College: University of Wisconsin (verbal)
Traits: run blocking, strength, physicality
ESPNU scouting report: "Quote."
4. Providence Catholic High (New Lenox, Ill.) offensive tackle Ryan Ward
ESPNU position rank: No. 34 OT
Weight: 270 pounds
College: University of Iowa (verbal)
Traits: run blocking, space blocking, strength, physicality
ESPNU scouting report: "Ward is a tough run blocker showing the ability to dominate and knock defenders off the ball. Has the size for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition and it appears his frame is capable of handling additional body mass."
5. Lake Forest Academy (Lake Forest, Ill.) defensive end Faith Ekakitie
ESPNU position rank: No. 26 DE
Weight: 265 pounds
Traits: run defense, disruptiveness, strength, pursuit
ESPNU scouting report: "Ekakitie is a defensive line prospect, but exactly where along the defensive line he will play is still a bit of a question at this point. He is a kid with good size. He carries a good amount of bulk on his frame and looks to carry it well."
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.