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. Service High (Anchorage, AK) long snapper Jeff Overbaugh
ESPNU 150 rank: No. 7 LS
Weight: 225 pounds
ESPNU scouting report: "Jeff is very motivated to become the best he can be and is very focused when it comes to his snapping craft. He has made great improvements over the last year and deserves to be one of the top snappers in the nation. At 240 pounds and 6'2" tall, Jeff has good straight away speed with the ability to cover and protect."
2. West Valley High (Fairbanks, AK) offensive guard Ray Garris-Shoemaker
ESPNU 150 rank: State Ranking No. 2
Weight: 248 pounds
Testing results: 5.68 40-yard dash; 21.4 vertical jump
3. Hamilton High (Phoenix, AK) wide receiver Justin Thymes
ESPNU 150 rank: State Ranking No. 3
Weight: 151 pounds
Testing results: 4.60 40-yard dash; 32.5 vertical jump
4. Eagle River High (Eagle River, AK) running back Malcolm Bell
ESPNU 150 rank: State Ranking No. 4
Weight: 164 pounds
Testing results: 4.76 40-yard dash; 32.0 vertical jump
5. Eagle River High (Eagle River, AK) wide receiver Kelechi Madubuko
ESPNU 150 rank: State Ranking No. 5
Weight: 172 pounds
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.