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. Northern Valley Regional High (Old Tappen, N.J.) athlete Devin Fuller
ESPNU 150 rank: 40
Weight: 190 pounds
Testing results: 4.77 40-yard dash; 25.0 vertical jump
Traits: playmaker, speed
ESPNU scouting report: "Fuller is a dual-threat QB more than capable of remaining under center at the next level if in the right scheme. He is not quite as fluid as Will Hill, who was from the same state a few years back, but he is close and is a better passer. If he does not play QB, he will likely end up at safety."
2. Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) cornerback Yuri Wright
ESPNU 150 rank: 41
Weight: 185 pounds
Traits: man coverage, zone coverage, run support, instincts
ESPNU scouting report: "Wright has some of the better skill-set at the corner position in 2012. His height, hips and polished footwork are rare at the position for a 6-foot-2 corner. Tall with great height and length with more than adequate strength. Flashes excellent burst as well as top-end speed."
3. Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) defensive end Darius Hamilton
ESPNU 150 rank: 66
Weight: 245 pounds
Traits: run defense, disruptiveness, strength
ESPNU scouting report: "Hamilton seems to fit the mold of the defensive linemen that have been coming out of Don Bosco the last few seasons, though he is arguably the best defensive line prospect to come out of the school since 2007. He plays inside for his high school and with his current size it is not unreasonable to think that he will grow into a defensive tackle and play inside in college as well."
4. Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, N.J.) quarterback Sean Maguire
ESPNU position rank: No. 12 QB
Weight: 195 pounds
College: Florida State University (verbal)
Traits: accuracy, arm strength, athleticism
ESPNU scouting report: "Maguire is a very intriguing pocket passer that has a real chance at the next level once he gets into a multiple, pro-style scheme where he can flourish in the passing game. He is tall and lanky, but has a nice frame to add significant bulk and develop into a powerful passer."
5. Saint Joseph High (Hammonton, N.J.) inside linebacker Kaiwan Lewis
ESPNU position rank: No. 8 ILB
Weight: 230 pounds
College: University of South Carolina (verbal)
Traits: diagnosing skills, inside run support, outside run support, tackling
ESPNU scouting report: "Lewis is a great defensive player who displays the playing strength and quickness necessary to dominate blockers from either a two- or three-point stance. Has the size and athleticism for the ILB position at the major level of competition while offering game plan flexibility through alignment."
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.