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. Corvallis High (Corvallis, OR) offensive guard Isaac Seumalo
ESPNU 150 rank: No. 64
Weight: 280 pounds
College: Oregon State (verbal)
Traits: Run blocking, pass blocking, space blocking, toughness
ESPNU scouting report: "Seumalo is a coaches son and mixes a high effort and physical style of play with a good feel for the game. He plays on both sides of the ball in high school and could receive interest as a defensive tackle, but we feel his best fit and likely best upside is on offense. He plays tackle in high school, but at the next level will slide inside to guard. He has solid size. He will need to work to try and add some more good bulk to his frame, but does come across as a kid with a thick and sturdy build. He is a physical and tenacious run blocker."
2. Liberty High (Hillboro, OR) outside linebacker Brett Bafaro
ESPNU 150 rank: No. 43 OLB
Weight: 215 pounds
Testing results: 4.66 40-yard dash; 33.2 vertical jump
Traits: Inside run support, tackling, coverage skills
ESPNU scouting report: "Bafaro is a very good athlete with the physical playing strength to dominate on both sides of the ball; plays running back and linebacker with excellent results. That being said we feel his height and athleticism are best suited for the outside linebacker position at the major level of competition; His frame appears capable of handling the additional body mass needed at the next level of play. His strong wrap tackling ability should prove productive as a special teams coverage defender."
3. Central Catholic High (Portland, OR) defensive end Alex Balducci
ESPNU 150 rank: No. 45 DE
Weight: 255 pounds
College: Oregon (verbal)
Traits: Run blocking, strength
ESPNU scouting report: "Balducci plays end in his high school's 3-4 defense and it seems that could be a good fit for him at the college level. If he lands in a defense that utilizes a four-man front it is possible that ends up sliding down inside to tackle. He is a kid with good size and looks to have a frame that can support more good bulk."
4. Newport High (Newport, OR) athlete Oshay Dunmore
ESPNU 150 rank: No. 72 ATH
Weight: 195 pounds
College: Oregon (verbal)
Traits: Playmaking, speed
ESPNU scouting report: "Dunmore is essentially a wide receiver/safety in the making that is employed at this level as a Wildcat QB for the strict purpose of him having the ball in his hands on every play. He is a very talented overall athlete with nice size, some bulk to his frame and excellent play speed. Against this level of competition he sticks out like a sore thumb especially when he gets into space. He is a gifted zone-read operator with natural vision and run instincts."
5. Eagle Point High (Eagle Point, OR) defensive tackle Tyrone Holmes
ESPNU 150 rank: No. 52 DE
Weight: 250 pounds
Traits: Run defense, pursuit
ESPNU scouting report: "Holmes is a good sized kid who can run well. He could fit well as an end in a 3-4 defense, but if he lands in a scheme that utilizes a four-man front he will grow into and fit better as a defensive tackle. He possesses good size and looks to have room to add some more good mass with time in a college weight program. He shows flashes of a good initial burst off the ball, but he needs to strive for more consistency here."
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.