POY Potential: Top 5 S.C. 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. Lexington High (Lexington, SC) athlete Shaq Roland

  • ESPNU 150 rank: No. 46

  • Height: 6-foot-1

  • Weight: 180 pounds

  • College: South Carolina (verbal)

  • Traits: Versatility, playmaker, ball skills

  • ESPNU scouting report: "There are not many athletes as tall, fast and smooth as Roland in 2012. This guy could be productive in all three phases of the game at the next level and get recruited at a few different positions. We feel he will either settle in at receiver or safety. Defensive back may be an easier transition but his upside is at receiver. Needs to continue filling out but has good height for a projected skill player and very good movement skills."

2. Dorman High (Roebuck, SC) offensive tackle Patrick Destefano

  • ESPNU 150 rank: No. 60

  • Height: 6-foot-5

  • Weight: 275 pounds

  • College: Clemson (verbal)

  • Traits: Run blocking, pass blocking, space blocking, toughness

  • ESPNU scouting report: "Destefano is a very good run and pass blocker showing the ability to dominate at his present level of play. Has the size along with excellent athleticism for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition. His frame appears capable of handling the additional body mass we feel must be added over time. Is effective as fullback in the power "I" leading up or kicking out defenders."

3. D.W. Daniel High (Central, SC) defensive end Shaquille Lawson

  • ESPNU 150 rank: No. 17 DE

  • Height: 6-foot-3

  • Weight: 245 pounds

  • College: Clemson (verbal)

  • Traits: Run defense, pass rushing, pursuit

  • ESPNU scouting report: "Lawson is a defensive end with good size and the tools to be a tough defender against the run and pass. He has good height and carries good bulk and looks to have a frame that could support more good size with time in a college weight program. There are some things to really like about this kid, but maybe the most frustrating thing with him is his get-off. He will show flashes of a quick initial burst, but he can be a beat late and you would like to see him work to consistently explode out of his stance with the movement of the ball."

4. Dillon High (Dillon, SC) wide receiver Kwinton Smith

  • ESPNU 150 rank: No. 29 WR

  • Height: 6-foot-3

  • Weight: 192 pounds

  • College: South Carolina (verbal)

  • Testing results: 4.63 40-yard dash; 25.0 vertical jump

  • Traits: Hands, route running, catch in traffic, ability after catch

  • ESPNU scouting report: "This guy is a really good football player with a blend of size, strength and speed that you do not see often. He reminds us of another 2012 WR Justin Ferguson out of Florida. Smith is deceptively fast and elusive and shows some savvy as a route runner."

5. T.L. Hanna High (Anderson, SC) tight end Justin Meredith

  • ESPNU 150 rank: No. 6 TE

  • Height: 6-foot-5

  • Weight: 220 pounds

  • College: North Carolina (verbal)

  • Testing results: 4.58 40-yard dash; 35.0 vertical jump

  • ESPNU scouting report: "Meredith will move around the offense in high school. He is a kid with good height, but will need add more bulk and fill out his frame. He is listed as a tight end, but like in high school he could benefit playing in more of an H-Back role. He can be a solid target in the passing game. He does not come across as a natural receiver who effortlessly plucks the ball, but he does have good hands and can extend and catch the ball away from his body."

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.