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. Centerville High (Centerville, Ohio) defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo
ESPNU 150 rank: No. 51
Weight: 212 pounds
Testing results: 4.62 40-yard dash; 33.5 vertical jump
Traits: Run defense, pass rushing, disruptiveness, pursuit
ESPNU scouting report: "Odenigbo is a fun kid to watch and it seems a real handful to face. He is a high school defensive end and while a move to outside linebacker could very likely be in his future he could be a heck of an end if he can add more bulk. He is a kid with good height, but is lean and needs more size. He seems to be a muscular and wiry kid, but you would still like to see him try and add more weight. While he can seem a little lean for the end position, don't write him off. This is a physical kid who displays good raw strength and plays bigger."
2. Taft High (Cincinnati, Ohio) defensive end Adolphus Washington
ESPNU 150 rank: No. 95
Weight: 251 pounds
Testing results: 4.90 40-yard dash; 23.9 vertical jump
Traits: Disruptiveness, pursuit
ESPNU scouting report: "Washington is a kid with upside physically and as a player. He carries good bulk on his long frame, but still comes across as lean and should be able to pack on more good size with time in a college weight program. He is a kid who can quickly get off the ball. He flashes the ability to play with some bend and use his hands to take on and defeat blockers, but he needs to do both more consistently. He displays a good burst off the ball, but can tend to as quickly pop up and play tall and needs to work to keep his pads down."
3. McKinley High (Canton, Ohio) defensive end Se'Von Pittman
ESPNU 150 rank: No. 100
Weight: 230 pounds
College: Michigan State (verbal)
Traits: Run defense, disruptiveness, strength, pursuit
ESPNU scouting report: "McKinley High School produced a very good defensive end prospect last year and now they follow up with another promising player at the position. Along with Steve Miller, Pittman formed a good looking and talented bookend duo for the Ohio high school. Pittman is a physically good looking prospect. He does not have eye-popping size on paper, but he catches the eye. He has a good reach for his build and should be able to pack on a fair amount more of good bulk as he continues to physically develop."
4. St. Edward High (Lakewood, Ohio) offensive tackle Kyle Kalis
ESPNU 150 rank: No. 137
Weight: 305 pounds
College: Michigan (verbal)
Traits: Run blocking, strength, toughness
ESPNU scouting report: "Kalis is a tough run blocker capable of controlling defenders with his upper body playing strength. Has the size with enough athleticism for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition. If edge speed becomes a factor this prospect could end up inside at the offensive guard spot. Although we detect some lower body stiffness this athlete has the balance and agility to sustain blocks and play on his feet in space."
5. Taft High (Cincinnati, Ohio) wide receiver Dwayne Stanford II
ESPNU 150 rank: No. 21 WR
Weight: 187 pounds
Testing results: 4.81 40-yard dash; 32.4 vertical jump
Traits: Hands, catch in traffic
ESPNU scouting report: "Stanford is a big receiver with long arms and the very good body control and focus on the deep ball as well as the jump ball. He is truly at his best in the red zone matched-up one-on-one where he can use his frame, long arms and leaping ability to make plays on the ball. He shows a sturdy build and the ability to be physical in contested match-ups. Shows average surge off the ball and builds momentum as he climbs and is at his best working the short-to-intermediate areas of the field."
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.