One of the biggest individual honors a high school football player can receive is Mr. Football USA, the title bestowed upon the nation’s most outstanding player each fall by ESPNHS.
Below is a look at the top candidates in the chase for the 2011 Mr. Football USA. Every Tuesday during the regular season we’ll update the totals of many leading contenders as well as examine some of the new names that are emerging as strong contenders.
DE Mario Edwards Jr., Denton Ryan (Denton, Texas)
This week: Edwards, the top-ranked recruit nationwide by ESPNU, made five tackles but was held without a sack and suffered an ankle injury in the second half and missed some time in Ryan's 28-22 double overtime win over Mesquite (Mesquite, Texas).
Season totals: 26 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles; team is 4-0 and No. 42 in the POWERADE FAB 50
Stock – Slightly Down: It's hard to expect Edwards to get a sack in every game, but as a strickly one-way defensive player trying to contend for a national player of the year honor, it's probably what he has to do at minimum to compete with offensive players.
RB Johnathan Gray, Aledo (Aledo, Texas)
This week: The all-time touchdown scorer in Texas high school football and his team were off this weekend.
Season totals: 69 carries for 813 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing in two games; Aledo is 1-2
Stock – Same: Gray continues to shred Texas high school defenses and is now the Texas state record-holder for career TDs with 148 and counting.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
This week: The nation’s No. 1 ranked WR by ESPNU was back to posting big numbers Friday night after being held to under 100 yards by Joplin the prior week. Green-Beckham shredded the Camdenton (Camdenton, Mo.) secondary for 215 yards and two scores on 12 catches in a 31-21 victory.
Season Totals: 43 catches for 734 yards and seven touchdowns; team is 3-1
Stock – Up: Green-Beckham continues put up big numbers and that combined with his physical talent is making him a top candidate for this honor.
QB Alec Morris, Allen (Allen, Texas)
This week: Morris and his teammates had a bye week to prepare for the start of district play.
Season totals: 60-of-95 for 935 yards and 13 touchdowns with no interceptions, 78 yards and two touchdowns rushing; team is 3-0 and No. 4 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Same: Morris is emerging as a serious, serious contender for this honor, putting huge numbers for a team that right now looks as good as any nationally.
RB Rushel Shell, Hopewell (Aliquippa, Pa.)
This week: The nation’s third-ranked back had the game of his young life Friday night, carrying 31 times for 367 yards and five touchdowns yards while also catching two passes for 101 yards and a touchdown in a 55-28 win over Moon Area (Coroapolis, Pa.).
Season totals: 91 carries for 748 yards and eight touchdowns, one receiving touchdown; team is 3-0.
Stock – Up: Shell now has 7,514 yards on his career and needs just 132 yards to tie the WPIAL all-time rushing mark.
ATH Stefon Diggs, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
This week: Diggs had a hand in Good Counsel's 35-3 romp past Valley Forge Military (Valley Forge, Pa.) catching four passes for 88 yards including a 51-yard touchdown pass.
Season totals: 12 receptions for 257 yards and three touchdowns, 23 yards rushing; team is 3-0 and ranked No. 10 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Same: Diggs is posting solid numbers and has a game-winning catch already on his resume for top 10 caliber Good Counsel.
RB Duke Johnson, Miami Norland (Miami, Fla.)
This week: Johnson played in just the first quarter of Norland's 35-6 rout of North Miami (Miami, Fla.), scoring once and racking up 74 yards on eight carries.
Season Totals: 25 carries for 227 yards and three TDs, one kickoff return for a touchdown in two games, team is 3-0 and No. 25 in FAB 50.
Stock – Same: Coming off his electric three-touchdown outing versus Northwestern, Johnson and most of the Norland regulars saw little action after jumping out early. He remains perhaps the most exciting player in the nation however.
RB T.J. Yeldon, Daphne (Daphne, Ala.)
This week: Yeldon, the nation’s No. 8 rated back by ESPNU and an Auburn commit, carried 12 times for 164 yards and four touchdowns in Daphne's 41-0 rout of Williamson (Mobile, Ala.)
Season totals: 66 carries for 797 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing; team is 4-0 and ranked No. 35 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Up: Yeldon is a big-time talent on the defending 6A state champions and arguably the top team in Alabama. He's currently averaging over 12 yards a carry.
ON THE RADAR
WR Gehrig Dieter, Washington (South Bend, Ind.)
This week: Dieter is seeing increased attention from defenses after his record-setting start to the year, but still caught four passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns, however Washington fell to Marian (Mishawaka, Ind.) 28-14.
Season Totals: 36 catches for 1,289 yards and 14 touchdowns; team is 4-1
Stock – Slightly Down: Dieter’s pace is beginning to slow and he'll need to ratchet it back up a few notches here to stay in the mix in the coming weeks.
QB Gunner Kiel, Columbus East (Columbus, Ind.)
This week: Kiel hit 13-of-17 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns with a score rushing as East trounced New Albany (New Albany, Ind.) 60-20.
Season Totals: 53-of-101 passing for 991 yards and 11 touchdowns with one interception, with four rushing touchdowns; team is 4-1.
Stock – Same: Kiel had his most efficient night of the year so far, and East's attack has really gotten into a groove heading into the second half of its regular season schedule.
RB Jordan Walker, Rockhurst (Kansas City, Mo.)
This week: Walker was on his way to a big night with a first quarter 68-yard touchdown run, before leaving with a knee injury in Rockhurst's 34-14 win over Liberty (Liberty, Mo.). He finished with 83 yards and the score on just four carries.
Season totals: 81 carries, 817 yards, eight touchdowns rushing, one receiving touchdown; team is 4-0 and ranked No 38 in the FAB 50.
Stock - Same: Walker still is averaging over 200 yards a contest and 10 yard a carry. He's questionable this week as he tries to get back on the field for the Hawklets.
RB Trey Williams, Dekaney (Spring, Texas)
This week: Williams and Dekaney, like many teams in Texas this week, were off.
Season totals: 71 carries for 643 yards and eight touchdowns with one receiving touchdown; team is 3-0.
Stock – Same:Williams, who ran for over 2,200 yards as a junior and 1,900 yards as a sophomore, is clearly on pace for another huge year. Can he keep it up when Dekaney gets into its tougher district games against Klein Collins and Westfield?
QB Jameis Winston, Hueytown (Hueytown, Ala.)
This week: Winston threw for 202 yards and two touchdown passes, ran for 100 yards and two scores and caught a 26-yard touchdown pass as Hueytown crushed McAdory (McCalla, Ala.) 48-14 on ESPNU Friday night.
Season Totals: 62-of-92 for 919 yards and 11 touchdowns with three interceptions, 391 yards and seven touchdowns rushing, one touchdown reception; team is 5-0.
Stock – Up: Winston showed the entire tool-kit of attributes Friday night on ESPNU that have him currently rated as the nation's top quarterback.
SMALL SCHOOL STAT KINGS
QB Neal Burcham, Greenbrier (Greenbrier, Ark.)
This week: Burcham hit 30-of-42 passes for 471 yards and three scores while rushing for a fourth touchdown as Greenbrier won a 42-35 shootout over Benton (Benton, Ark.) Friday night.
Season Totals: 60-of-84 for 1,045 yards and 11 touchdowns with one interception and one rushing touchdown; team is 3-0
Stock – Up: Burcham picked up two offers from SMU and Cincinnati last week and this big outing only boosts his already soaring stock.
QB Maty Mauk, Kenton (Kenton, Ohio)
This week: Mauk had another ho-hum big statline Friday night, completing 33-of-53 passes for 480 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions as Kenton topped Shawnee (Lima, Ohio) 34-7.
Season Totals: 109-of-160 for 1,489 yards and 18 touchdowns with five interceptions, 59 carries for 416 yards and four touchdowns; team is 4-0
Stock – Same: Mauk continues to fill up the box score - the telling time for him will be in the playoffs and if he can lead Kenton to a small school title in Ohio this year.
JUNIOR IN THE MIX
QB Riley Ferguson, Butler (Matthews, N.C.)
This week: Ferguson passed for 256 yards and five touchdowns while also catching a TD pass in just one half of action as the Bulldogs crushed Myers Park (Charlotte) 77-14.
Season Totals: 1,148 yards and 16 touchdowns passing with one receiving touchdown; team is 3-1.
Stock – Same: Ferguson continues to put up huge numbers, but he'll need to lead Butler to a state title and high ranking to legitimately contend come year end.
MOVING OFF THE TRACKER:
QB Bart Houston, De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
Comments: Houston is a great prospect and could very well lead De La Salle to another state title in California, but through two games with less than 200 total yards passing and more interceptions than touchdowns, his resume doesn't matchup well with the top candidates for this honor.
RB/DB Shaq Thompson, Grant (Sacramento, Calif.)
Comments: Thompson has been electric on both sides of the ball when healthy, but after missing this Saturday's game with a thigh bruise and Grant losing its second game to all eliminate the Pacers from California state bowl contention, one of the Golden State's top prospects drops from the race at this point.
Disagree with this list or have suggestions/comments of who should be added for consideration? Email Brian Stumpf at email@example.com, hit him up on Twitter @BrianStumpfESPN or post in the comments section below.