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, had three sacks and forced a fumble as Ryan held on for a 42-28 win over Lake Dallas (Corinth, Texas).
Season totals: 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles; team is 5-0 and No. 38 in the POWERADE FAB 50
Stock – Up: Edwards bounced back after a down game to come through for his team in the clutch and keep the Raiders unbeaten.
RB Johnathan Gray, Aledo (Aledo, Texas)
This week: Gray became the all-time leading scorer in Texas (920 points) and moved to fifth all-time nationally in Friday night’s 62-17 rout of Timber Creek (Keller, Texas), rushing for 209 yards and four touchdowns on just eight carries while also catching two passes for 61 yards and a fifth score.
Season totals: 77 carries for 1,022 yards and 17 touchdowns rushing, one touchdown receiving; Aledo is 2-2
Stock – Up: Gray’s numbers continue to boggle the mind. Despite being a marked man every time he steps on the field he’s now averaging over 13 yards per carry, over 250 yards and four touchdowns per contest.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
This week: The nation’s No. 1 ranked WR by ESPNU had another big night Friday, catching 10 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns as Hillcrest trounced Glendale (Springfield, Mo.) 35-8.
Season Totals: 53 catches for 864 yards and nine touchdowns; team is 4-1
Stock – Slightly Up: Green-Beckham is now averaging a ridiculous 10 catches and 170 yards per game receiving.
QB Alec Morris, Allen (Allen, Texas)
This week: Missouri-bound RB Jonathan Williams returned from injury for Allen this week but it was still Alec Morris leading the attack, as the Alabama recruit completed 22-of-32 for 306 yards and four touchdowns in a 44-7 rout of previously undefeated Plano (Plano, Texas).
Season totals: 82-of-127 for 1,241 yards and 17 touchdowns with no interceptions, 77 yards and two touchdowns rushing; team is 4-0 and No. 3 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Slightly Up: Morris continues to play as well as any high school QB in the nation, averaging 310 yards and four touchdowns per game so far.
RB Rushel Shell, Hopewell (Aliquippa, Pa.)
This week: The nation’s third-ranked back broke the WPIAL career rushing mark, that was previously 7.646 yards by Mike Vernillo, Friday night in 27-20 win over Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh). Shell carried 32 times for 205 yards and three touchdowns in the victory and now sets his sights on the Pennsylvania career state record of 9,027 yards, held by Jeremiah Young.
Season totals: 123 carries for 953 yards and 11 touchdowns, one receiving touchdown; team is 4-0.
Stock – Up: Shell now has 7,718 yards on his career and is averaging nearly 240 yards per game rushing this fall.
ATH Stefon Diggs, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
This week: Diggs caught six passes for 101 yards and two scores while also rushing for a touchdown as Good Counsel routed Gonzaga Prep (Washington, D.C.) 49-7 on Saturday.
Season totals: 18 receptions for 358 yards and five touchdowns, one touchdown rushing; team is 4-0 and ranked No. 9 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Slightly Up: Diggs had his biggest game of the year, accounting for three touchdowns in an easy win. He'll need to keep up this pace to stay in serious Mr. Football USA consideration.
RB T.J. Yeldon, Daphne (Daphne, Ala.)
This week: Yeldon, the nation’s No. 8 rated back by ESPNU and an Auburn commit, carried 24 times for 208 yards and three touchdowns in Daphne's 41-20 win over Theodore (Theodore, Ala.).
Season totals: 90 carries for 1,005 yards and 14 touchdowns rushing; team is 5-0 and ranked No. 32 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Up: Yeldon continues to carry Daphne to victories. He's now averaging over 200 yards and nearly three TDs on the ground per contest.
ON THE RADAR
WR Gehrig Dieter, Washington (South Bend, Ind.)
This week: Dieter failed to top 100 yards receiving in a third straight game, catching seven passes for 79 yards and one touchdown in Washington's 17-6 loss to Penn (Mishawaka, Ind.).
Season Totals: 43 catches for 1,368 yards and 15 touchdowns; team is 4-2
Stock – Slightly Down: Dieter is still averaging over 200 yards and 2.5 TDs per contest, but he needs to get back to having bigger games and helping his team to victories to stay in the mix.
QB Gunner Kiel, Columbus East (Columbus, Ind.)
This week: Kiel hit 8-of-13 passes for 205 yards and three touchdowns with two scores rushing as East topped league-rival Floyd Central (, Ind.) 35-21.
Season Totals: 61-of-114 passing for 1,196 yards and 14 touchdowns with one interception, with six rushing touchdowns; team is 5-1.
Stock – Slightly Up: Kiel has picked it up in conference play, and has been highly efficient and productive since a shaky season opener.
RB Trey Williams, Dekaney (Spring, Texas)
This week: Williams had another monster night on Friday, rushing 31 times for 279 yards and three touchdowns as Dekaney moved to 4-0 with a 41-15 win over Spring (Spring, Texas).
Season totals: 102 carries for 922 yards and 11 touchdowns with one receiving touchdown; team is 4-0.
Stock – Up:Williams is not only putting up huge numbers this fall, as he’s done his whole career, but now also leading his team to wins.
QB Jameis Winston, Hueytown (Hueytown, Ala.)
This week: A week after shining in an ESPNU televised game, Winston struggled, completing just 7-of-19 passes for 58 yards but still ran for 73 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-20 win against Shades Valley (Birmingham, Ala.).
Season Totals: 69-of-111 for 977 yards and 11 touchdowns with three interceptions, 464 yards and nine touchdowns rushing, one touchdown reception; team is 6-0.
Stock – Down: Winston has still accounted for over three touchdowns a game and has his team undefeated and looking good, but Friday's ugly statline doesn't help him keep pace with others on this list.
SMALL SCHOOL STAT KINGS
QB Neal Burcham, Greenbrier (Greenbrier, Ark.)
This week: Burcham completed 13-of-19 passes for 282 yards and four touchdowns while barely playing in the second half as Greenbrier crushed Harrison (Harrison, Ark) in its conference opener.
Season Totals: 73-of-93 for 1,327 yards and 15 touchdowns with one interception and one rushing touchdown; team is 4-0
Stock – Up: Burcham rivals Alec Morris right now as perhaps the top performing high school quarterback in the nation, completing nearly 80% of his passes so far and averaging over 330 yards per game.
QB Maty Mauk, Kenton (Kenton, Ohio)
This week: Mauk struggled through the air by his standards and had to turn to his feet, rushing 26 times for 173 yards and three scores in a 36-20 win over previously undefeated Ottawa-Glandorf (Ottawa, Ohio). Through the air he was 21-of-33 for 228 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted three times.
Season Totals: 130-of-193 for 1,717 yards and 20 touchdowns with eight interceptions, 85 carries for 589 yards and seven touchdowns; team is 5-0
Stock – Slightly Down: Mauk showed his ability to win games with his legs this week, but at the same time threw three more interceptions and now has eight on the year.
MOVING OFF THE TRACKER:
QB Riley Ferguson, Butler (Matthews, N.C.)
Comments: Ferguson is putting up strong numbers and on track for another big season, but for a junior like himself to be considered for Mr. Football USA, his performance really has to be transcendent, which you can't really say as Butler had its long winning streak snapped in the season opener.
RB Duke Johnson, Miami Norland (Miami, Fla.)
Comments: Johnson missed his second game of the year this week, nursing a sore ankle as Norland crushed Miami Springs (Miami Springs, Fla.). While he remains one of the nation's most electric players with the ball in his hand, Duke has now missed two of his team's four games and just isn't putting up the numbers to stay in Mr. Football USA contention at this point.
RB Jordan Walker, Rockhurst (Kansas City, Mo.)
Comments: Walker was having a breakout senior season, carrying 81 times for 817 yards and eight touchdowns with one receiving touchdown through the first three games and a quarter for Rockhurst before suffering a knee injury that has sidelined him for Rockhurst’s last seven quarters. He hopes to make it back soon but missing all this time with an uncertain return moves him off the tracker for now.
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.