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.
RB Johnathan Gray, Aledo (Aledo, Texas)
This week: Gray tallied five more touchdowns Friday night, rushing 21 times for 197 yards and three scores while also catching three passes for 67 yards and two TDs in Aledo's 50-7 victory over Byron Nelson (Fort Worth, Texas).
Season totals: 114 carries for 1,561 yards and 27 touchdowns rushing, 13 catches for 218 yards and three scores receiving; Aledo is 4-2
Stock – Slightly Up: Gray’s continues to accumulate single-season and career stats that jump off the page. He now has 8,567 yards and 165 career touchdowns.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
This week: The nation’s No. 1 ranked WR by ESPNU shredded the Rolla (Rolla, Mo.) secondary Friday night to the tune of 13 receptions for a season-high 354 yards and three touchdowns as Hillcrest improved to 6-1 with a 40-19 victory.
Season Totals: 73 catches for 1,377 yards and 13 touchdowns; team is 6-1
Stock – Up: Green-Beckham is now up to 5,501 career receiving yards and is just 307 yards away from breaking the national career receiving yardage record held by former Evangel Christian (Shreveport, La.) WR Abram Booty.
DE Mario Edwards Jr., Denton Ryan (Denton, Texas)
This week: Edwards, the top-ranked recruit nationwide by ESPNU, had just two tackles, both for loss, as Ryan held on for a narrow 20-17 win over Rider (Wichita Falls, Texas).
Season totals: 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles; team is 6-0 and No. 41 in the POWERADE FAB 50
Stock – Slightly Down: Edwards can't control opposing teams running away from him and gameplanning against him, but at the same time if he is going to seriously contend for Mr. Football USA as a one-way defensive player, he can't have very many zero sack efforts.
QB Alec Morris, Allen (Allen, Texas)
This week: Despite battling laser pointers in his eyes from the opposing crowd and a fired up Plano East squad, Morris led Allen to a come-from-behind 42-38 victory Thursday night on ESPN2, passing for 277 yards and two scores while also rushing for a touchdown.
Season totals: 107-of-172 for 1,634 yards and 21 touchdowns with no interceptions, 97 yards and three touchdowns rushing; team is 6-0 and No. 3 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Same: Morris helped his team battle through some adversity Thursday night, but an up-and-down showing on TV versus a marginal opponent didn't help his stock.
RB Rushel Shell, Hopewell (Aliquippa, Pa.)
This week: The nation’s third-ranked back sat out Friday night's 32-28 loss to New Castle (New Castle, Pa.) with a mild concussion; he's expected to return for this Friday's ESPNU televised game versus Central Valley (Monaca, Pa.).
Season totals: 149 carries for 1,062 yards and 11 touchdowns, one receiving touchdown; team is 4-2.
Stock – Down: Nearly 30 carries per game seem to be taking some toll on Shell. He'll have a bounceback opportunity on ESPNU this weekend.
ON THE RADAR
ATH Stefon Diggs, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
This week: Diggs caught three passes for 42 yards and also scored on a 62-yard punt return as Good Counsel topped rival DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 35-21 on Saturday.
Season totals: 25 receptions for 525 yards and five touchdowns, one touchdown rushing, one punt return touchdown, one interception; team is 6-0 and ranked No. 6 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Slightly Down: Diggs' talent is undeniable, but with several other top talents on Good Counsel's offense, his overall numbers suffer by not being the hub of his team's attack like most other Mr. Football USA candidates.
QB Gunner Kiel, Columbus East (Columbus, Ind.)
This week: Kiel and Columbus East continue to roll roughshod through conference competition, routing Jeffersonville (Jeffersonville, Ind.) 48-19. Kiel hit 12-of-17 for 257 yards and a score with two rushing touchdowns.
Season Totals: 84-of-144 passing for 1,630 yards and 19 touchdowns with two interceptions, with eight rushing touchdowns; team is 7-1.
Stock – Same: Kiel has Columbus East rolling. The Olympians wrap up regular season play this week and then will start what they hope to be a run through the playoffs to a 4A state title.
RB Trey Williams, Dekaney (Spring, Texas)
This week: Williams was shutdown along with the rest of his teammates by Klein Oak (Spring, Texas) on Saturday in a 38-6 loss. Williams was held down most of the game before scoring from 53 yards out with under three minutes remaining, finishing with 22 carries for 139 yards and the score.
Season totals: 150 carries for 1,280 yards and 14 touchdowns with two receiving touchdown; team is 5-1.
Stock – Down: Unfair as it maybe, Williams has to put his team on his back each week and lead them to wins to keep up in this race.
QB Jameis Winston, Hueytown (Hueytown, Ala.)
This week: Missing several of his receivers due to suspensions, Winston took matters into his own hands Friday night, rushing 23 times for 160 yards and three touchdown while also passing for 95 yards and a fourth score as Hueytown held off Fairfield (Fairfield, Ala.) for a 35-22 win.
Season Totals: 87-of-138 for 1,202 yards and 16 touchdowns with four interceptions, 664 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing, one touchdown reception; team is 8-0.
Stock – Slightly Up: Winston showed the ability again Friday night to put his team on his back and will them to victory by any means necessary.
RB T.J. Yeldon, Daphne (Daphne, Ala.)
This week: Yeldon, the nation’s No. 8 rated back by ESPNU and an Auburn commit, had another short night of work in Daphne's 42-21 rout of Robertsdale (Robertsdale, Ala.) Friday night, carrying five times for 78 yards and two touchdowns while also catching a scoring pass.
Season totals: 98 carries for 1,188 yards and 18 touchdowns rushing, one receiving score; team is 7-0 and ranked No. 29 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Slightly Down: Yeldon continues to impress, yet this is back-to-back weeks that he's saw fewer than a half-dozen carries due to Daphne's early dominance of inferior opposition.
SMALL SCHOOL STAT KINGS
QB Neal Burcham, Greenbrier (Greenbrier, Ark.)
This week: Burcham's storybook senior year continued Friday night, as he hit 31-of-47 passes for 383 yards and five touchdowns to rally Greenbrier from deficits of 14-0 and 27-20 to a 39-34 win over Morrilton (Morrilton, Ark.).
Season Totals: 112-of-163 for 1,900 yards and 22 touchdowns with one interception and two rushing touchdowns; team is 6-0
Stock – Slightly Up: Burcham could end up being a legitimate candidate for this honor if he can keep this up and lead Greenbrier to a state title. That's how good he's been this fall.
QB Maty Mauk, Kenton (Kenton, Ohio)
This week: Like Burcham, Mauk continues to put up video game numbers against small school competition. The Missouri commit hit 21-of-27 passes for 418 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing 13 times for 207 yards and two more scores in a 64-42 shootout win over Bath (Lima, Ohio).
Season Totals: 187-of-275 for 2,519 yards and 30 touchdowns with eight interceptions, 111 carries for 833 yards and 10 touchdowns; team is 7-0
Stock – Up: Mauk's numbers are getting hard to ignore, as he broke his brother Ben's Ohio state career TD pass record this week. They need to result in a state title for serious Mr. Football USA candidacy.
MOVING ONTO THE TRACKER:
RB D.J. Foster, Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
This week: Foster continued his torrid pace this fall on Thursday, carrying eight times for 136 yards and five touchdowns, also adding scores on a pass reception, kickoff return and fumble return in Saguaro's 69-19 rout of Washington (Phoenix).
Season Totals: 104 carries for 1,369 yards and 28 touchdowns, 120 yards and one touchdown receiving, one kick return touchdown and a fumble return touchdown; team is 6-1.
Stock – Up: Foster is having perhaps the top senior season of any player on the West Coast and has a marquee test coming up in a few weeks against 5A Arizona power Chaparral of Scottsdale.
Disagree with this list or have suggestions/comments of who should be added for consideration? Email Brian Stumpf at firstname.lastname@example.org, hit him up on Twitter - @BrianStumpfESPN or post in the comments section below.