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: The nation's top-rated running back and 2010 ESPNHS Mr. Football USA carried 34 times for 321 yards and five touchdowns as Aledo routed Mansfield Summit (Mansfield, Texas) 59-23 in a Class 4A playoff game.
Season totals: 258 carries for 2,949 yards and 56 touchdowns rushing, 21 catches for 457 yards and four scores receiving; Aledo is 10-2
Stock – Up: Gray is now 9 touchdowns and 74 points behind the all-time high school leaders in those two categories, former Michigan RB Mike Hart, who prepped at Onondaga (Nedrow, N.Y.). In addition he became the third Texas player to top 10,000 career rushing yards in the win over Mansfield Summit. Aledo continues its postseason Friday with Canyon Randall (Amarillo, Texas).
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
Season Totals: 119 catches for 2,233 yards and 24 touchdowns, one rushing touchdown; team finished 11-2.
QB Maty Mauk, Kenton (Kenton, Ohio)
This week: The national all-time high school leader in passing yards and touchdowns completed 13-of-20 passes for 97 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions while also rushing 18 times for 164 yards and three touchdowns in a narrow 30-28 win over defending Division IV state champion Bishop Hartley (Columbus, Ohio).
Season Totals: 329-of-467 for 4,584 yards and 59 touchdowns with 12 interceptions, 208 carries for 1,664 yards and 22 touchdowns; team is 13-0
Stock – Same: Mauk was held under 300 yards passing for a second-straight week but was still able to lead his team to the win by using his legs. Kenton next faces Norwayne (Creston, Ohio) in a Division IV state semifinal.
ON THE RADAR
RB Kelvin Taylor, Glades Day (Belle Glade, Fla.)
This week: Taylor, a junior and son of former NFL RB Fred Taylor, carried 26 times for 210 yards and three touchdowns while also catching two passes for 66 yards and a TD in a 35-8 win over Champagnat Catholic (Hialeah, Fla.) in an opening round playoff game.
Season Totals: 258 carries for 2,539 yards and 36 touchdowns, 66 yards and one receiving touchdown; team is 8-3.
Stock – Same: Taylor went over 9,000 career rushing yards in the win and has Glades Day setup for a Palm Beach County showdown in a 2A second-round matchup versus Jupiter Christian (Jupiter, Fla.). Glades Day eliminated Jupiter Christian from the playoffs a year ago.
RB Trey Williams, Dekaney (Spring, Texas)
This week: Williams' had his streak of three straight 300-yard games snapped Saturday, but it was more because his team didn't need anymore from him in a 48-10 rout of Pflugerville (Pflugerville, Texas). The Texas A&M commit ran 19 times for 250 yards and four scores in the win.
Season totals: 307 carries for 3,028 yards and 35 touchdowns with two receiving touchdowns; team is 10-2.
Stock – Up: Williams continues to carry Dekaney to heights previously unreached by a school that had never won a playoff game prior to this year. Up next is the biggest test yet versus East Texas power Longview (Longview, Texas), who is currently ranked No. 40 in the FAB 50.
QB Jameis Winston, Hueytown (Hueytown, Ala.)
This week: Winston one of his best games of the year on Friday, hitting 12-of-16 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 71 yards and two scores as Hueytown topped St. Paul's (Mobile, Ala.) 39-13 in a 5A state quarterfinal.
Season Totals: 156-of-231 for 2,311 yards and 28 touchdowns with five interceptions, 1,097 yards and 19 touchdowns rushing, one touchdown reception; team is 14-0.
Stock – Slightly Up: Winston, the nation's top-rated QB in the ESPNU 150, has his team within two wins of a state title and has now accounted for 47 touchdowns despite spending numerous time on the bench due to blowouts.
UTAH QUARTERBACK SHOUT OUTS
QB Chase Hansen, Lone Peak (Highland, Utah)
Comments: Hansen, a 6-3, 200 pound Utah commit, wrapped up a storybook senior season with a huge outing in the Utah 5A state title game, passing for 242 yards and three touchdowns while rushing 24 times for 233 yards and two more in a 41-21 win touchdowns over Fremont (Plain City, Utah). Hansen finished the year 191-of-316 passing for 3,066 yards and 38 touchdowns with nine interceptions while rushing 180 times for 1,404 yards and 16 touchdowns, as Lone Peak went 14-0.
QB D.J. Nelson, Logan (Logan, Utah)
Comments: Nelson, a 5-10, 175 pound Utah State commit and younger brother of BYU QB Riley Nelson, also capped an undefeated 14-0 senior season with a state title on Friday, throwing the game-winning touchdown pass in an 18-11 win over East (Salt Lake City, Utah) with just 40 seconds remaining. Nelson finished the year with eye-opening stats, completing 267-of-427 passes for 3,489 yards and 49 touchdowns with just seven interceptions, also rushing 264 times for 1,605 yards and 25 more scores.
MOVING OFF THE TRACKER
DE Mario Edwards Jr., Denton Ryan (Denton, Texas)
Comments: Edwards, the top-ranked recruit nationwide by ESPNU, is having a fine year and has a great shot as repeating as the 4A Defensive Player of the Year in Texas with double-digit sacks and helping his team to a 12-0 record so far and No. 30 ranking in the POWERADE FAB 50. However, for a strictly one-way defensive player to legitimately challenge for National POY honors, he really needed a super-human season with 25-30 sacks, which at this point looks out of the realm of possibilities.
QB Gunner Kiel, Columbus East (Columbus, Ind.)
Comments: Kiel's stellar career came to a disappointing end Friday night, as he and his Columbus East teammates were overwhelmed by Class 4A No. 1 Cathedral (Indianapolis) 62-7 in a state semifinal. Kiel finished just 12-of-30 for 173 yards with an interception in the loss, and although he clearly is one of the nation's top quarterback prospects and a fine POY candidate in Indiana, he needed a state title and a signature win to stay in the Mr. Football USA mix.
QB Alec Morris, Allen (Allen, Texas)
Comments: Morris could not lead Allen to a sixth fourth-quarter comeback Saturday, as the Eagles' defense surrendered 510 yards rushing in a 28-21 loss to FAB 50 No. 5 Trinity (Euless, Texas). The Alabama commit completed just 12-of-25 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown in the defeat. He finished the year 202-of-328 for 3,239 yards and 35 touchdowns with six interceptions, while also rushing for 329 yards and nine touchdowns; team finished 11-1 and No. 38 in the FAB 50. The loss all but eliminates Morris' shot at national honors, but he did have an outstanding season and should be in the all-state mix in Texas.
RB Rushel Shell, Hopewell (Aliquippa, Pa.)
Comments: Shell had a strong senior campaign with 2,325 yards and 27 touchdowns in 10 games, including eclipsing the Pennsylvania career state rushing mark of 9,027 yards previously held by Jeremiah Young. Shell finished his brilliant career with 9,078 yards on the ground, however his team went only 7-4 and to just the second round of the playoffs.
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.