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, enjoyed a week off with his teammates. Denton Ryan retakes the field this Thursday versus Rider (Wichita Falls, Texas).
Season totals: 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles; team is 5-0 and No. 38 in the POWERADE FAB 50
Stock – Same: Edwards' bye week comes at a perfect time. He can get fully healthy and try to put together a strong second half and push towards 20 sacks.
RB Johnathan Gray, Aledo (Aledo, Texas)
This week: Despite only playing 2 1/2 quarters Friday night, Gray vaulted from fifth to third all-time in the national record book in scoring, rushing 16 times for 342 yards and seven touchdowns (42, 31, 30, 8, 14, 8 and 69 yards) as Aledo destroyed winless Springtown (Springtown, Texas) 83-21.
Season totals: 93 carries for 1,364 yards and 24 touchdowns rushing, one touchdown receiving; Aledo is 3-2
Stock – Up: Gray’s numbers continue to boggle the mind as he's averaging nearly 275 yards per game and nearly 15 yards per carry. He now has scored 962 points in his illustrious career.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
This week: The nation’s No. 1 ranked WR by ESPNU helped his team to a fourth straight win Friday night, catching seven passes for 159 yards and a touchdown in a 42-14 victory over Waynesville (Waynesville, Mo.).
Season Totals: 60 catches for 1,023 yards and 10 touchdowns; team is 5-1
Stock – Same: Green-Beckham continues to dominate and just as importantly he's also opening things up for his teammates (Stewart Andress rushing for 200 yards and four TDs Friday night) and helping Hillcrest to wins on the field.
QB Alec Morris, Allen (Allen, Texas)
This week: Morris had his first "off-game" of the year Friday night, hitting just 6-of-17 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns, but Missouri-bound RB Jonathan Williams picked up the slack with 233 yards rushing as Allen still crushed Lewisville (Lewisville, Texas) 45-13
Season totals: 88-of-144 for 1,357 yards and 19 touchdowns with no interceptions, 84 yards and two touchdowns rushing; team is 5-0 and No. 3 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Same: Morris showed Friday that he is indeed human, but even with an off night he still has eye-popping overall numbers through five games for the nation's No. 3 team.
ATH Stefon Diggs, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
This week: Diggs caught four passes for 125 yards and also contributed an interception and several big hits in the secondary as Good Counsel topped Red Lion Christian (Bear, Del.) on Saturday 34-14
Season totals: 22 receptions for 483 yards and five touchdowns, one touchdown rushing, one interception; team is 5-0 and ranked No. 8 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Same: Diggs continues to make big plays in each game, however the balance of Good Counsel really prevents him from putting up huge overall numbers.
RB Rushel Shell, Hopewell (Aliquippa, Pa.)
This week: The nation’s third-ranked back was subdued to just 109 yards and no scores on 26 carries as Blackhawk (Beaver Falls, Pa.) took it to Hopewell 37-13 on Friday night.
Season totals: 149 carries for 1,062 yards and 11 touchdowns, one receiving touchdown; team is 4-1.
Stock – Slightly Down: Hopewell has made great strides from '10, but showed Friday that good teams can slow down the entire operation by stacking the box against Shell.
RB T.J. Yeldon, Daphne (Daphne, Ala.)
This week: Yeldon, the nation’s No. 8 rated back by ESPNU and an Auburn commit, had a short night of work in Daphne's 42-0 rout of Satsuma (Satsuma, Ala.) Friday night, carrying three times for 105 yards and scoring on runs of 70 and 23 yards.
Season totals: 93 carries for 1,110 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing; team is 6-0 and ranked No. 30 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Same: Yeldon continues to impress, the Satsuma game brings to light prior concerns however that Daphne blowouts may prevent him from compiling the numbers he is capable of putting up were he in more competitive games.
ON THE RADAR
QB Gunner Kiel, Columbus East (Columbus, Ind.)
This week: Kiel and Columbus East continue to roll roughshod through conference competition, crushing Madison (Madison, Ind.) 69-28 this week. The Indiana commit completed 11-of-13 passes for 177 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for 55 yards.
Season Totals: 72-of-127 passing for 1,373 yards and 18 touchdowns with one interception, with six rushing touchdowns; team is 6-1.
Stock – Slightly Up: Kiel has helped his team rise to No. 4 in the Indiana Class 4A state rankings after a disappointing week 2 loss to rival Columbus North.
RB Trey Williams, Dekaney (Spring, Texas)
This week: Williams was spectacular on the biggest stage Friday night, rushing 26 times for 219 yards and two scores while also catching a 23-yard touchdown pass as Dekaney shocked district favorite Klein Collins (Spring, Texas) 42-31.
Season totals: 128 carries for 1,141 yards and 13 touchdowns with two receiving touchdown; team is 5-0.
Stock – Up: If there wasn't a back named Gray in Texas, Williams would be the talk of the Lone Star State, averaging nearly 230 yards and three touchdowns per contest.
QB Jameis Winston, Hueytown (Hueytown, Ala.)
This week: Winston and his Class 5A top-ranked Hueytown teammates made short work of Parker (Birmingham, Ala.) on homecoming, winning 54-8. The Elite 11 co-MVP accounted for 170 yards and five touchdowns.
Season Totals: 79-of-124 for 1,107 yards and 15 touchdowns with three interceptions, 504 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing, one touchdown reception; team is 7-0.
Stock – Same: Winston has his team primed for a deep run in the playoffs; a 15-game season and state title could look very nice on his Mr. Football USA resume.
SMALL SCHOOL STAT KINGS
QB Neal Burcham, Greenbrier (Greenbrier, Ark.)
This week: Burcham hit 8-of-13 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for a fourth and not playing in the second half as Greenbrier crushed Huntsville (Huntsville, Ark) 53-14.
Season Totals: 81-of-116 for 1,517 yards and 17 touchdowns with one interception and two rushing touchdowns; team is 5-0
Stock – Same: If there was a high school QB rating, it'd be hard to find one who'd be rated higher than Burcham, who's completing 69.8% of his passes and averaging 13.1 yards per attempt.
QB Maty Mauk, Kenton (Kenton, Ohio)
This week: Mauk once again topped 400 yards of total offense, and Kenton needed every bit of his production, barely outlasting now 4-2 Elida (Elida, Ohio) 30-28. Mauk hit 36-of-55 passes for 384 yards and three scores while also rushing for 37 yards and a touchdown.
Season Totals: 166-of-248 for 2,101 yards and 23 touchdowns with eight interceptions, 98 carries for 626 yards and eight touchdowns; team is 6-0
Stock – Same: Mauk is now averaging over 450 yards of total offense per game and has accounted for 31 touchdowns in six games.
MOVING OFF THE TRACKER:
WR Gehrig Dieter, Washington (South Bend, Ind.)
Comments: Although Dieter has season totals of 44 catches for 1,421 yards and 16 touchdowns through seven games, he was held too just one reception last week and his team's record is 4-3. One of the nation's top wideouts and an All-American candidate for sure, he just hasn't been able to keep up the pace he set early in the year to stay in Mr. Football contention.
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.