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 27 times for 198 yards and three touchdowns while also totaling 39 yards on three receptions as Aledo routed Dunbar (Fort Worth, Texas) 59-10 in a Class 4A playoff game.
Season totals: 224 carries for 2,628 yards and 51 touchdowns rushing, 21 catches for 457 yards and four scores receiving; Aledo is 9-2
Stock – Same: Gray is now 14 touchdowns and 104 points behind the all-time high school leaders in those two categories, former Michigan RB Mike Hart, who prepped at Onondaga (Nedrow, N.Y.). Aledo continues its postseason Thursday with Mansfield Summit (Arlington, Texas).
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
This week: The nation’s No. 1 ranked WR by ESPNU had his high school career come to a shocking end on Friday, as he caught seven passes for 57 yards in a 49-0 loss to Webb City (Webb City, Mo.).
Season Totals: 119 catches for 2,233 yards and 24 touchdowns, one rushing touchdown; team finished 11-2
Stock – Slightly Down: Green-Beckham was held in check as Hillcrest was pounded in a Class 4 state quarterfinal. His individual numbers on the season remain staggering, however.
QB Maty Mauk, Kenton (Kenton, Ohio)
This week: With the passing game relatively shutdown (Mauk completed 15-of-27 passes for 239 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions), the senior Missouri-recruit took to the ground Friday night, rushing 26 times for 211 yards and three scores in a 32-22 win over Genoa Area (Genoa, Ohio).
Season Totals: 316-of-447 for 4,487 yards and 58 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, 190 carries for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns; team is 12-0
Stock – Same: Mauk, high school football's all-time career passing leader, showed the ability to win games with his legs as well on Friday. The win sets up a showdown with defending Division IV state champion Bishop Hartley (Columbus, Ohio) in a state quarterfinal this week.
QB Alec Morris, Allen (Allen, Texas)
This week: Morris led Allen to yet another fourth-quarter comeback Saturday, passing and rushing for scores in the fourth quarter as the Eagles scored 17 straight for a 30-17 win. On the night Morris hit 14-of-21 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 27 yards and a touchdown.
Season totals: 190-of-303 for 3,047 yards and 34 touchdowns with six interceptions, 316 yards and nine touchdowns rushing; team is 11-0 and No. 3 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Same: Morris now has led five fourth quarter comeback victories for Allen this fall. The Eagles will face their biggest test to date on Saturday at Cowboys Stadium versus FAB 50 No. 8 Trinity (Euless, Texas).
RB Trey Williams, Dekaney (Spring, Texas)
This week: Williams had his third straight 300-yard outing Saturday, rushing 36 times for 358 yards and two touchdowns as Dekaney topped College Park (The Woodlands, Texas) 27-21 for the first playoff victory in school history.
Season totals: 288 carries for 2,778 yards and 31 touchdowns with two receiving touchdowns; team is 9-2.
Stock – Up: Williams continues to step his game up each and every week and has now actually ran for more yards than fellow Lone Star standout Johnathan Gray this fall. The Texas A&M commit leads Dekaney versus Pflugerville (Pflugerville, Texas) a 5A area round matchup this Saturday.
ON THE RADAR
DE Mario Edwards Jr., Denton Ryan (Denton, Texas)
This week: Edwards, the top-ranked recruit nationwide by ESPNU, had a big night in Ryan's playoff opener, recording six tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack that resulted in a safety in the Raiders' 43-21 win over Caprock (Amarillo, Texas).
Season totals: 13.5 sacks and four forced fumbles; team is 11-0 and No. 33 in the POWERADE FAB 50
Stock – Slightly Up: Edwards stepped his game up in the first game of the postseason, giving Ryan an 8-7 lead in the first quarter with a safety that they would not relinquish.
QB Gunner Kiel, Columbus East (Columbus, Ind.)
This week: Kiel hit 7-of-12 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 90 yards as Columbus East crushed Evansville Central (Evansville, Ind.) in a Class 4A semi, 49-0.
Season Totals: 115-of-213 passing for 2,307 yards and 28 touchdowns with three interceptions, with 485 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns in 12 games; team is 12-1.
Stock – Same: Kiel and his teammates will now take on Class 4A No. 1 Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.) in a state semifinal.
RB Rushel Shell, Hopewell (Aliquippa, Pa.)
This week: The Pitt commit ran 33 times for 292 yards and three touchdowns, but it wasn't enough as Hopewell fell 24-21 to undefeated Franklin Regional (Murrysville, Pa.) in a second round Class AAA matchup.
Season totals: 306 carries for 2,325 yards and 27 touchdowns, one receiving touchdown in 10 games; team finished 7-4, missed one game with a concussion.
Stock – Same: Shell did all he could in defeat, 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.
QB Jameis Winston, Hueytown (Hueytown, Ala.)
This week: Winston and Hueytown eschewed the pass in a 51-14 rout of Eufaula (Eufauala, Ala.), rushing 55 times for 298 yards as a team. Winston hit 3-of-4 passes for 43 yards and a score while rushing 15 times for 63 yards and a touchdown.
Season Totals: 144-of-215 for 2,078 yards and 25 touchdowns with five interceptions, 1,026 yards and 17 touchdowns rushing, one touchdown reception; team is 13-0.
Stock – Slightly Down: Winston went over 1,000 yards rushing for the year and has now accounted for 42 touchdowns, but it's tough to move up in the race as a quarterback when you only pass for 43 yards.
MOVING ONTO THE TRACKER
RB Kelvin Taylor, Glades Day (Belle Glade, Fla.)
This week: Taylor, a junior and son of former NFL RB Fred Taylor, carried 34 times for 388 yards and six touchdowns to break Emmitt Smith's Florida state career rushing record Friday night in a 43-22 win over South Fork (Stuart, Fla.).
Season Totals: 232 carries for 2,329 yards and 33 touchdowns, team is 7-3.
Stock – Up: Taylor, a 5-11, 205 back who's already narrowed his choices to Alabama and Florida despite being just a junior, now has 8,975 yards and 141 career touchdowns, after playing up on varsity as an eighth-grader at Glades Day. While he doesn't face the greatest competition at the Class 2A level in Florida, there's no denying his ability.
MOVING OFF THE TRACKER
RB Mike Davis, Stephenson (Stone Mountain, Ga.)
Comments: Davis ran for 92 yards but it wasn't enough as Stephenson's season came to an end in a 7-0 loss to Lowndes (Valdosta, Ga.) in a Class AAAAA opening round game. Davis, a Florida recruit, finishes the year with 1,878 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground.
RB T.J. Yeldon, Daphne (Daphne, Ala.)
Comments: Yeldon, the nation’s No. 7 back according to ESPNU and an Auburn commit, ran 27 times for 90 yards and caught four passes for 20 yards as Daphne's quest for back-to-back 6A state titles came to an end in a 13-3 loss to Prattville (Prattville, Ala.). Yeldon finishes the year with 237 carries for 2,183 yards and 30 touchdowns with another two touchdown receptions.
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.