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Eye on POY: Arkansas football

11/15/2011

The window on the Gatorade State Football Player of the Year race is closing, and time is running out for student-athletes to state their POY case. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program's selection process.

Neal Burcham

Senior Quarterback, Greenbrier (Greenbrier, Ark.)

2011 Team record: 9-2

2011 Team standing: Class 5A state quarterfinal vs. Batesville on Nov. 18

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 232-328 (70.7)-3,434

2011 TDs-INTs: 42-10

Academics: B-plus average

Collegiate destination: Southern Methodist University (verbal)

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Co-MVP of ESPNHS Elite 11 Quarterback Camp. Tied state record with 8 touchdown passes in one game. State semifinal appearance in 2010. 107 career TD passes. 2010 All-State selection.

Fredi Knighten

Senior Quarterback, Pulaski Academy (Little Rock, Ark.)

2011 Team record: 10-0

2011 Team standing: Class 4A second round vs. Osceola on Nov. 18

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 195-265 (73.6)-3,397

2011 TDs-INTs: 49-5

Academics: B-plus average

Collegiate destination: Undecided

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Top-ranked team in Class 4A. 2010 All-State selection. 563 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Football Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011 campaign.

Zac Brooks Jonesboro (Ark.) senior running back

Zach Conque: Little Rock Catholic (Little Rock, Ark.) senior quarterback

Defonta Lowe: Bearden (Ark.) senior quarterback

Dallas Hardison: Bentonville (Ark.) senior quarterback

Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com or Twitter @ESPNHS_GPOY.