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.
Senior defensive end, Billy Ryan (Denton, Texas)
2011 Team record: 11-0
2011 Team standing: Class 5A, Division I area round vs. Andress on Saturday; No. 33 ranked team on the ESPNHS FAB 50
2011 Tackles: 60
2011 Tackles for loss: 30
2011 Sacks: 11
Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: Florida State University (verbal)
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: No. 1 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2012 Under Armour All-America Game selection. 2010 Class 4A Defensive Player of the Year as named by the Texas Sports Writers Association. Son of former Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Mario Edwards Sr. In the opening round of the 2011 Class 5A, Division I state tournament, recorded six tackles, three tackles for losses and a sack that resulted in a safety and gave the Raiders the lead for good in a 43-21 win over Caprock (Amarillo, Texas).
Senior running back, Aledo (Texas)
2011 Team record: 9-2
2011 Team standing: Class 4A, Division II area round vs. Mansfield Summit on Friday
2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 224-2,628 (11.7)-50
2011 Catches-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 21-465 (22.1)-5
Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: University of Texas (verbal)
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: 2010-11 Gatorade Texas Football Player of the Year. No. 8 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2012 Under Armour All-America Game selection. 2010 ESPNHS Mr. Football USA National Player of the Year. 2009 and 2010 Class 4A Player of the Year as named by the Texas Sports Writers Association. 2009 and 2010 Class 4A, Division II state championship game Most Valuable Player. 2009 and 2010 Class 4A, Division II state champion. In the opening round of the 2011 Class 4A, Division II state tournament, rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries in addition to catching three passes for 39 yards in a 59-10 victory against Dunbar (Fort Worth, Texas). Owns state records in career touchdowns (190, a remarkable 44 more than any other Texan in history), career points (1,142), career 100-yard games (46) and single-season rushing TDs (59). With 313 more rushing yards, will become only the third running back in state history to surpass 10,000 yards.
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.
Malcolm Brown: Brenham (Texas) senior defensive tackle
Brice Gunter: Stephenville (Texas) junior wide receiver
Cayleb Jones: S.F. Austin (Austin, Texas) senior wide receiver
Preston Dewey: St. Andrew's Episcopal (Austin, Texas) senior quarterback
Thomas Johnson: Skyline (Dallas, Texas) senior wide receiver