POY Potential: Top 5 Ga. football recruits

The Gatorade Player of the Year Program honors athletes who meet comprehensive and exacting criteria in high school sports. Candidates are judged on athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders also must demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of ESPNU's recruit rankings.

That being said, the state’s top five football recruits as ranked by ESPNU are sure to enter the 2011-12 Gatorade Football Player of the Year conversation at some point. Here they are …

1. Lowndes High (Valdosta, Ga.) outside linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons

  • ESPNU 150 rank: 23

  • Height: 6-foot-4

  • Weight: 210 pounds

  • College: Undecided

  • Traits: outside run support, tackling, coverage skill

  • ESPNU scouting report: "Harvey-Clemons is a monster of an athlete, the question is where to play him? With his blend of athleticism, measurables and projected physical maturity over the next two to three years his best upside is likely on defense. He is a very tall and rangy athlete that doubles as a wide receiver on offense and a hybrid safety/OLB/pass rusher on defense."

2. Cedar Grove High (Ellenwood, Ga.) offensive tackle Brandon Greene

  • ESPNU 150 rank: 25

  • Height: 6-foot-5

  • Weight: 285 pounds

  • College: University of Alabama (verbal)

  • Traits: run blocking, pass blocking, space blocking, physicality

  • ESPNU scouting report: "Greene plays with the explosion and playing strength necessary to dominate opponents as a run blocker. Has the size and athleticism for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition. Appears to have the frame which will support additional body mass."

3. Saint Pius X Catholic High (Atlanta, Ga.) cornerback Geno Smith

  • ESPNU 150 rank: 31

  • Height: 5-foot-11

  • Weight: 170 pounds

  • College: University of Alabama (verbal)

  • Testing results: 4.60 40-yard dash; 30.0 vertical jump

  • Traits: man coverage, zone coverage, ball skills, instincts

  • ESPNU scouting report: "Smith is a play-making cover corner and makes quarterbacks pay who challenge him. Displays excellent production around the football. Tall with a long wingspan and body that allows him to match up with bigger receivers out on the perimeter."

4. Jenkins County High (Millen, Ga.) defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor

  • ESPNU 150 rank: 44

  • Height: 6-foot-4

  • Weight: 315 pounds

  • College: University of Georgia (verbal)

  • Traits: run defense, disruptiveness, strength

  • ESPNU scouting report: "Taylor is an interesting kid. He is a big boy who is a bit raw, but he displays a promising future though. This is a kid who looks on film to simply be a big dude. He looks to carry his weight well and just looks like a thickly built mass of humanity."

5. Buford High (Buford, Ga.) outside linebacker Dillon Lee

  • ESPNU 150 rank: 54

  • Height: 6-foot-4

  • Weight: 220 pounds

  • College: University of Alabama (verbal)

  • Traits: diagnosing skills, outside run support, tackling, coverage skill

  • ESPNU scouting report: "Lee is a versatile prospect who couples good ability with a blue collar style of play. He is a legitimate prospect on both sides of the ball. On offense he could be looked at as a tight end and on defense he could play linebacker or potentially defensive end."

A dedicated POY team at ESPNHS manages the Gatorade Player of the Year program selection process and oversees all research, reporting, comparative analysis and criteria-compliance on the award program’s behalf.