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. Masuk High (Monroe, Conn.) quarterback and returning Gatorade Connecticut Football Player of the Year Casey Cochran
Weight: 214 pounds
College: Connecticut (verbal)
Traits: Accuracy, arm strength, reads
ESPNU scouting report: "This guy is a very productive, competent passer that possesses a live arm, good feet and above average athleticism. He reminds us of Rutgers QB Chas Dodd both in style and stature. The downside with Cochran is that he lacks ideal height, but does possess a significant amount of bulk."
2. Cheshire Academy (Cheshire, Conn.) athlete Malik Golden
Weight: 185 pounds
College: Penn State (verbal)
Traits: Versatility, ball skills
ESPNU scouting report: "Golden is a versatile athlete who can help move the chains in a lot of ways on offense. May get a look at safety or corner as well; he possesses good range, length and breaks well on the ball. Overall he has good size for a college skill prospect; tall and slender with the room to fill out."
3. Bunnell High (Stratford, Conn.) wide receiver Jawad Chisholm
Weight: 168 pounds
Testing results: 5.10 40-yard dash; 30.3 vertical jump
ESPNU scouting report: "Chisholm is a well-rounded receiver; possesses the ability to be a deep threat as well as a productive over the middle target at the high school level. Can deliver as a safety as well, showing an aggressive, ball-hawk style of play. Is undersized but has a good frame to add weight."
4. Canterbury School (New Milford, Conn.) defensive tackle Bunta Biyana
Weight: 280 pounds
ESPNU scouting report: "Biyana is a raw prospect who shows up-side as he is playing football for the first time. Displays good size but could benefit from adding more muscular bulk and strength. Flashes adequate quickness, getting up-field for a player with his size."
5. Cromwell High (Conn.) wide receiver Brett Director
Weight: 166 pounds
Testing results: 4.99 40-yard dash; 24.0 vertical jump
ESPNU scouting report: "Director is a shifty, quick-footed possession receiver who puts himself in good position to make plays even though he is limited in stature. Can deliver both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, particularly as a slot receiver or defensive corner."
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.