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. Maryville High (Maryville, TN) Center Jay Guillermo
ESPNU 150 rank: 88
Weight: 292 pounds
College: Clemson (verbal)
Testing results: 5.69 40-yard dash; 25.6 vertical jump
Traits: Strength, pass blocking, space blocking
ESPNU scouting report: "Guillermo is an outstanding run blocker, demonstrating the playing strength necessary to handle "0"technique defenders. Has the size and athleticism for the center position at the major level of competition. This is a smart football player who can also step in and do a very good job at the guard position offering two position depth; is very accurate handling the shotgun snap and is quick to get the ball up with the conventional snap."
2. Jackson Christian School (Jackson, TN) Wide Receiver Drae Bowles
ESPNU 150 rank: 101
Weight: 205 pounds
College: Tennessee (verbal)
Traits: Hands, speed, catch in traffic
ESPNU scouting report: "This kid is a really good football player that is savvy, strong, well built and very productive. We question the level of competition to some degree, but Bowles' ability level is not in question. He is thickly built, similar to Dez Bryant out of high school."
3. East High (Memphis, TN) Running back Brian Kimbrow
ESPNU rank: No. 21 ATH
Weight: 165 pounds
College: Vanderbilt (verbal)
Testing results: 4.44 40-yard dash; 25.5 vertical jump
Traits: Speed, playmaker
ESPNU scouting report: "Kimbrow may be small but he's an electrifying running back prospect with excellent speed and quickness. He lacks great size, has a shorter, slighter frame, but rarely gives defenders a direct shot. Has speed to burn and could be one of the faster backs in this class. Hits the hole with urgency and reaches top speed quickly, within just a few steps."
4. Cleveland High (Cleveland, TN) Quarterback Chad Voytik
ESPNU rank: No. 13 QB
Weight: 195 pounds
College: Pittsburgh (verbal)
Testing results: 4.59 40-yard dash; 30.0 vertical jump
Traits: Accuracy, delivery, athleticism, reads
ESPNU scouting report: "There is so much to like about this guy, but you just wish he were taller. He is a Kyle Parker/Drew Brees type and we would argue you will not find a quicker release on a QB in the 2012 class than the one Voytik has. The ball absolutely jumps out of his hand with pop and velocity and he can fit the ball into tight spots because of his anticipation and release that most can't."
5. Wooddale High (Memphis, TN) Running Back Jovon Robinson
ESPNU rank: No. 20 RB
Weight: 215 pounds
College: Auburn (verbal)
Traits: Elusiveness, vision
ESPNU scouting report: "This guy is the complete package at the running back position. Tall, well-built with the size and strength to carry the load, earn tough yards between the tackles with enough speed and elusiveness in the open field to make plays. Runs low for his size showing good vision to the hole and cutback skill."
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.