High-SchoolPlayer-of-the-Year: Hueytown

Alabama Football POY: Jameis Winston

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
5:50
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A dedicated ESPNHS POY team managed the Gatorade State Football Player of the Year selection process, resulting in this winner based on the awards program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character. For his 50 fellow Gatorade State Football Player of the Year winners, click here.

National POY Watch: Jameis Winston
Tom Hauck/ESPNHSJameis Winston earned co-MVP honors at this summer's Elite 11 quarterback camp.
THE WINNER: Jameis Winston

THE BASICS: Anatomy of a POY

School: Hueytown (Ala.)
Grade: Senior
Position: Quarterback
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 205 pounds

THE PILLARS: Gatorade criteria

Athletic achievement: Winston passed for 2,424 yards and 28 touchdowns, completing 163-of-234 attempts while throwing two interceptions this past season, leading the Golden Gophers (13-1) to the Class 5A state semifinals. Winston also rushed for 1,063 yards and 15 touchdowns on 144 carries. The co-MVP of the Elite 11 quarterback camp, he is a 2012 Under Armour All-American Game selection and the No. 11 rated recruit in the Class of 2012 by ESPNU.

Academic excellence: Winston has maintained an A average in the classroom.

Exemplary character: A math tutor at Hueytown, Winston has volunteered locally as a motivational speaker, a youth baseball coach and as part of multiple community service initiatives in association with his church youth group.

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National POY Watch: Football contenders

November, 25, 2011
11/25/11
8:00
AM ET
Everybody knows a guy’s gotta win his own state first before he gets a shot at being Gatorade National Football Player of the Year. That said, two elite performers to this point in the season are among those making a bid to be honored as the best of the best once the calendar turns to December. The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. There’s plenty more work to be done, but here are two top candidates who remain in contention to win their own state and could someday call themselves a National POY.

Eye on POY: Davonte Neal
Tom Hauck/ESPNHSChaparral's Davonte Neal (left) and Connor Brewer are both Gatorade State and National Football Player of the Year contenders.
Davonte Neal
SEnior wide receiver/defensive back/kick returner, Chaparral (Paradise Valley, Ariz.)

2011 Team record: 13-1 (Division II)
2011 Team standing: Division II state final vs. Cienega on Saturday

2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 91-1097 (12.1)-14
2011 Catches-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 53-1006 (19.0)-13

2011 Punt returns (AVG.)-TDs: 8 (26.6)-2
2011 Kickoff returns (AVG.)-TDs: 10 (39.4)-3

Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: Undecided

How he’s played himself into the National POY conversation: Including kickoff and punt return yards, produced 2,591 total yards through 13 games, averaging 17.3 yards per touch. Totaled 33 touchdowns on 150 touches, an average of one score every 4.55 touches. In addition to running for a score and returning a punt for a score, caught 10 passes for 234 yards and two TDs in the Firebirds’ 62-0 win over Gila Ridge in the opening round of the Division II playoffs. 2010-11 Gatorade Arizona Football Player of the Year. 2012 U.S. Army All-American Game selection. 2012 Under Armour All-American Game selection. 2010 Arizona Republic State Player of the Year. No. 29 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU.

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Eye on POY: Alabama football

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
9:46
AM ET
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.

Jameis Winston
ESPNHSJameis Winston is the top-rated senior recruit in Alabama.
Jameis Winston
Senior quarterback/punter, Hueytown (Ala.)

2011 Team record: 11-0 (Class 5A)
2011 Team standing: Class 5A second round vs. Eufaula on Friday

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 133-190 (70.0)-1,971
2011 TDs-INTs: 23-2
2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 93-818 (8.8)-12

2011 Punts-AVG.: 15-37.7

Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Florida State University (verbal)

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: 2011 ESPNHS Elite 11 co-MVP. 2011 Under Armour All-American Game selection. 2011 Rawlings All-American Game selection. Career total of 8,980 yards of offense and 94 touchdowns.

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National POY Watch: Football contenders

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
8:54
AM ET
Everybody knows a guy’s gotta win his own state first before he gets a shot at being Gatorade National Football Player of the Year. That said, two elite performers to this point in the season are among those making a bid to be honored as the best of the best once the calendar turns to December. The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. There’s plenty more work to be done, but here are two top candidates who remain in contention to win their own state and could someday call themselves a National POY.

Johnathan Gray
Travis Brown/ESPNHSJohnathan Gray led Aledo High (Texas) to the Class 4A Division II state title as a sophomore.
Johnathan Gray
Senior running back, Aledo (Texas)

2011 Team record: 9-2 (Class 4A, Division II)
2011 Team standing: Class 4A, Div. II area round vs. Friday's Mansfield Summit/Waco winner on Nov. 17

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 National POY conversation: Ranks No. 2 on national prep career points and touchdowns lists. Owns state records for TDs in a season (59) and career. 2010-11 Gatorade Texas Football Player of the Year. No. 8 national recruit in Class of 2012 as ranked by ESPNU. 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 First Team All-State selection. 2009 and 2010 Class 4A Division II championship game MVP. 2009 and 2010 Class 4A Division II state champion.

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National POY Watch: Football contenders

November, 4, 2011
11/04/11
8:49
AM ET
Everybody knows a guy’s gotta win his own state first before he gets a shot at being Gatorade National Football Player of the Year. That said, two elite performers to this point in the season are among those making a bid to be honored as the best of the best once the calendar turns to December. The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. There’s plenty more work to be done, but here are two top candidates who remain in contention to win their own state and could someday call themselves a National POY.

Noah Spence
file photo/ESPNHSNoah Spence is Pennsylvania's No. 1 senior recruit
Noah Spence
Senior defensive end/tight end, Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.)

2011 Team record: 7-2
2011 Team standing: Class AAA district tournament scheduled to begin on Nov. 11

2011 Tackles: 50
2011 Sacks: 7

2011 Catches-YDs (avg.)-TDs: 3-30 (10.0)-1

2011 Team carries-YDs (avg.): 288-1,467 (5.1)
2011 Team passes-YDs (avg.): 208-1,887 (9.1)

Academics: B-plus average
Collegiate destination: Undecided

Additional considerations: Anchors a defense that allows just 11.0 points per game and an offense that scores 30.0 points per game. No. 4 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as ranked by ESPNU. 2012 Under Armour All-America Game selection. 2011 Class AAA First Team All-State selection as named by the Pennsylvania Sportswriters. Led the Crusaders (13-3) to the 2010 Class AAA state championship game. Recorded 101 tackles, 34 tackles for losses, 22 sacks, nine forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries as a junior.

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POY Potential: Top 5 Ala. football recruits

September, 20, 2011
9/20/11
8:34
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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 …

Chris Casher
ESPNHSChris Casher is Alabama's No. 1 senior recruit
1. Davidson High (Mobile, Ala.) defensive end Chris Casher

  • ESPNU 150 rank: 10
  • Height: 6-foot-3
  • Weight: 236 pounds
  • College: Florida State (verbal)
  • Traits: Run defense, pass rushing, disruptiveness, pursuit
  • ESPNU scouting report: "There is plenty to like about Casher. This athlete fills a few different roles for his high school team and could be recruited to play on either side of the ball in college. He will likely land at either tight end or defensive end."

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