High-SchoolPlayer-of-the-Year: National POY Watch

National POY Watch: Volleyball contenders

December, 9, 2011
12/09/11
6:00
AM ET
Everybody knows a girl’s gotta win her own state first before she gets a shot at being Gatorade National Volleyball 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 mid-December rolls around. 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 court. 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.

National POY Watch: Inky Ajanaku
PrepVolleyball.comInky Ajanaku recorded a .634 kill percentage in leading Bishop Kelley (Tulsa, Okla.) to the Class 6A state title.
Inky Ajanaku
Senior middle blocker, Bishop Kelley (Tulsa, Okla.)

2011 Team record: 32-3 (Class 6A)
2011 Team standing: Class 6A state champions; No. 49 on ESPNHS FAB 50

2011 Kills: 537
2011 Blocks: 127
2011 Digs: 29
2011 Aces: 5

Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Stanford University

How she’s played herself into the National POY conversation: Collected a match-high 19 kills on 32 swings (.594 kill percentage) in the state title-clinching three-set sweep against Edmond North (Edmond, Okla.). Owned a .525 hitting percentage and .634 kill percentage. Averaged 4.9 kills and 1.2 blocks per set. No. 2 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by PrepVolleyball.com. 2011 Under Armour First Team All-American as named by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. 2010 and 2011 Class 6A state tournament Most Valuable Player. 2010 All-Metro Volleyball Player of the Year as named by the Tulsa World.

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National POY Watch: Football contenders

December, 2, 2011
12/02/11
10:15
AM ET
Now that the Gatorade State Football Players of the Year have been announced, the focus turns to Gatorade National Football Player of the Year. These two elite performers are among the 51 winners making a bid to be honored as the best of the best. 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 could someday call themselves a National POY.

Gatorade POY: Patton Robinette
Tom Hauck/ESPNHSPatton Robinette has won 28 consecutive games over the past two seasons.
Patton Robinette
Senior quarterback, Maryville (Tenn.)

2011 Team record: 14-0 (Class 6A)
2011 Team standing: Class 6A state final vs. Whitehaven (Memphis, Tenn.) on Dec. 3; No. 17 on ESPNHS FAB 50

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 108-150 (72.0)-1,509
2011 TDs-INTs: 21-7
2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 82-860 (10.5)-16

Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: University of North Carolina (verbal)

How he’s played himself into the National POY conversation: In a 42-14 Class 6A state semifinal win over Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Robinette completed 8-of-12 passes for 57 yards and two touchdowns in addition to rushing for 94 yards and a TD on 12 carries. Averages 10.1 yards per attempt in leading an offense that scores 38.6 points per game. Owns a 193.4 NCAA Pass Efficiency Rating. No. 32 ranked QB in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2011 Tennessee Mr. Football finalist. 2011 Elite 11 quarterback camp participant. 2010 All-State selection. 2010 Dream Team selection as named by the Tennessean.

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National POY Watch: Volleyball contenders

December, 2, 2011
12/02/11
8:46
AM ET
Everybody knows a girl’s gotta win her own state first before she gets a shot at being Gatorade National Volleyball 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 mid-December rolls around. 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 court. 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.

National POY Watch: Jordan Burgess
Paul Warner/ESPNHSJordan Burgess is the returning Gatorade Florida Volleyball Player of the Year.
Jordan Burgess
Senior outside hitter, Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Fla.)

2011 Team record: 30-2 (Class 4A)
2011 Team standing: Class 4A state champions; No. 5 on ESPNHS FAB 50

2011 Kills: 553
2011 Digs: 366
2011 Aces: 48
2011 Assists: 38
2011 Blocks: 32

Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Stanford University

How she’s played herself into the National POY conversation: Recorded 15 kills, 13 digs and four blocks in the 3-1 Class 4A state championship victory against Bishop Moore (Orlando, Fla.). Produced a .526 kill percentage and .457 hitting percentage. Averaged 5.9 kills and 3.9 digs per set. 2010-11 Gatorade Florida Volleyball Player of the Year. No. 3 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by PrepVolleyball.com. 2011 U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team member. 2011 Under Armour First Team All-America selection. 2010 ESPNHS National Junior of the Year. 2009 and 2010 Class 3A state champion.

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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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National POY Watch: Football contenders

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
9:16
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.

Gunner Kiel
file photo/ESPNHSGunner Kiel is Indiana's No. 1 senior recruit
Gunner Kiel
Senior quarterback, Columbus East (Columbus, Ind.)

2011 Team record: 12-1
2011 Team standing: Class 4A state semifinal vs. Indianapolis Cathedral on Friday

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 114-208 (54.8)-2,332
2011 TDs-INTs: 28-3
2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 102-486 (4.8)-11

Academics: A-minus average
Collegiate destination: Undecided

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Playing only the first half in a 49-0 victory against Evansville Central in the Class 4A state quarterfinals, completed 6-of-10 passing attempts for 168 yards and three touchdowns in addition to rushing for 91 yards on 12 carries. Averages 11.2 yards per attempt. Owns a 190.52 NCAA Pass Efficiency Rating. 2012 U.S. Army All-American Game selection. No. 20 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2011 First Team All-State preseason selection as named by ESPNHS. As a junior in 2010, threw for 2,645 yards and 36 touchdowns against just six interceptions. 2010 Honorable Mention All-State selection as named by the Associated Press.

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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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