High-SchoolPlayer-of-the-Year: Neal Burcham

Eye on POY: Arkansas football

November, 14, 2011
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.

Neal Burcham
File photo/ESPNHSGreenbrier quarterback Neal Burcham put up big numbers before tearing his ACL in his team's regular season finale.
Neal Burcham
Senior Quarterback, Greenbrier (Greenbrier, Ark.)

2011 Team record: 9-2
2011 Team standing: Class 5A state quarterfinal vs. Batesville on Nov. 18

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 232-328 (70.7)-3,434
2011 TDs-INTs: 42-10

Academics: B-plus average
Collegiate destination: Southern Methodist University (verbal)

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Co-MVP of ESPNHS Elite 11 Quarterback Camp. Tied state record with 8 touchdown passes in one game. State semifinal appearance in 2010. 107 career TD passes. 2010 All-State selection.

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POY Potential: Top 5 Ark. football recruits

October, 3, 2011
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 …

Neal Burcham
File photo/ESPNHSNeal Burcham is Arkansas' No. 1 football recruit
1. Greenbrier High (Greenbrier, AR) Quarterback Neal Burcham

  • ESPNU rank: No. 20 QB
  • Height: 6-foot-2
  • Weight: 185 pounds
  • College: Undecided
  • Traits: Accuracy, delivery, reads
  • ESPNU scouting report: "This kid has a chance to really blossom at the next level. Burcham is long and lanky, but has the frame and physical tools to become a very crisp, polished passer with enough athleticism to buy time and get out of trouble. What stands out about him is his release and savvy feel for the game. Has the quick, smooth delivery to consistently beat the pass rush with his arm."

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