High-SchoolTexas: Tennessee

Gray headlines ESPNHS Texas midseason football awards

October, 5, 2011
Before the season starts, everybody's an expert, making predictions here and there about which teams will make noise in the rankings and which players will dominate on the gridiron. But with the midway point of the Texas football season upon us, now it's time to see who has really lived up to their billing, along with a few surprises.

And what better way to commemorate this time than with awards? So I now present to you the ESPNHS Texas midseason football awards (Feel free to offer your thoughts because, like I said, everybody has an opinion):

Player of the Year: Johnathan Gray, Aledo RB
Were you expecting anyone else? There's really not much needed to justify Gray's name here except:
-93 carries, 1,384 yards (that's 14.88 yards per carry) 24 touchdowns.
-He's rushed for at least 209 yards and four touchdowns in all five of Aledo's games.
-He's the new state career leader in total points (932 and counting) and touchdowns (160 and counting), and he's moving up the national lists for total yards and touchdowns.

Offensive MVP: Alec Morris, Allen QB
This spring, Morris had zero college offers. Now, with Allen sitting as the nation's No. 3 team at 5-0, the senior has a commitment to BCS power Alabama under his belt and plenty of national attention (This Thursday, the Eagles play Plano East on ESPN2). Morris has thrown for 1,387 yards, 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions, completed more than 61 percent of his passes and also rushed for two scores. Mind you, most of this production came as standout RB Jonathan Williams missed most of the first four games with a back injury. Perhaps his biggest performance came on the road in a tough Longview environment, where he threw for 368 yards and five scores in a 42-23 win.

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Stock is rising for McNeil, Richmond

August, 24, 2011
Each week, we'll take a deeper look into our All-State football team to see whose stock is rising and falling based on recent performance and news. I know some of you are wondering, how can you have a stock watch when football hasn't officially started? Easy. Every football fan knows that the season never truly ends.

UP — LaDarrell McNeil, DB, Wilmer Hutchins
Last week, McNeil broke several schools' hearts while making Tennessee fans very happy with his commitment to the Vols. Now, with a college pledge under his belt, McNeil can focus on what should be another big year. Last fall, the senior racked up 132 tackles and three interceptions for now-closed A. Maceo Smith High. McNeil's presence at the reopened Wilmer Hutchins should make the Eagles' return to prep football a good one.

DOWN — Brian Nance, LB, Euless Trinity
Nance had ACL surgery this past summer, placing his availability for the start of the season in jeopardy. The latest word out of Trinity is that the talented linebacker will be ready for Friday's opener against Lee, but just how healthy Nance will be remains to be seen. The skills to succeed are definitely there, what with Nance posting 121 tackles (10 for loss) and three sacks for the Trojans last year.

UP — Jordan Richmond, LB, Denton Ryan
The more Mario Edwards Jr.'s stock continues to rise, so too will Richmond's. Edwards Jr., the reigning Class 4A Defensive Player of the Year and nation's top recruit in the ESPNU 150, is bound to draw his share of double teams on the defensive line, which should open the way for Richmond to excel. The senior linebacker took advantage last year, recording 120 tackles (20 for loss) for a solid Raiders defensive unit.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.