Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana and quarterback coaching guru Steve Clarkson announced the seven finalists they will choose from for the first annual Joe Montana Quarterback of the Year Award given by the DeBartolo Sports University.
A watch list of 50 quarterbacks was whittled to 21, then 14 and finally seven national finalists.
"Joe is the greatest quarterback to ever play in the NFL, and we couldn't think of a more prestigious award for the country's best high school quarterback," said Clarkson. "There's great young talent ready to be discovered on a national level, and we feel that they should be recognized and acknowledged."
They finalists are:
• E.J. Manuel (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside), ranked No. 11 in the ESPN 150. The Florida State commit and Under Armour Game All-American threw for more than 5,800 yards in his career.
• Dayne Crist (Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame), ranked No. 30 in the ESPN 150. The Notre Dame commit threw for 16 TDs and 2,178 yards and ran for 4 TDs and 454 yards this season.
• Landry Jones (Artesia, N.M.), ranked No. 34 in the ESPN 150. The Oklahoma commit and Under Armour Game All-American was named New Mexico's 4A Player of the Year. He threw for 45 TDs and more than 3,400 yards this season.
• Braden Hanson (Charlotte, N.C./Latin), ranked No. 118 in the ESPN 150. The North Carolina commit and Under Armour Game All-American led his team to a state title with four TDs in the championship game. He threw for 39 TDs this year.
• John Wienke (Tuscola, Ill.), ranked as one of ESPN's top 15 Class of 2008 quarterbacks. The Iowa commit threw for 33 TDs and more than 3,200 yards this season.
• Matt Scott (Corona, Calif./Centennial), ranked as one of ESPN's top 25 Class of 2008 quarterbacks. The Arizona commit led Centennial to the CIF Bowl this season while throwing for 19 TDs and rushing for 13 more.
• Class of 2009 QB Matt Barkley (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei). The Gatorade National High School Player of the Year, Barkley threw for 35 TDs and more than 3,500 yards in his junior season.
The award will be announced on January 1, 2008 during the first half of the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.