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August 29, 2012
The state of Alabama awards the top player for his high school performance based on a single season and not for the top college prospect. The ASWA will vote at the end of the 2012 season for who displayed the top overall performance.
T.J. Yeldon, running back from Daphne, won the award in 2011. Jamal Golden, athlete from Wetumpka, was the winner in 2010 with his staggering stats as a senior.
AlabamaVarsity.com polled several writers and broadcasters across the state to see their prediction for Mr. Football.
Josh Bean, Press-Register: ArDarius Stewart, athlete, Fultondale High School
Nick Birdsong, al.com: Jeremy Johnson, quarterback, Carver High School in Montgomery
Andrew Bone, TideSports.com/Rivals.com: ArDarius Stewart, athlete, Fultondale High School
Patrick Claybon, CBS42 Bham: Jeremy Johnson, quarterback, Carver High School
Mike Herndon, Press-Register: Top five candidates (No order)-Jason Smith, Bo Scarbrough, ArDarius Stewart, Jeremy Johnson, Reuben Foster
Justin Hokanson, AuburnSports.com: Reuben Foster, linebacker, Auburn High School, or Jeremy Johnson, quarterback, Carver High School
Jeff Sentell, Birmingham News: ArDarius Stewart, athlete, Fultondale High School
Aaron Suttles, TideSports.com: Reuben Foster, Auburn High School, linebacker
1. ArDarius Stewart
Stewart accounted for 51 touchdowns in 2011. He was awarded the Class 2A Back of the Year and a finalist for Mr. Football. Stewart is bigger, stronger and faster than he was a year ago, and teams will give their full attention to him this season. The Alabama commitment will have a great chance to take home Mr. Football if he can have the same type of season and help Fultondale to a deep run in the play-offs or even a championship.
2. Reuben Foster
Foster is the nation's No. 2 overall college prospect. This fall is his first season playing football at Auburn High School and can make a major impact for the Tigers. There is no denying his ability on the field. He registered 185 tackles and 18 sacks last fall at Troup County High School in Ga. That same type of production for the Class 6A program will probably lock-down the award. The Auburn commitment is rated the state's No. 1 college prospect.
3. Jeremy Johnson
Johnson is the reason expectations are very high for Carver this fall. The team is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball especially at quarterback. The 6-foot-6, 218-pound Auburn commitment passed for 2,700 yards and 26 touchdowns last fall. He also averaged more than 20 points in basketball. His continued development in the past few months should pay dividends.
Darkhorse: Jordan Huff
Huff played in only eight games as a junior after suffering a knee injury which required surgery. He has rushed for more than 4,000 yards in his career. Huff returns this fall 100-percent and with a chip on his shoulder. He was projected as one of the top overall players in the state prior to his injury.
Quotable: "If it's voted on like the Heisman, given to the best player, it should be Reuben Foster," said one reporter. "If stats are the main factor, ArDarius Stewart has a great shot. A darkhorse is Jeremy Johnson. He's got the stature and ability for a big year as the state's top pure quarterback."
This is a year where there isn't a clear-cut favorite for the Mr. Football award. It's a lot like the Heisman Trophy. Always the top-tier candidates, the second-tier and the darkhorses. Probably not very many who predicted the last three Heisman Trophy winners at the beginning of the season with Robert Griffin, III (2011), Cam Newton (2010) and Mark Ingram (2009).
The award is up for grabs every year. It was given to who many considered the state's best player last year in Yeldon. He was considered a major contender for the award last pre-season.
Foster is ranked the state's top prospect. Stewart had an unbelievable junior campaign, and Johnson has enough talent around him to make a deep run in the state playoffs. Others mentioned like Jason Smith at McGill-Toolen and Bo Scabrough, 2014 running back from Northrige, who could see their name called at season's end.
It's time to let the talking and pre-season hype go to work on the field.