This year’s Mr. Football award will be handed out tomorrow by the Alabama Sports Writers Association at their annual player of the year banquet in Montgomery. Also awarded will be the back and lineman of the year for every classification. You can view the full list here.
The most prestigious award in the state when it comes to football has gone to some of the greatest players to come from this state. Last year’s winner, Tyler Johnston of Spanish Fort, hasn’t taken the field yet, but will soon for the UAB Blazers. Before him, a trio of players who won the award headed down to the Plaiuns with Kerryon Johnson (Madison Academy), Roc Thomas (Oxford), and Jeremy Johnson (Carver-Montgomery).
Other notable names to win the award include:
RB TJ Yeldon (Daphne)
WR Julio Jones (Foley)
OT Andre Smith (Huffman)
QB Jamarcus Russell (Williamson)
RB Carnell “Cadillac” Williams (Etowah)
…and many more great names that went on to great college and pro careers.
This year, there are many worthy candidates for the award. The favorite coming in to the year was Jake Bentley before he went to South Carolina and became the starting QB this season. Here are some of the names that could potentially walk away with the state’s biggest high school football honor.
DE LaBryan Ray (James Clemens) – Senior
Ray is the state’s top prospect and was recently bumped up to a 5-star DE by 247Sports and is worthy of the rating. Ray led his defense to be one of the best in the state as they made it to the second round of the 7A playoffs before losing to Hoover in a close game. Only one primary defensive player has won the award with DeMarco McNeil of Blount winning in 1998. Ray would join Kerryon Johnson as the only Mr. Football winners from Madison County.
QB Bubba Thompson (McGill-Toolen) – Senior
Thompson did a great job filling the shoes of Paris Chambers this season, leading the Yellow Jackets back to the Super 7. Despite not being able to win a second state championship in a row, Thompson still had a great season that led to him getting many football offers and him pulling his commit to Auburn to only play baseball. He is still undecided, but Tennessee seems to be a front-runner. Thompson winning the award would give the Mobile area it’s second Mr. Football winner in a row.
WR Henry Ruggs III (Lee-Montgomery) – Senior
Although Lee was forced to sit out the playoffs with an ineligible player, Ruggs has still impressed this season. Ruggs, along with Ray and Tadarian Moultry, has been elevated to a 5-star recruit, and it’s from his ability as a receiver and a returner as well. He played well enough to win the award, but it will be hard to overshadow the two players mentioned above who played in multiple playoff games.
QB Baniko Harley (Ramsay) – Senior
Harley was a do-it-all player who helped Ramsay to their first ever state title and the first state championship for the city of Birmingham in over 40 years. Harley did it through the air and on the ground and put on a show as the Rams beat Opelika in the Super 7.
RB La’Damian Webb (Beauregard) – Junior
Webb was a monster running back this season, having the second best year yardage wise of any running back in the history of Alabama high school football, just behind Jamarius Henderson of Dale County who broke the record a couple of years ago. He was one of our first-team all-state running backs for a reason. In their Super 7 match-up against Wenonah, Webb had 51 carries for 359 yards and five touchdowns. Not to mention he also had a catch and a few tackles on defense. He also ended the season with 53 total touchdowns which did break that record of 51 previously. From the standpoint of strictly dominating on the field, it’s hard not to give it to Webb, who is only a junior.
RB Terence Dunlap (Maplesville) – Senior
Dunlap was our other first-team all-state running back after he earned his third straight Super 7 MVP award, leading Maplesville to their third straight title. Dunlap had 231 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns as Maplesville beat Pickens County down in Auburn, and finished the season with 2,821 yards on the ground. Dunlap also earned offensive MVP honors in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl in Dallas a few weeks ago. He’ll go for his second 1A Back of the Year award in a row, but would love to add the title of “Mr. Football” to that as well.
Other names to look out for when it comes to winning some hardware tomorrow are:
QB Malik Cunningham (Park Crossing)
QB Kadarius Toney (Blount)
LB Thomas Johnston (Spanish Fort)
QB Taylor Hayes (Piedmont)
ATH Chadarius Townsend (Tanner)