When quarterbacks produce at the rate Cadillac’s Jalen Brooks and Lake City’s Drew Marion did in their junior year, you’re going to get notice even when doing it in Northern Michigan. MAC schools like Brooks as an athlete at 6-4, 185, a possible Harrison Smith-type at the next level; while CMU and Ball State love how Marion can not just toss it but run and create. Playmakers you say? Last fall they accounted for 90 TDs between them.
No Michigan high school had a tougher pair of tackles than Cadillac’s Jack Ford and Riley Norman. That size and strength would’ve been for naught had they not had someone to block for, an opportunity filled ably by the smooth-striding Brooks. In the regular season he ran for 1,700 yards and 27 TDs (with only one fumble), while throwing for 712 yards and four TDs for a Cadillac team that made its fourth-straight playoff appearance (second with Brooks at QB), and starting at DB. He twice set the Big North Conference single-game record with a pair of six TD efforts.
Twenty minutes East in Lake City, Marion, a 6-2, 190 junior, was tearing up the Highland Conference. He led Lake City to a 10-2 mark, getting knocked out of the D7 playoffs by eventual state champion Ishpeming. Marion earned all-state accolades in a season which saw him throw for 2,300 yards and 27 TDs and run for 1,300 and 30 TDs.
Brooks and Marion will be among those athletes competing at the Lake Michigan Football Report’s combine Sunday, March 17 at the Woodland Sportsplex in Grand Rapids. Though both are scholarship locks, but it’s still a matter of solidifying what level and will be just two of the all-state caliber athletes competing. The combine provides a step to further their resumes and exposure level, and possibly expanding their college options.
The following seniors last year attended either the Lake Michigan Football Report’s Unsigned Senior Camp in Grand Rapids, or Combine in Traverse City:
- Ron Branch 5-9 180 DB Stevenville-Lakeshore Northwood
- Jake Brown 6-0 200 QB Comstock Park Michigan Tech
- Wyatt Derrer 5-9 180 RB Mancelona Siena Heights
- Derrick Diver 6-3 225 LB Traverse City West Michigan Tech
- Bobby Drew 6-4 280 DL Saugatuck Wayne State
- Tristan Eickenroth 6-1 210 ATH Kingsley Ferris State
- Amilio Flores 6-4 265 DL Fruitport Northwood
- Tyler Gildersleeve 6-6 275 OL Traverse City Central Michigan Tech
- Landon Grove 6-2 215 QB Gladwin Ferris State
- Matthew Hall 6-1 210 LB Grand Rapids Christian Hillsdale
- Colt Harrington 6-2 250 DL Greenville Northwood
- Landon Kresnak 6-3 235 DL Mona Shores Saginaw Valley State
- Greg Krusniak 6-7 235 TE Greenville Ferris State
- Trevor Lutke 6-3 245 OL McBain Northwood
- Blake Mazur 6-2 255 DL Comstock Park Wayne State
- Seth McIntosh 5-9 195 RB Grand Rapids Christian Siena Heights
- Lincoln Mulder 6-2 220 ATH Holland Christian Ferris State
- Chance Murphy 6-2 290 DL Traverse City West Siena Heights
- Nathan Pupel 6-0 205 LB Traverse City Central Siena Heights
- Billy Schaefer 6-3 235 OL Grand Rapids West Catholic Elmhurst
- TJ Schepperly 5-9 175 ATH Traverse Central Northwood
- Jaylen Schoenfield 6-1 175 DB Swartz Creek Grand Valley State
- Curtis Smith 5-10 175 WR/DB Detroit U-D Jesuit Siena Heights
- Reed Stormzand 6-2 215 ATH Lowell Siena Heights
- Dalton Sulz 6-2 240 OL Mancelona Albion
- Trevor Sweeney 5-9 170 RB Mattawan Western Michigan
- Andrew Trautman 6-2 215 LB Elk Rapids Dayton
- Trevor VanTubbergen 6-3 180 QB West Ottawa Wayne State
- Jared Vuksan 6-1 220 DL Gladstone Northern Michigan
- Andon Ware 6-1 175 ATH Baldwin Notre Dame (Ohio)
A school located in Midtown Detroit obviously hits up home first on the recruiting trail. But Wayne State’s 2011 national runner-up team gives coach Paul Winters’ program the bona fides to pull from anywhere in the state. It is quality over quantity for the Warriors in the Lake Michigan area for 2013, pulling two top 25 players overall, linemen Bobby Drew and Blake Mazur, and the No. 2 QB, Trevor VanTubbergen.
Drew and Mazur were the two best linemen at our December camp. While Mazur’s path to signing day included an all-state senior season for Comstock Park, Drew fell off the recruiting radar after moving to Saugatuck, but not playing. His junior year he was a standout on the best team in Holland history, and a MAC recruit at least. Drew was surprisingly sharp at our Uncommitted Seniors Camp, given his time off. He’s 6-4, 250 with moves and a motor.
“Bobby has the prototypical size for the defensive tackle position,” Winters said at Wayne State’s Signing Day press conference. “He also has really good movement and athleticism for someone his size. Bobby will really improve with college coaching and a college strength and conditioning program. His potential is unlimited.”
Mazur, 6-2, 260, was a two-way stalwart on some terrific CP teams. He’s fast off the line, light on his feet and knows when to pick his battles. He projects on the interior D Line for the Warriors.
“Blake shows a knack for anticipating the throw and timing his jump to block passes,” Winters said. “He uses his hands well to disengage from blockers and uses excellent speed to run down the ball carrier. Blake is very athletic, intelligent and was a leader of his team.”
VanTubbergen had a breakthrough senior season, thanks to consistency and confidence, flourishing in offense that was prolific by O-K Red standards. He threw for 2,071 yards and 27 TDs to just four pikcs. He’s got nice physical tools, 6-3, 180 with a deep ball. His brother Tyler VanTubbergen is Western Michigan’s starting QB.
“Trevor has all the requisite skills to run our offense,” Winters said. “He has a strong arm and a quick release. Trevor has the ability to run the ball and he does everything effortlessly. Trevor has played against some of the best teams in the state of Michigan with great success. He has an outstanding future.”
If you’re a lineman with large aspirations, there aren’t many better destinations in Midwest college football than Central Michigan. That’s where Joe Staley went as a tight end on his path to becoming the top NFL tackle. CMU’s Eric Fisher is projected to be the first tackle off the board in this spring’s NFL Draft. It’s those standards like that which Jack Ford, a 6-6, 280 Cadillac lineman, will look. You have to like what he’s starting out with. Ford is one of five linemen in the Chippewas’ recruiting class.
“You watch this guy’s video, he’s running, he bends his knees, he changes direction, he climbs to the second level,” CMU coach Dan Enos said at their signing day press conference. “He’ll be 300 pounds by the time he walks in here. He committed to us this summer. He got recruited by a lot of different people, especially after they saw him in person, how flexible he was, how athletic he was.”
Corey Willis committed to CMU after his junior season, in which he was the state’s No. 2 rusher and coincided with the best season in Holland history. There would be no senior year after a knee injury in track (he’s a school-record long jumper). Willis was a high school QB who will have to find a spot in college. And while he never had blazing speed even before the injury, more quick than fast, Willis will make his mark as a playmaker.
Gary Jones doesn’t have a given college position either, he looked best at a wingback for Allegan, but if he finds one, look out. At 6-2, 200 he has legit sprinter’s speed. As a senior he scored TDs as a receiver, runner, kick returner and interceptor (one of those a pick-six of 103 yards).
“We got him late, but we knew him all along,” Enos said. “He has great size for a skill guy, and is very, very explosive. If you’re recruited by major colleges to run the 100 and 200 meters, you can run.”
While he might have had more opportunities with other teams, it’s safe to bet that Grand Rapids Christian’s 6-5, 230 tight end Zach Crouch wouldn’t trade his state championship rings for big stats. He showed some after-the-catch speed when he did get chances, and also moonlighted on the D Line.
“He’s a prototypical tight end,” Enos said. “He’s what we’re looking for — 6-5 flat-footed and he’s going to be 250, 255 pouinds before he leaves here. He’s tough, he’s got ball skills, he can run.”
Grand Valley State’s recruiting formula looks as successful as ever with this 2013 class, getting top talent from the backyard of the Lake Michigan area, while cashing in on its brand to bring in high-end players not just from throughout Michigan, but Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
“Our name recognition and the success of our football program enables our coaching staff to get in on some players that are being recruited at the Division I level,” Lakers head coach Matt Mitchell said in announcing the class. “It is important for us to continue to battle those Division I schools for those players if we want to continue to build our program.”
Here’s who Grand Valley signed from the Lake Michigan area, with the player’s ranking from our final top 100:
- 3. Heath Hoogerhyde 6-2 215 ATH Caledonia
- 30. Joel Schipper 5-11 180 K Grand Rapids Christian
- 31. Collin Schlosser 6-0 215 LB Forest Hills Central
- 46. Keane Belcher 6-2 230 DL Grand Rapids Catholic Central
- 56. Nick Keizer 6-5 220 TE Portage Northern
- 66. Josh Dentler 6-6 265 OL Portage Northern
- 69. Kyle Short 6-2 185 QB Rockford
Obviously per his ranking Heath Hoogerhyde is a favorite around here, a true football player who could fit any system, any era. He came out of virtually nowhere to become a consensus all-stater as a senior. Hoogerhyde projects positively to any number of positions, but will likely end up at linebacker. He was the best player on the field in Caledonia’s state semifinal loss to Muskegon, a game Mitchell attended.
“Caledonia was very good this year, and Heath was the driving force on the defensive side of the ball,” Mitchell said. “He played some defensive back, he layed some linebacker, we’ll figure out where he fits in when he gets here. He’s just a very good fooball player and the type of person we’re looking for on the defensive side, a physical football player that’s going to be a multi-sport person for us.”
Hoogerhyde plans to also play baseball for GVSU, as does the next highest-ranked player, kicker Joel Schipper. Everyone saw his leg and poise in the D3 state finals, where Schipper kicked field goals to tie and then win the state championship.
Grand Valley adds an interior D lineman with a good motor in GR Catholic Central’s Keane Belcher, and one of the Lake Michigan area’s most prolific tacklers, Forest Hills Central’s Collin Schlosser.
“Collin’s a prototypical inside linebacker,” Mitchell said. “He’s very intelligent, the type of kid you could see eventually leading our defense.”
He sees another leader on the offensive side, in Rockford QB Kyle Short. He’s one of three QBs in the Lakers’ class, including Grand Blanc’s 6-5, 200 all-stater Bart Williams.
“Kyle brings so many intangibles that you’re not going to see on a highlight tape,” Mitchell said. “We really love his leadership and his approach to things.”
GVSU turned to Portage Northern for two big prospects, 6-6, 265 lineman Josh Dentler and 6-5, 220 tight end Nick Keizer.
“The thing you’ll see about (Keizer) is his size and his versatility,” Mitchell said. “Nick can be off the ball and blocking at an H-back or tight end, can dominate guys in the run game, while at the same time stretching the field vertically.”
Everyone likes a winner. And recruits — star players from winning programs across the state — think that winning is what Tony Anesse will do at Ferris State after his first season. The Bulldogs had a huge presence in The Lake’s recruiting area, while also adding significant Eastside and juco talent. Ferris also offered recruits that magic pill — playing time.
“If you’re good enough to play, you’ll play right now,” Anesse said at the press conference announcing the Bulldogs’ class.
Ferris target the Lake Michigan area, and prospered. Here are Ferris State’s local recruits, with overall final top 100 ranking:
- 2. Ryheem Stokes 5-10 170 ATH Grand Rapids Catholic Central
- 4. Brandon Moore 6-4 190 WR Montague
- 17. KC Zenner 6-0 190 DB Rockford
- 20. Jake Daugherty 6-3 275 OL/DL Big Rapids
- 29. Ato Condole 6-1 180 WR/DB Holland West Ottawa
- 32. Greg Krusniak 6-7 235 TE Greenville
- 36. Tristan Eickenroth 6-1 210 ATH Kingsley
- 43. Jahaan Brown 6-0 180 RB East Grand Rapids
- 52. David Mann 6-6 255 OL Kalamazoo Loy-Norix
- 59. Chris Bradford 5-8 165 DB Muskegon Mona Shores
- 63. Alex Vandevusse 6-1 185 QB Grand Rapids Christian
- 81. Lincoln Mulder 6-2 220 TE/DL Holland Christian
The two outliers are Ryheem Stokes and Brandon Moore. Both are borderline Big 10 prospects, who through various circumstances landed in D2. Stokes was the best player whenever he was on the field, be it as a DB, receiver, running back. He was at least a couple media outlets’ West Michigan player of the year — and yes, Drake Harris was in their coverage area. Stokes is everything Ferris lacked last year in the defensive backfield — a legit playmaker.
“He’s a Division I talent,” Annese said. “This is one outstanding athlete.”
So is Moore, would could’ve been a scholarship basketball player had he chosen that route.
“He’s a dynamic receiver,” Annese said. “He’s an athlete who can run and catch, but he’s also a big-bodied kid. After he committed to Ferris a Division I program came in and wanted to get him to switch, but Brandon stuck with us.”
Both players give Ferris potential game changers. A couple guys will be competing down the line to get the ball two them — QBs Alex Vandevusse of D3 state champion Grand Rapids Christian and Landon Grove from up in Gladwin. Vandevusse put up amazing numbers for GR Christian en route to their state title. He moves better than Grove. But Grove, a standout from our senior camp in December, is stronger with a bigger arm at 6-2 215.
After Stokes and Moore, the next highest-rated seniors in Ferris’ class are right down 131, and local. Anesse coached at Jenison and Muskegon, he knows all about Rockford football, a program which is one of only two in the state with more than one alumnus in the NFL. When you get the Rams’ top player, it’s like a defacto D1 talent. That’s what KC Zenner is, and might have been legally as well if it weren’t for a knee injury. To say expectations for him are high would be an understatement.
“KC is a winner,” Anesse said. “He’s the kind of guy that in four or five years will be leading us to a national championship. He’s a leader in every way.”
Jake Daugherty is the big boy down the block from Ferris. He’s slotted so highly due to his athleticism — he played linebacker for Big Rapids at 6-3, 275. With the light feet and aggressive field demeanor, Daugherty has the potential to do good things as on offensive lineman.
A couple Ferris recruits could share the “look the part” award. While his West Ottawa teammate, Saginaw Valley State signee Ryan Verhelst, was ranked higher because of his ball skills, Ato Condole is a little bigger, a little faster and more explosive. Another pure speed guy is Chris Bradford from Mona Shores. Greg Krusniak has the frame for good weight at 6-7, 235, and the hands and long stride to be a yardage threat. On the line, Loy-Norrix’ David Mann is like Krusniak, a prospect who could break through once he adds some weight. Krusniak would’ve been a higher level recruit if he’d done the camp circuit instead of played AAU basketball.
“You can’t coach 6-7,” Anesse said. “He’s a steal.”
Rugged runners? How about these two backs, 6-1, 210 Tristan Eikenroth from Kingsley, and 6-0, 180 Jahaan Brown straight from the East Grand Rapids tailback plant. How tough are these guys? Even with its history, no EGR back ever carried it 40 times in a game like Brown did against GR Christian; while Eikenroth played part of the season with a broken arm. As the offensive skill positions swell with young talent, either of these guys could move to the defensive side.
Holland Christian’s Lincoln Mulder doesn’t come in with the accolades as some of the other players, but is the kind of versatile athlete at 6-2, 220 that will fit in at H-back.
1. Riley Norman 6-7 305 OL Cadillac Michigan State (track and field)
2. Ryheem Stokes 5-10 170 ATH Grand Rapids Catholic Central Ferris State
3. Heath Hoogerhyde 6-2 215 ATH Caledonia Grand Valley State
4. Brandon Moore 6-4 190 WR Montague Ferris State
5. Corey Willis 5-10 170 ATH Holland Central Michigan
6. Jack Ford 6-6 270 OL Cadillac Central Michigan
7. Tyler White 6-6 230 DL Plainwell Illinois
8. Daniel Green 6-0 290 DL Grand Rapids West Catholic Iowa Western
9. Nate Jeppesen 6-4 270 OL Portage Central Toledo
10. Jake Bull 6-7 240 TE Hudsonville Hillsdale
11. Matt Modreske 6-7 300 OL Hopkins Northwood
12. Trent Karcher 6-1 185 WR Chippewa Hills
13. Gary Jones 6-2 200 ATH Allegan Central Michigan
14. Ryan Verhelst 6-1 185 DB/WR West Ottawa Saginaw Valley State
15. Antwan Billings 6-3 270 OL Muskegon Saginaw Valley State
16. Bobby Drew 6-3 265 DL Saugatuck Wayne State
17. KC Zenner 6-0 190 DB Rockford Ferris State
18. Houston Glass 6-1 190 DB East Kentwood Buffalo
19. Tyler Gildersleeve 6-7 280 OL Traverse City Central Michigan Tech
20. Jake Daugherty 6-3 275 OL/DL Big Rapids Ferris State
21. Zach Crouch 6-5 240 TE Grand Rapids Christian Central Michigan
22. Trevor Sweeney 5-9 170 RB Mattawan Western Michigan
23. Blake Mazur 6-2 255 DL Comstock Park Wayne State
24. Alex Korhorn 6-2 275 OL/DL Grand Rapids Christian Saginaw Valley State
25. Nic Lamica 6-4 210 LB Forest Hills Central Robert Morris
26. Matthew Hall 6-1 210 LB Grand Rapids Christian Hillsdale
27. Derrick Diver 6-3 215 LB Traverse City West Michigan Tech
28. Pierce Watson 6-0 190 LB Lowell
29. Ato Condole 6-1 180 WR/DB West Ottawa Ferris State
30. Joel Schipper 5-11 180 K Grand Rapids Christian Grand Valley State
31. Collin Schlosser 6-0 215 LB Forest Hills Central Grand Valley State
32. Greg Krusniak 6-7 235 TE Greenville Ferris State
33. Jack Jennings 6-2 215 LB Paw Paw Saginaw Valley State
34. Jake Brown 6-0 200 QB Comstock Park Michigan Tech
35. Brandan Campbell 6-0 215 RB/LB Otsego
36. Tristan Eickenroth 6-1 210 ATH Kingsley Ferris State
37. Dylan Smith 6-2 180 WR Kenowa Hills Northwood
38. Marcus Smith 5-10 175 ATH Muskegon Northern Michigan
39. Brett Scanlon 6-0 190 K Dowagiac
40. Seth VanEngen 6-5 215 UTL Grand Rapids South Christian
41. Trevor VanTubbergen 6-3 180 QB West Ottawa Wayne State
42. Hunter Folkerstsma 6-6 230 TE Forest Hills Central Bowling Green
43. Jahaan Brown 6-0 180 RB East Grand Rapids Ferris State
44. Seth McIntosh 5-9 195 RB Grand Rapids Christian Siena Heights
45. TJ Schepperly 5-9 175 ATH Traverse Central Northwood
46. Keane Belcher 6-3 220 DL Grand Rapids Catholic Central Grand Valley State
47. Andon Ware 6-1 175 ATH Baldwin Notre Dame (Ohio)
48. Spencer Nehls 6-1 185 ATH Forest Hills Central Hillsdale
49. John King 5-11 205 RB Muskegon
50. Joe Craven 5-11 210 LB Grand Rapids Catholic Central Saginaw Valley State
51. Quincy Crosby 6-3 290 OL Muskegon
52. David Mann 6-6 255 OL Kalamazoo Loy-Norrix Ferris State
53. Michael Custer 6-2 175 QB Zeeland East
54. Ronald Jenkins 6-1 255 DL Muskegon
55. Mike O’Brien 6-3 215 TE/DL Maple City Glen Lake
56. Nick Keizer 6-5 220 TE Portage Northern Grand Valley State
57. Chandar Ricks 6-4 290 OL Muskegon Northwood
58. Andrew Trautman 6-2 215 LB Elk Rapids Dayton
59. Chris Bradford 5-8 165 DB Mona Shores Ferris State
60. Adam Walma 6-4 220 DL/TE Caledonia
61. Ethan Buresh 6-2 215 LB Hamilton
62. Quinton Pulley 6-1 225 Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills Northwood
63. Alex Vandevusse 6-1 185 Sr Grand Rapids Christian Ferris State
64. Zach Decker 6-5 210 TE Schoolcraft
65. Reed Stormzand 6-2 215 ATH Lowell Siena Heights
66. Josh Dentler 6-6 265 OLPortage Northern Grand Valley State
67. Trevor Lutke 6-3 260 OL/DL McBain Northwood
68. Casey Mesbergen 6-2 215 DL Zeeland West
69. Kyle Short 6-2 185 QB Rockford Grand Valley State
70. Chad Walton 6-2 170 WR Grand Rapids Northview Michigan Tech
71. Landon Kresnak 6-3 235 DL Mona Shores Saginaw Valley State
72. Colin McCaw 6-1 180 WR/DB Vicksburg Western Michigan
73. Geovante Weston 5-11 185 RB Kalamazoo Hackett
74. Luke VanEssen 6-4 210 TE Kenowa Hills Northwood
75. Deven Scott-Stith 6-3 190 WR Grand Rapids Catholic Central Saginaw Valley State
76. DeJuan James 5-7 170 DB/RB Portage Central
77. Cal Beck 6-4 295 OL Paw Paw
78. Nathan Pupel 6-0 205 LB Traverse City Central Siena Heights
79. John Donazzolo 6-2 245 OL Sparta Michigan Tech
80. Harold Wiggins 6-3 190 Stevensville Lakeshore
81. Lincoln Mulder 6-2 215 UTL Holland Christian Ferris State
82. Brian Holmes 5-10 185 K West Ottawa Yale
83. Adam Klage 6-2 295 OL Mattawan
84. Amilio Flores 6-4 265 DL Fruitport Northwood
85. Jake Cowsert 6-0 175 QB Watervliet
86. Braden Werley 5-11 190 RB/DB Zeeland West
87. Marquese Livers 6-3 220 TE Muskegon Reeths-Puffer
88. Derek Woltjer 5-11 165 ATH Grand Rapids South Christian
89. David Kuzma 6-2 175 WR Grand Rapids West Catholic
90. Patrick Banks 5-10 320 DL Zeeland East Central Lakes (Minn.)
91. Sherman Hodges 6-1 160 WR/DB Muskegon Northern Michigan
92. Colt Harrington 6-2 250 DL Greenville Northwood
93. Wyatt Derrer 5-9 180 RB Mancelona Siena Heights
94. Nate Williams 6-3 245 DL East Kentwood Northwood
95. Brandon DeWitt 6-6 305 OL Three Rivers
96. Nicholas Zoerhof 6-3 320 DL Hudsonville Unity Christian
97. Billy Schaeffer 6-3 235 OL Grand Rapids West Catholic Elmhurst
98. Nick Kronemeyer 6-1 185 QB Hamilton
99. Zach Hill 6-1 185 RB/DB Kalkaska
100. Dalton Sultz 6-2 240 OL Mancelona Albion