Nolan Meekhof was impressive at the 2013 Lake Michigan Football Report Combine as just a freshman. He returned in 2014 with a season of varsity ball on his resume and was even better. He’s a powerhouse 6-1, 217 sophomore running back from Grandville who brings to mind physically and stylistically another O-K Red back, Lake Area all-timer Jon Anes from East Kentwood. Meekhof twice ran 4.69 in the 40, had a 30″+ vertical and the top powerball toss over 40 feet.
Meekhof projects as either a running back or linebacker. So could Cadillac’s Michael Holdship or Caledonia’s Eddie Kelly. Holdship, a sophomore, was one of the top underclassman defensive players, but could also be MAC fullback with his 4.68 speed at 6-0, 210.
Kelly is a 6-0, 204 junior who plays like Portage Central senior Jacob Allan, a long-stride runner who can deliver a hit with or without the ball while showing the hands of a natural receiver. Kelly had a 4.75 40 with a 32 1/2″ vertical. Caledonia should be as tough as ever if their combine contingent is an indication. 5-11, 170 junior QB Kobe Wilson looks like the kind of athlete who could transition to other positions, 6-0, 175 junior running back Logan Soule did well as did Zane Gorby. Gorby really intrigues as a 6-3, 200 sophomore tight end. He was able to create space and give a consistent target. Right now he’s all frame, and no beef.
Other standout tight ends were Trevor Raby, a 6-4, 225 Zeeland West junior making the transition from tackle; 6-2, 225 Vicksburg junior Jarrad Whited, who was one of the event’s dominant pass rushers but also took some time to work out with the offense, showing the ability to bring in the ball in traffic; 6-3, 185 junior Cole Butler, a smart, fundamentally strong player from one of Northern Michigan’s top programs, Boyne City; and from one of the top programs regardless directoin, Lowell’s 6-4, 185 junior Josh Branagan.
With Meekhof the big back of choice, it was a Woodhead type Plainwell junior Jacob Geter who was the most dominant testing player at camp. At 5-8, 170, he ran combine-best 4.37 40 with a 32 1/1″ vertical and surprisingly also one of the event’s best power ball throws. Those physical tools were evident in the actual football portion, quick in and out of cuts and shifty he was able to repeatedly juke free of would-be defenders. Plays with a lot of confidence and swagger. Geter could be this year’s Danny Bauder. Another standout small back was Reed City’s John Green, at 5-7, 175 and coming off a standout junior season. He ran a 4.65 40.
We mentioned Jon Anes. His brother Curt of course was a star QB at EK and then Grand Valley. The Falcons now have another promising signal caller in 6-2, 175 junior Kyle Frieberg. He’d be better known but for being born into the Lake Area’s epic QB class. Threw a nice deep ball and has the athleticism (4.7 speed) to make plays outside of the pocket. What really separated Frieberg was how quickly he was able to develop a rapport with the receivers he’d just met. His reps had to have had the highest completion percentage of the combine QBs. Frieberg won’t lack for weapons at EK. A couple of his teammates, 5-11, 180 junior David Cutts (with a 34 1/2″ vertical) and 5-8, 150 sophomore Shane Harris, were two of the combine’s top receivers.
Before he was hurt, Paw Paw’s Jay Doll was one of the most prolific Lake Area quarterbacks in 2014. The 6-0, 190 junior showed the tools behind the number, looks and moves like an athlete. Doll threw a tight ball though the touch varied. A couple Northern Michigan QBs pass the looks test. 6-3, 175 Baldwin junior Brandon Childress has mid-major offers in both football and basketball. His arm was evident here, though he wasn’t always on the same page as his receivers. From Elk Rapids, junior Adam Trautman could project at a bunch of positions at 6-4, 205 with a 4.84 40 and 30-inch vertical.
Solid all-around running backs were 6-0, 175 Independence, Tenn. junior Dom Childress; 5-9, 175 West Ottawa junior James Lacy; and 5-10, 210 Holland junior Elroy Payne.
Fremont sent a pair of interesting prospects with college position to be determined. 5-11, 185 junior Dylan Collis ran sharp routes and did it with 4.75 speed. 6-2, 160 Fremont sophomore Logan Heddon has an easy stride, can throw or catch, needs some explosiveness that may come with age.
Here at the Lake Michigan Football Report, it’s no secret that we love to see players from West & Northern Michigan earn opportunities to play at the collegiate level. We’ve put together a special #ThrowbackThursday Alumni Edition to showcase Lake Area alumni who are currently living out their college football dreams. We hope you enjoy the first installment featuring Comstock Park alum and current Michigan Tech Husky Jake Brown!
Jake Brown Quick Facts:
High School: Comstock Park, Class of 2013
Height / Weight: 6-0, 195 lbs.
College: Michigan Tech University
Major: Bio-Medical Engineering
High School Career Highlights: Led team to back-to-back Division 4 state semifinal appearances; top QB at the 2012 Lake Michigan Football Report Senior Exposure Camp; 2012 All-Lake Big School QB; ran for 1100+ yards and threw for 1600 yards as a senior; appears on the all-time MHSAA record lists for pass attempts, total yardage in a season, and rushing touchdowns in a game; played for the West All-Stars in the 33rd Annual East-West All-Star Game; graduated with a 4.00+ GPA
LMFR: How is college football different compared to the high school level?
JB: College football is much more of a commitment and a much more serious game. Everyone on the team has been a star player at their high school and they all love the game of football. It is also different because there truly is no offseason. When one season ends the next season begins.
LMFR: Your high school success brought you to the next level, what can your past high school success be attributed to?
JB: My past high school success can be completely attributed to my parents, coaches, and community. My dad got me started in football and both my parents always encouraged me to be the best I could be while also pushing me to realize that hard work was going to pay off. My high school coaches also played a big role by handing down their knowledge and helping to show me the right way to do things. And of course, Comstock Park played a great role in my high school success. If it weren’t for all the fans coming out to the games we wouldn’t have gotten the new stadium renovations that we are getting nor would playing in a playoff game at home been as fun. All the players fed off of their energy.
LMFR: What is your current major and what do you plan to accomplish with that major once you graduate? How do you balance academics and athletics?
JB: I am currently majoring in bio-medical engineering. When I graduate I would like to work with either prosthetics or in biomaterials. Balancing academics with athletics can be a little tough when going to a school like Michigan Tech. But I have learned that I have to budget my time very well and be sure that I know what I need to do each day so that all homework can be done and I can be ready for exams. My fall football schedule is very structured with practice followed at night by a mandatory study table. This also helps to keep my academics up.
LMFR: What position are you currently projected to play during this upcoming year and what are some things you are looking to contribute to the team?
JB: I am currently going to play quarterback next year. Right now it appears that I will be learning for at least one more year from our All GLIAC starter Tyler Scarlett. This season I want to learn as much as I can so that I can be ready when my number is called.
LMFR: As a high school student-athlete attending the Lake Michigan Football Report combine, what were some things you experienced during the event that helped you reach the collegiate level?
JB: At the Lake Michigan Football Report combine I first of all had a blast. It was a time for me that I could just relax and throw the ball around to a bunch of very talented athletes. It also helped me to throw to receivers that were much faster than what I was used to at times and learn to adjust. I had a blast. It is nice to be able to be looked at as a good football player at your camps rather than being looked at as an undersized talent. Lots of guys out there are “undersized” but showing out at your camps.
LMFR: Special thanks to Jake Brown for the interview! We wish you all the best!
The Lake Michigan Football Report is looking for college football prospects to showcase their skills at our next football exposure camp in Northern Michigan. Join us “under the lights” on Friday, May 9th, 2014, at beautiful Thirlby Field in Traverse City, MI! Click HERE for more details!
Make Danil Young an honorary member or the Rat Pack. It was hard not to hum “Me and My Shadow” while watching the Grandville junior lock it down as a cover man in one-on-one drills at the Lake Michigan Football Report Combine. He was equally adept turning and going, or reading underneath routes and going into drape mode. Cover 0, Young was anything but a zero. In the testing, Young cracked the 4.6s in the 40 and one of the top five pro shuttle times. Coaches will have to determine if his agility, technique and instincts outweigh what isn’t elite burst or speed.
If Young has Westside coverage options, Northern Michigan’s playmaker as a QB or receiver but perhaps a future brightest in the defensive backfield is Ogemaw Heights‘ Ben Hartley. Rangy at 6-2, 180, ran sub-4.7; free stride, instinctive athlete. Showed off his QB pedigree with how he read and reacted to routes.
Caledonia’s 6-0, 175 junior Lougan Soule was strong off the ball and in coverage. He was part of a contingent of Caledonia players who are just tough, blue-collar all-around athletes who will find a way to contribute, like their QB 5-11, 170 senior Kobe Wilson or one of the combine’s best overall performers 6-0, 205 junior Eddie Kelly. Also from Caledonia is a sophomore linebakcer, 6-3, 200 Zane Gorby, who is he gets as fit as some of his older teammates will be trouble.
Zach VanValkenburg is touted as the next do-it-all D1 prospect after JordanVanDort from the powerhouse Zeeland West program. While he lacks the sheer mass of JVD, ZVV is impressive in his own right. He’s a 6-3, 210 Dux sophomore who worked out primarily as a hand-down 5 technique. Flexible but coiled and quick off the snap, loves the swim move and can complete a play. Like so many underclassmen, college future will depend on if he bulks up or can can speed and prove something in pass coverage. As he adds strength could see VanValkenburg as a 4-3 middle linebacker as well.
VanValkenburg wasn’t the only underclassman D line prospect showing bursts of potential. Grand Rapids West Catholic has had an amazing run up front with Daniel Green, Mitchell Stanitzek, Bryce Windham and sophomore Carl Myers in successive classes. All four are quite different players. Myers is a 6-2, 240 two-way lineman. He tested very well for his age in both speed and strength.
The top 2015 linemen were Comstock Park’s Mike Egeler, East Kentwood’s Victor Williams and Vicksburg’s Jarrad Whited. 6-4, 225 Comstock Park junior Egeler could be the third GLIAC lineman in as many years produced by the Panthers, after former LMFR camp stars Blake Mazur (Ferris State) and Ryan Gruszka (Saginaw Valley State). They’re three different players, Mazur a big guy who’d duke it out, Gruszka just one of those guys with special sense for getting to the QB. Egeler isn’t as strong as Mazur, nor does he get lean like Gruszka. But he has a big, square frame that you can do a lot of things with, and plays stout at the point of attack. Likely a 3-4 defensive end; could also play tight end.
East Kentwood’s 6-2, 269 junior Victor Williams impressed both in drills and test. He mixed up moves in his pass rush, with good balance, timing and explosive strength. A full off-season with a coaching staff that has EK poised for big things, and MAC interest would seem imminent for Williams. There was another O-K Red lineman who looked intriguing when he started to run at 6-4, 225, but West Ottawa junior Darrius Moragne pulled up lame in that very first 40 attempt and couldn’t compete the rest of the day.
Whited’s performance was no shock. He always shows up, whether as one of the top underclassman at the 2013 combine, his terrific junior season film, or working out here as a defensive and tight end. He’s sub-5.0 at 6-2, 225 with strong closing speed. Plays with a mean streak. Offensively, he took advantage of his strength to separate and also had good concentration bringing it in under duress.
He’s not the athlete of the first three 2015 lineman, but Reed City’s TJ Patterson does some good things. He’s quick and strong at a 6-3, 260 junior, a GLIAC interior guy on one side of the ball or the other. From even further up 131, 6-3, 185 Cole Butler is a sleeper prospect at linebacker, well-coached and a smooth if not explosive. all-around athlete.
A couple juniors who would jump to the top of this list if they went full pads are 2013 All-Lake picks Smith Saenbouttarath from Zeeland West and Elk Rapids’ Dillon Thompson. At 5-11, 270 Saenbouttarath makes up for reach with how he gets low and is quick for his size. Thompson looks more like a linebacker at 6-0, 230, but with a built similar and pass-rush technique that reminds of former combine standout Jacob Howe (Grand Valley State).
The top middle linebacker prospects by class were West Ottawa’s 5-10, 210 junior Mason Dekker and Cadillac’s 6-0, 210 sophomore Michael Holdship. Dekker will be a three-year tackling machine in the O-K Red, better at play speed than time speed. Holdship was an impressive two-way player as only a 10th-grader on Cadillac’s historic team, and showed here the athletic bonafides as well, with a 4.68 40. He plays with pop either with or without the ball, kid’s a truck. Other 2016 linebackers to remember are 6-0, 220 Trevor Shurlow from Lowell and 6-2, 180 Jonas LaMont from Onekama. Not often you hear those schools’ football teams in the same sentence.
The top all-around testing junior linebackers were Fruitport’s 6-1, 190 Nathan Kriger and from Independence, Tenn. 6-0, 175 Dom Childress. Kriger had the combine’s quickest shuttle time and a 4.7 40. Childress ran a 4.66 40 and looked capable both running or defending routes.
Don’t look for Lake Area D line talent to diminish. From 2017, 6-5, 225 Nate Umlor started as a freshman Allendale and competed like a varsity player. He looks the part all around, and has the wingspan you like. Another freshman, 6-4, 213 Jayk Slager from Zeeland West, ran a sub-5.0 40. Also for 2017, West Catholic’s 6-1, 192 freshman David Fox moves really well for his age, too good an athlete for the Falcons not to find a spot for him in the fall.
QB Tanner Christian 5-11 176 So Caledonia
OL Michael VanHoeven 6-5 255 So Paw Paw
OL Karson Murley 6-1 280 So Lowell
OL Mason Shirrell 6-3 215 Fr Muskegon Orchard View
OL Colton Overway 6-2 275 So Zeeland West
OL Josiah VanTil 6-1 200 Fr Middleville
RB Nolan Meekhof 6-1 217 So Grandville
RB Ryan Graham 5-10 160 Fr East Jordan
TE Jayk Slager 6-4 213 Fr Zeeland West
WR Shane Harris 5-8 150 So East Kentwood
WR Joe VandePol 6-1 165 Fr Wyoming Tri-Unity Christian
DL Carl Myers 6-2 240 So Grand Rapids West Catholic
DL Zach VanValkenburg 6-3 210 So Zeeland West
DL Nate Umlor 6-5 210 Fr Allendale
DL Nathan Lay 6-0 225 So Zeeland West
DL Keegan Cossou 6-5 200 Fr Greenville
LB Trevor Shurlow 6-0 200 So Lowell
LB Jonas LaMont 6-2 180 So Onekama
LB David Fox 6-1 192 Fr Grand Rapids West Catholic
LB Michael Holdship 6-0 210 So Cadillac
DB Jared Yarbrough 5-7 165 So Paw Paw
DB Casey Brinks 5-11 164 So Zeeland West
DB Marshall Kilgore 5-11 150 Fr Comstock Park
QB Kyle Friberg 6-1 175 Jr East Kentwood
RB Jacob Geter 5-8 170 Jr Plainwell
RB Nick Jasch 5-10 180 Jr Zeeland West
OL Bryce Wilker 6-5 285 Jr Belding
OL TJ Patterson 6-3 260 Jr Reed City
OL Caleb Brinks 6-0 280 Jr Hudsonville Unity Christian
OL Cody Mattison 6-3 275 Jr Parchment
OL James Driesenga 5-10 202 Jr Zeeland West
TE Braden Carl 6-4 190 Jr West Ottawa
WR Dylan Collis 5-11 185 Jr Fremont
WR Darnel Jarrett 5-10 162 Jr Pickering, Ont.
DL Victor Williams 6-2 269 Jr East Grand Rapids
DL Jarrad Whited 6-2 225 Jr Vicksburg
DL Mike Egeler 6-4 225 Jr Comstock Park
DL Trevor Raby 6-4 225 Jr Zeeland West
LB Mason Dekker 5-10 210 Jr West Ottawa
LB Nathan Kriger 6-1 190 Jr Fruitport
LB Eddie Kelly 6-0 205 Jr Caledonia
DB Danil Young 5-10 180 Jr Grandville
DB Dom Childress 6-0 175 Jr Independence, Tenn.
DB Ben Hartley 6-2 180 Jr West Branch Ogemaw Heights
DB Logan Soule 6-0 175 Jr Caledonia
The 2014 Lake Michigan Football Report Combine was loaded with offensive linemen. While this year’s group didn’t have as much name recognition — yet — it may have been just as talented. The breakout performer was 6-5, 255 sophomore Michael VanHoeven from Paw Paw. The baby-faced big kid was an all-league guard as a 10th-grader and it was easy to see why. VanHoeven consistently had the loudest hits in one-on-ones. He played through the whistle and finished his blocks; got good leverage, when he remembered to plant. While he may not have the speed to be a tackle, VanHoeven still tested overall as one of the best big guys in attendance including the quickest pro shuttle. Making him that much more attractive to college programs will be his 4.0 gpa.
Another 2016 prospect, 6-1, 280 Karson Murley from state power Lowell, got a wake-up call with the first hit of the day, got angry, and was dialed in the rest of the way. He consistently won the battle for pad level. Good kickout in pass block and was able to maneuver his man wide.
The best-known O-line prospect coming in was Bryce Wilker, a 6-5, 285 junior from Belding. He is their left tackle, but projects as a blue-collar interior at the next level. Very good run blocker, violent hands, improving in space. Looked good running at his size with a 5.3 40. Improved strength and flexibility will only help his already solid stock.
Reed City’s 6-3, 260 junior TJ Patterson provided the push for one of the Lake Area’s most potent running games last fall. He was really quick out of his stance to deliver hits. Another impressive junior was 6-0, 280 Caleb Brinks from Hudsonville Unity Christian. Barrel-chested kid moved well with a 5.16 40. Could see him going either way, reminds of East Jordan senior Ben Walton, who signed with Northwood.
Zeeland West’s 6-4, 225 junior Trevor Raby was one of our favorite 2015 tackles from the fall. He worked out with the tight ends, the position he’ll play this season replacing Jordan VanDort. Defending Divisoin 4 state champion West also must replace stalwart center AJ Tinholt, and 6-2, 275 sohomore Colton Overway looks like an option there though he’ll have to improve his quickness, while junior James Driesenga steps in at tackle. He’s small at 5-10, 202, but showed strong technique and was able to lock up and redirect larger D linemen.
One of the younger offensive linemen and one to watch was 6-3, 215 2017 prospect Mason Shirrell, who started as a freshman for Muskegon Orchard View.
40’1 Nolan Meekhof 6-1 217 So Grandville
37’8 John Green 5-7 175 Jr Reed City
37’8 Caleb McNitt 6-2 210 Jr West Ottawa
37’1 Michael Holdship 6-0 210 So Cadillac
36’9 Jacob Geter 5-8 170 Jr Plainwell
36’5 Victor Williams 6-2 269 Jr East Grand Rapids
36’4 Carl Myers 6-2 240 So Grand Rapids West Catholic
36’4 Adam Trautman 6-4 205 Jr Elk Rapids
36’2 Elroy Payne 5-10 210 Jr Holland
34’7 Drake Fincannon 5-9 170 Fr Zeeland West
34’6 Trenton Monroe 6-1 210 Jr Plainwell
34’3 Austin Rohr 6-1 180 Jr Plainwell
33’7 Dom Childress 6’0 175 Independence, Tenn.
33’7 David Fox 6-1 192 Fr Grand Rapids West Catholic
33’7 Nick Jasch 5-10 180 Jr Zeeland West
33’7 Eddie Kelly 6-0 205 Jr Caledonia
37″ Jacob Geter 5-8 170 Jr Plainwell
34 1/2″ David Cutts 5’11 180 Jr East Kentwood
33 1/2″ Dom Childress 6-0 175 Jr Independence, Tenn.
33 1/2″ Nick Jasch 5-10 180 Jr Zeeland West
33 1/2″ Keimon Carter 5-8 145 So Comstock Park
32 3/4″ Eddie Kelly 6-0 205 Jr Caledonia
32 1/3″ Kevin Smith 5-9 135 Jr East Kentwood
31 3/4″ Jared Yarbrough 5-7 165 So Paw Paw
31 1/2” Brandon Childress 6-3 185 Jr Baldwin
31 1/3″ Austin Rohr 6-1 180 Jr Plainwell
31 1/3” Logan Soule 6-0 175 Jr Caledonia
31″ Devin Butler 6-2 180 Jr Zeeland East
31” Nolan Meekhof 6-1 217 So Grandville
31″ Toni Sok 5-7 145 Jr West Ottawa
31″ Adam Tautman 6-4 205 Jr Elk Rapids
30 1/2” Brandon Davis 5-10 160 Jr Holland
30 1/4″ Shane Harris 5-8 150 So East Kentwood
4.34 Jacob Geter 5-8 170 Jr Plainwell
4.56 Darnel Jarrett 5-10 162 Jr Pickering, Ont.
4.59 Kevin Smith 5-9 135 Jr East Kentwood
4.60 Tanner Christian 5-11 176 So Caledonia
4.62 Ty Brugh 5-8 155 So Plainwell
4.62 Nick Jasch 5-10 180 Jr Zeeland West
4.63 Devon Thompson 5-8 158 So Greenville
4.64 Ryan Graham 5-10 160 Fr East Jordan
4.65 John Green 5-7 175 Jr Reed City
4.66 Dom Childress 6-0 175 Jr Independence, Tenn.
4.68 Michael Holdship 6-0 210 So Cadillac
4.68 Shane Harris 5-8 160 So East Kentwood
4.69 Nolan Meekhof 6-1 217 So Grandville
4.69 James Lacy 5-9 170 Jr West Ottawa
4.69 Ben Hartley 6-2 180 Jr Ogemaw Heights
4.69 Toni Sok 5-7 145 Jr West Ottawa
4.69 Jared Yarbrough 5-7 165 So Paw Paw
4.69 Danil Young 5-10 180 Jr Grandville