Combine some descendants of large nationalities in West Michigan; country strong farm stock; good coaching with winning programs; and an ethos that would rather do it than talk about it, not surprisingly the Lake Area consistently produces college and pro offensive linemen. Fittingly, it was a line prospect, Portage Central’s Cory Carr fresh off a state semifinal appearance with Portage Central, who brought a different level of energy to, and left the coaches impressed at, the Senior Exposure Camp. It’s easy to see how he was a core two-way player for one of the best teams in school history. Sometimes it sounded like they were in pads when Carr hit em. He’s an athletic, tough guard at 6-1, 240. Physical, naturally strong kid, Carr won all his one-on-ones, even against one of the day’s dominant defenders, Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills senior Malik Green.
Carr also had some nice matchups with a fellow quick, physical from an undefeated regular season team, Cadillac senior Trevor Martin. Martin moves well at 6-1, 265, tough and finished plays because he kept his balance and feet going through the initial hit. He was a first-team D lineman in the Big North, meaning he has gotten the job done against some of the top O line prospects in the state. He also played some offense for Cadillac, guard in goal line situations. Carr was the top offensive lineman, Martin the best defensive lineman, at camp. Watching them up close, explains a lot about their teams’ success this fall. Justin Liptak was Martin’s senior teammate from the Cadillac team that pushed Comstock Park to the last play of the D4 regionals. It was Liptak’s first healthy season and made a difference for the Vikings. He’s not explosive, but solid and smoothly athletic with a terrific frame, 6-4, 220. Liptak worked out with the tight ends, good target though fought the ball a couple times. With his good grades, D3s should love this kid because he has the size and attitude, work ethic he showed to get back from the shoulder injury, to potentially fill a lot of roles.
Malik Green was amongst a strong contingent of Ottawa Hills seniors, a group that made up for average physical size with energy and speed. Green only ran a 5.3 40 but was very quick at 5-7, 200 and gave the bigger linemen fits. Size will make coaches pause, but this is a player for right fit. Liked the motor and strength on another Ottawa Hills senior Rajamon Watkins, 5-10, 250 with a 5.0 50. Owen Schafer, from Pewamo-Westphalia, is another guy built like a linebacker who gave bigger guys fits with his quick feet. Ditto Josiah Buys, a 6-1, 185 Lowell senior, with good technique and quick hands, he was hard to get into.
Byron Center senior Alexander Lake didn’t just have an appropriate last name for this camp, he looked like the top pass rusher. Good lean, violent hands at 6-2, 225 and a 5.0 40. Lake is built like a long, outside linebacker, if he can contain consistently becomes that much more valuable.
We’d seen him excel in AAU basketball and were excited to see what Gull Lake senior Odell Miller can do under the helmet. He’s still raw, but with a rebuilt, trim 6-4, 230 chassis and running a 4.9 40, there’s all kinds of utility value with Miller — down or up; middle, strong or outside LB; or maybe tight end. Didn’t always stay low, but when he did showed good quickness and an effective rip move. Frame to put on a lot of college muscle. And he hasn’t lost the hoop touch, scoring 18 in Gull Lake’s opener.
The talent level is rising in the Lake Michigan Conference. Even East Jordan has legit guys, like 6-0, 245 senior Ben Walton. He moonlighted as a fullback rushing for 700 yards, to the eternal jealousy of some of the other D linemen in his drill group. His future is as a 3 technique, he can beat you with the bull rush or his quickness. Keeps driving to occupy his man.
Muskegon Reeths-Puffer had talent at every level during its playoff season, and their seniors well-represented with offensive linemen Stephen Hanson and Matt Hoover, and Big School All-Lake defensive lineman Buck Tottingham. Hanson has some edge to go with his size at 6-4, 285. Much improved over the past year — more agile, smooth and assured — he was the best pure tackle prospect at camp. Good kick and consistently steered his man off path. Hoover was Reeths-Puffer’s other tackle. You wish he were taller at 5-11, 285, but love the initial push and how regularly he gets his hands in there. He’ll have to play on the interior and while he has the pop as a blocker, may not have the speed to pull. Maybe center? Wayland’s 6-1, 245 senior Colton VanDyke was the top center in camp. He’s another who won’t impress in a 40, but is explosive in short spaces. A bit undersized, but competitive, blue-collar blocker.
From two of the smallest schools, both in the SWAC North, came two of the camp’s biggest, strongest players, 6-4, 300 Saugatuck senior Cameron White and 6-1, 255 senior Adam Harris. Both have added value as long snappers. Harris is physically solid, did as well as any of the offensive lineman at consistently staying in his cylinder in pass protect and won the leverage game. From the other side of the Metropolitan Holland area, West Ottawa senior Cody VanTubergen was one of the pleasant surprises at camp. He was a 6-4, 235 defensive end for the Panthers, with surprising 4.9 speed. Quick off his stance for a big kid. Good frame just not in 100-percent shape but easy to fix.
When we had him at our Big Rapids combine, the local kid Brandon Hutson worked out primarily on defense. Now he’s plying his trade on the offensive line. Even when he was thinking things through, footwork was pretty smooth. A project but will mix it up at 6-1, 240, similar in size and ability to Cory Carr, just not at his level with technique and consistency.
Worth a look on his size, Greenville’s 6-4, 255 senior Steve Eipper plays like Grand Rapids South Christian’s Todd Postma, big, wide and strong at the point of attack.
The Lake Michigan Football Report’s “Senior Exposure Camp” is officially in the books. Thanks to all of the student-athletes, high school coaches, families, friends, fans, college coaches, and camp staff who helped make the day a success! Stay tuned for our recap of this exciting event! Follow us on Twitter @TheLakeFootball for up-to-the-moment updates.
College football teams are made in December, as teams fill their recruiting classes leading up to the February 5 National Signing Day. With that date looming, for the second year the Lake Michigan Football Report’s Senior Exposure Camp gives college coaches the chance to observe and meet over 100 prospects in one spot. The event will be held 5 pm Sunday, Dec. 8 at Woodland Sportsplex in Grand Rapids.
Note: Online registration is now closed, but on-site registration will be available for walk-up participants.
No one plays better football than in the Lake Area, so there will be ample talent, local and beyond, competing. Here are 15 seniors that the college coaches are excited to see Sunday in Grand Rapids.
Danny Bauder 5-9 190 Sr RB/DB Zeeland West
He’s long been an LMFR cult hero for his ability to rip off 4.4 40s like they’re dollar bills. The entire state got to see what the Bauder Buzz was about during Zeeland West’s trek to the Division 3 state title. For the year he rushed for 1,796 yards and 28 TDs.
Jake Bush 5-11 175 Sr RB Comstock Park
He’s part of a strong Comstock Park camp contingent which also includes DBs Sam LaRoche and Jimmy Whalen. As a senior Bush had 1,875 yards and 28 TDs running and catching.
Cory Carr 6-1 240 Sr DL/OL Portage Central
Portage Central had a lot going for it, going undefeated until the Division 2 semifinals. Even amidst a talented group, Carr stood out with his motor, enthusiasm and old school football gene.
Stephen Hanson 6-4 285 Sr OL Muskegon Reeths-Puffer
Reeths-Puffer had one of the Lake Area’s toughest lines, and both tackles will be in the house Sunday, Hanson and 5-11, 285 Matt Hoover.
Sam Harrison 6-0 180 Sr WR Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern
The QBs should get to know Harrison early. He’ll make them look good after a prolific career at Forest Hills Eastern, where he and another camp participant, David Andrusiak, helped the FHE become one of the Lake Area’s most improved teams in the Lake Area in coach Eddie Ostopow’s first season.
Joseph Koscielski 6-4 220 Sr ATH Saugatuck
A similarly-sized running back with the physical tools to project all over, and hailing from a Class C Lake Michigan resort town, Harbor Springs’ David Walker is one of the state’s top prospects in 2014. It will be interesting to see how the big fella runs.
Alexander Lake 6-2 225 Sr LB Byron Center
Should help himself in this environment, as Lake looks the part out of his pads. Major league pass rush threat from one of the Lake Area’s surprise playoff teams.
Justin Liptak 6-4 220 Sr TE Cadillac
The Lake Area’s best Northern Michigan team will have a couple of its main cogs taking the trip down 131, Liptak and lineman Trevor Martin.
Tyler McClanahan 5-11 175 Sr WR Grayling
The Lake Area’s most productive pitch-catch combo will be putting it up in Grand Rapids, with McClanahan and Grayling QB Jake Swander. McClanahan led the Lake area with 80 catches for 1,223 yards and 18 TDs.
Michael Miklusicak 5-9 190 Sr RB Wayland
There’s a strong running back contingent headed for the camp, and Milusicak takes a backseat to none of them after rushing for 1,821 yards and 14 TDs.
Odell Miller 6-4 230 Sr LB/TE Gull Lake
Miller reconstructed his body, and with increased mobility excelled as a stand-up linebacker, leading Gull Lake in tackes.
Jahara Phillips 5-11 200 Sr LB Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills
There’s a large camp contingent from Ottawa Hills, which had its first winning season since 2009. Phillips was their leading tackler.
Kyler Shurlow 6-1 190 Sr QB/DB Lowell
He’s always done well in combine environments. Oh, not to mention the football field, where as a senior Shurlow threw for 1,944 yards and 28 TDs and ruan for 889 yards and 18 TDs. A lot going for him as a recruit, as an athlete and student.
Ben Walton 6-0 245 Sr DL/RB East Jordan
The Lake Michigan Conference was as strong at it has been, for having college-quality talent and not just stockpiled at one or two schools. Walton is indicative of that positive trend, a powerhouse at nose tackle or fullback.
Alex Zimmerman 5-11 165 Sr WR/DB West Ottawa
We liked him back at our July combine at Stevensville Lakeshore, and Zimmerman didn’t disappoint once the pads went on, leading WO in receiving against a rugged schedule.
- Division 3: Zeeland West
- Division 5: Grand Rapids West Catholic
- Division 8: Muskegon Catholic Central
- Winners are italicized
- All games are played at Detroit’s Ford Field
- Playoff pick record: 82-15
Zeeland West 12-1 vs. DeWitt 13-0, 7: 30 pm
Ithaca carries the torch for Mid-Michigan football. Then there’s DeWitt, a great program with coach Rob Zimmerman that has missed the playoffs just once in the new century. Junior QB Jake Johnson has talent at his disposal, and the D has been strong enough to win the close ones like 21-20 in the semifinal with St. Clair. The Panthers have yet to see an offense as relentless as Zeeland West’s. The Dux average nearly 50 points and 400 rushing yards per game. DeWitt may be capable of keeping up, they’ve played and won five similarly paced games.
Grand Rapids West Catholic 9-4 vs. Menominee 13-0 4:30 pm
Menominee is looking for its first championship since coach Joe Noha was an assistant for Ken Hofer in 2007. West Catholic has been, if not a stronger program ,then at least a more fortunate postseason participant than the UP team. Menominee has a balanced offense which has rolled through the playoffs, including 59-28 against Muskegon Oakridge in the semifinal and 49-27 on Standish-Sterling the week before. West Catholic is a 5-4 bonus baby living the dream. This is a very veteran group that lost on Ford Field just last year. Not this time.
MVP Alex Lewandoski 5-11 185 Sr DB Muskegon Catholic Central
He showed his bonafides in the Division 8 state final, where he led MCC with nine tackles and two passes broken up, while running for 218 yards and three TDs. That’s a microcosm of the season, as he was the Crusaders’ leading rusher and tackler all fall. Both fast and a hitter, Lewandoski was the best player on the field regardless of if the other team included Big Ten or MAC recruits. He led a defense that pitched four shutouts, while scoring TDs via the run, catch, interception return, kick return and punt return.
DL Mitchell Stanitzek 6-4 235 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
After missing most of his junior season with an injury, Stanitzek made up for lost time as a senior. He was the one circled in every West Catholic opponent’s scouting report, and demanded double teams both as a defensive end and tight end. For his career, made 40 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Stanitzek is verbally committed to Eastern Michigan.
DL Dillon Thompson 6-0 240 Jr Elk Rapids
He made 65 tackles from his defensive end spot. 13 of those were sacks, which nearly doubled Elk Rapids’ previous school record. He went both ways, playing center on offense. Thompson and the Elks’ standout QB, Adam Trautman, were team captains as just juniors.
DL Jhonathon Williams 6-6 230 Sr Berrien Springs
What a whirlwind for Williams. From a veritable unknown, to committing to Toledo, then Missouri, and now finally just down the road to Notre Dame. He made 69 tackles, including 12.5 sacks.
LB Adam Armour 6-1 195 Sr Traverse City St. Francis
It wasn’t a storybook season for one of the Lake Area’s most accomplished programs. But Armour showed up and helped the Glads make the playoffs, again leading them in tackles despite playing with a broken arm.
LB Max Boorsma 6-0 220 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
He had a 28-tackle game as a sophomore, and didn’t stop until setting the career record for this 50-year-old program. Boorsma heads into Saturday’s Division 5 state championship game. Through district play, Boorsma had 140 tackles and forced three fumbles.
LB Lamar Jordan 5-11 185 Jr Muskegon Catholic Central
The second-leading tackler for the Division 8 state champions, after All-Lake Defensive MVP Alex Lewandoski, including a dozen behind the line. Jordan also picked off three passes. Jordan will lead a large returning contingent last year, so a repeat trip to Ford Field isn’t a crazy thought for the Crusaders.
LB Marty Ward 5-9 200 Jr Niles Brandywine
Tough two-way player for Brandywine. He led the defense with 70 tackles, while on the other side Ward ran 141 times for 1,068 yards and 14 TDs.
DB Trevor Apsey 6-0 205 Sr Maple City Glen Lake
He was also Glen Lake’s leading tackler, in on 123 stops including 8.5 behind the line. Apsey did it on both sides of the ball, and was one of the most dangerous players in the North, with a 99-yard TD run to his credit. Apsey finished the season with 134 carries for 1,388 yards and 18 TDs.
DB Doug Freeman 5-11 205 Sr Buchanan
A one-man gang in Buchanan. As good as he is at running back, Freeman said he prefers defense and made five interceptions to prove his point. Offensively, he ran for 1,291 yards (and over 4,000 for his career) and 15 TDs.
DB Will Noble 6-2 180 Sr Kalkaska
The top corner in the Lake Michigan Conference, checking the opponent’s top receiver in man coverage or playing the strong side. Noble had six interceptions, broke up nine tackles and recovered a fumble while makign 53 tackles. Noble was also Kalkaska’s quarterback, punter and kicker.
- Winners are italicized
- All games are played at Detroit’s Ford Field
- Playoff pick record: 80-14
Muskegon 12-1 vs. Birmingham Brother Rice 13-0, 1 pm Friday
Muskegon is the state’s all-time winningest program. Brother Rice’s Al Fracassa is the all-time winningest coach. This, a rematch of last year’s wild D2 final won by Brother Rice, will be Fracassa’s last game on the sidelines. This version of the Warriors is stronger than 2012. But they’ll have to see Muskegon QB Deshaun Thrower the entire game this time. After platooning QBs in the 2012 final, Brother Rice is more than content with just one this time around. Alex Malzone may be the state’s top junior QB, and he has a number of D1 recruits at the skill positions to toss it to.
Grand Rapids South Christian 12-1 vs. Marine City 12-1, 7:30 pm Friday
Defending state champion South Christian has looked even stronger than a year ago. Its defensive front was dominant at times against Comstock Park in the semis. The challenge against Marine City will be to slow down two 1,000-yard rushers, who run behind 6-3, 300 junior Kenton Rivard. Marine City has seen some tough QBs in the playoffs, but their toughest test will come in the form of Sailors junior Jon Wassink.
Beal City 13-0 vs. Muskegon Catholic Central 11-2, 10 am Friday
Last year’s runner-up, most of Beal City’s key players are veterans of that experience, back to atone fo rthat 35-10 loss to Harbor Beach. Muskegon Catholic has faced the tougher path — its last two wins were over New Lothrop and Mendon.
MVP Drew Marion 6-2 200 Sr QB Lake City
With Marion behind center, Lake City experienced unprecedented success. Their past two seasons have given the Trojans their most wins and most points in school history. As a senior, Marion completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,843 yards and 16 TDs while running for 1,529 yards and 33 TDs.
“His leadership and commitment to excellence is unparalleled,” Lake City coach Tim Peterson said. “He calls the entire offense at the line of scrimmage, all the blocking schemes and all the protection schemes. Without a doubt, he’s the most competitive player I’ve ever coached. A once-in-a-lifetime player.”
QB Nick Swore 6-2 190 Sr Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian
He battled through injuries the past two seasons, but when Swore was healthy, he was as tough a QB as you’ll find in the Lake Area. He led NorthPointe Christian to unprecedented success, losing only one game which he both started and finished, last year to Lake City and 2013 Offensive MVP Drew Marion. As a senior, Swore completed 40-of-60 passes for 532 yards and 11 TDS, while running for seven TDs.
OL Michael Caughey 6-0 235 Jr Muskegon Catholic Central
Caughey anchored a line that helped produce the most prolific offense in Muskegon Catholic Central history, which has been good enough to take them to the Division 8 state final. As the Crusaders’ right tackle, Caughey was the tip of the spear in their rushing attack. Also played on the defensive line.
OL Joe Corey 5-10 225 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
Corey has started 40 consecutive games at center for West Catholic, headed into the Division 5 state championship against Menominee. It’s West Catholic’s second-straight state final appearance. During that time, Corey’s graded out as a 90-percent blocker.
OL DeKurtis Murphy 6-5 295 Jr St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic
When Lake Michigan Catholic was running the ball, everyone in the stadium knew it was behind this big junior. He played both the left and right side of the line, at tackle and guard. Murphy could end up on either side of the line in college.
OL Nick Padla 6-5 280 Sr Berrien Springs
Michigan State struck gold with a recent lightly recruited lineman from the Lake Area, Plainwell’s Jack Conklin who is starting at left tackle for the Spartans as a red-shirt freshman. They’re hoping to have cashed in again on Padla. He’s a blue-collar pulling guard but with the light feet to possibly play tackle. He went both ways for Berrien Springs, making 47 tackles, six of them behind the line, and returned an interception for a TD.
OL Darrien Sweet 6-1 195 Sr Reed City
He was a two-time first-team all-league selection in the Central State, and the top vote-getter on the offensive line in 2013. Sweet was a stalwart on a line which cleared the way for the Coyotes to compile nearly 4,500 yards total offense during the regular season.
WR Tyler McClanahan 5-11 175 Sr Grayling
He was the total package as a receiver, with not just speed but hands and a knack for adjusting and getting the ball. No receiver in the Lake Area put up better numbers than McClanahan, ranking first across the board with 80 catches for 1,223 yards and 18 TDs.
WR Cooper Mojsiejenko 6-3 210 Sr Bridgman
Mojsiejenko did it all for Bridgman, as the featured member of its offense but also an outside linebacker, kick returner, place kicker and a punter averaging 49 yards per attempt. But it was as a receiver that Mojsiejenko did the most damage, with the speed to stretch the field and toughness to produce over the middle. He had 47 catches for 1,120 yards and seven TDs.
RB Kaleb Hauser 6-2 220 Sr Kalkaska
Kalkaska returned only one member of its offensive line, but that didn’t stop Hauser from rushing 178 times for 1,342 yards and 16 TDs to go with nine catches for 167 yards and three TDs. He did that in eight games, while also excelling defensively where he had 30 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
RB David Walker 6-4 230 Sr Harbor Springs
He turned in a second-straight 1,300-yard rushing season, with 1,378 and 13 TDs in eight games. He also returned a kick for a TD. As Walker succeeded, so did Harbor, with three then four wins the past two seasons after putting up a goose egg in 2011. It is Walker’s athleticism and versatility that earned him multiple D1 offers as a defensive end, tight end or h-back, before choosing to play next season at Harvard.
MVP Kenneth Finley 6-3 285 Sr DL Muskegon
Muskegon is making its second straight appearance in the Division 2 state final, with a defense built on the capable shoulders of Finley. What really separates Finley, besides the size, the strength and speed, is his motor. He demands so much attention and creates so much havoc on the right side of the line, it opens things up for teammates to make plays. Not that Finley isn’t making them himself. In the regular season he had 17 tackles for loss, including seven sacks. As is the Big School Offensive MVP, Zeeland West’s Jordan VanDort, Finley is verbally committed to Western Michigan.
DL Ryan Gruszka 6-4 215 Sr Comstock Park
From pass rush specialist to every down impact player, Gruszka was a key member of the first undefeated regular season team in Comstock Park history. He had 70 tackles in the regular season, including seven sacks. Gruszka was also a standout tight end.
DL Jacob Howe 6-2 240 Sr Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern
Cornerstone of the Lake Area’s stingiest defense. In the regular season Howe had 84 tackles, including 11 sacks. He also rushed for four TDS and was the Huskies’ kicked and punter.
DL Buck Tottingham 6-0 220 Sr Muskegon Reeths-Puffer
From a talented overall roster, Tottingham was called by Reeths-Puffer coach Kyle Jewett the Rockets’ best player. He’s a two-way lineman, a center and defensive tackle, who was a tough cover because he could both bull rush his man, or make him miss. In the regular season Tottingham had three sacks, forced three fumbles and recovered three fumbles.
LB Wyatt Batdorff 5-10 180 Sr Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern
Projects as a college safety, but was a terrific high school linebacker for a lock-down defense. Played so fast and hard, hit like a much bigger man. Also made an impact with his relentless special teams coverage. Batdorff led Forest Hills Northern with 104 tackles.
LB Brent Showers 5-11 220 Sr Rockford
Classic middle linebacker who has done it on the big stage for years, leading Rockford in tackles the past three seasons. With that veteran savvy, Showers had a knack for ending up in the right spots, and when he did there was as good chance a big hit was ensuing. As a senior he led Rockford with 120 tackles, including 23 behind the line of scrimmage.
LB Quinton Sweeney 6-3 220 Sr Wayland
Wayland was one of the Lake Area’s happiest stories, going from a win-less 2012 to making the playoffs. When you have players like Sweeney, can’t be held down forever. He was Wayland’s leading tacker and also started at tight end on one of the Lake Area’s most prolific rushing offenses.
DB Sam LaRoche 6-0 190 Sr Comstock Park
Had a career notable for LaRoche’s knack for stepping up to make big plays, and Comstock Park certainly provided him with the opportunities to play in games that mattered. He made 50 tackles with four interceptions and three passes broken up.
DB Mickey Losey 6-0 180 Sr Portage Central
He filled in admirably at quarterback in the playoffs and was the Mustangs’ kicker, but where Losey really made his impact was on defense. It didn’t matter where he was on the field either, whether making 11 interceptions, or three sacks.
DB Kyler Shurlow 6-1 195 Sr Lowell
He put up silly stats as Lowell’s quarterback. But unlike a lot of QBs who may see spot minutes in the defensive backfield when a team needs their best athletes out there, Shurlow was an every down corner for the Red Arrows, and a good one. Oh, about that offense — Shurlow threw for 1,944 yards and 28 TDs, and ran for 889 yards and 18 TDs.
DB Jordan Waire 6-1 175 Sr Muskegon
A soft spot last year, Muskegon’s secondary was much improved in 2013 and gave the Big Reds stoppers at all three levels of the defense. Waire only allowed two passes completed against him during the regular season.