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
Sunday’s Lake Michigan Football Report Combine in Grand Rapids will be a great chance to take the pulse of the Lake Area’s upcoming talent, with the first look at some underclassmen, and closer looks at once who were already varsity performers as sophomores.
Perhaps the best-known 2016 prospects planning to attend are from Zeeland West’s Division 4 state championship team. Zach VanValkenburg is a 6-3, 210 defensive standout. In that final game VanValkenburg had a sack of DeWitt’s all-state QB Jake Johnson. The last time Zeeland West had an impact underclassman on a state championship team it was Jordan Vandort, who parlayed that into an all-state career that will continue at WMU. 5-11, 164 Casey Brinks was West’s starting QB as only a 10th-grader, with a likely college destination in the defensive backfield. Also from the Dux, Colton Overway intrigues as a 6-2, 270 two-way lineman.
Another sophomore defensive standout we last saw winning hardware at Ford Field was Grand Rapids West Catholic’s 6-2, 240 lineman Carl Myers. He had a couple tackles in their win over Memominee.
Perennial state power Lowell was loaded as always in 2013, but that didn’t mean some youngsters didn’t contribute. 6-1, 280 soph Karson Murley started on the Red Arrows’ offensive line. 6-0, 150 receiver Gabe Steed was called up from Lowell’s JV team and made an instant impact. Clearly not fazed by the big stage, Steed caught three TD catches in Lowell’s playoff win against Mona Shores. 6-0, 200 sophomore linebacker Trevor Shurlow has a familiar last name to Lake Area fans.
Michael VanHoeven was a first-team All-Wolverine Conference offensive lineman for Paw Paw as just a sophomore. He certainly passes the look test at that age, checking in at 6-5, 255.
Grandville’s Nolan Meekhof stood out at last year’s LMFR Combine with a terrific size/speed combination for just a freshman. Now he has a year of O-K Red varsity ball under his belt making the 6-1, 217 running back an even more intriguing prospect.
This is just a handful of the young talent that will be putting it on the line at the combine. There is still an opportunity to compete against them, to register click here.
Join the top underclassmen from throughout Michigan & the Midwest on Sunday, March 16, 2014! Registration for the 2014 Lake Michigan Football Combine is now open… Click HERE for more details!
Big 10: Michigan
While U-M only has one Lake Area recruit, he is one who, the last time he played football, achieved the greatest receiving game in state final history. The only problem for Drake Harris — that was 2012, and he hasn’t played since. The former Grand Rapids Christian two-sport all-stater is already enrolled at Michigan. Harris is the Lake Area’s No. 1 prospect. No. 2 is his former teammate Tommy Doles, an athletic lineman headed to Northwestern. Michigan State has the largest Big Ten class in numbers, with two Lake Area kids St. Francis LB/DB Byron Bullough and Berrien Springs lineman Nick Padla, though both are ranked lower here than on national recruiting sites.
MAC: Western Michigan
It was a regrettable debut on the field for first-year WMU coach PJ Fleck, but he did row the boat the right direction on one front — prioritizing in-state recruiting. That included locking down the Broncos’ own backyard, which was never the case during Bill Cubit’s tenure. WMU landed two of the Lake Area’s top 5 seniors, in defensive tackle Kenneth Finley of Muskegon and do-it-all mammoth athlete Jordan VanDort from Zeeland West. Not only do these guys have Big Ten measurables, but they’re winners. VanDort started on West’s 2011 and 2013 state championship teams, while Finley did the same on the Big Reds squads that twice finished state runner-up to to Brother Rice. WMU also added Asantay Brown, an all-state receiver from Mona Shores who spurned a Minnesota offer to play DB in Kazoo; and Elliot Jordan, a lanky, athletic tackle prospect from East Kentwood. Preferred walk-on Cory Carr is a brawling offensive lineman and linebacker who played on the Portage Central team that went undefeated before losing to Muskegon in the Division 2 semifinals.
HM in the MAC is CMU. The Chippewas have long thrived recruiting the Lake Area, from their first All-American Leo Wisneski, through Jim Bowman, Curtis Adams, Gary Hogeboom, to Ray Bentley or Dan Bazuin, and Rockford’s finest Bryan Anderson and Joe Staley. Central has smaller scholarship numbers in 2014 with a fewer than 20-man class, slow-playing the Lake Area before swooping in to add some quality prospects. They flipped Grand Rapids West Catholic’s Mitchell Stanitzek from EMU and also took Bridman’s Cooper Mojsiejenko. Both have the size, versatility and athleticism to be quality starters. Mojsiejenko’s talent won’t be fully realized if CMU uses him only as a punter, the position his father played in the NFL. Portage Central running back Jerrod Davis made the most of his one season in the Lake Area after moving from Detroit King, and Maple City Glen Lake’s Trevor Apsey is a walk-on with scholarship athletic ability.
GLIAC: Ferris State
The Bulldogs hit up the Lake Area hard for what was a nationally-recognized Division 2 class in 2013, with the likes of Montague’s Brandon Moore, Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s Ryhem Stokes and Rockford’s KC Zenner amongst their dozen local signees. There are eight on Ferris’ board in 2014, and the high quality continues led by the Lake Area’s top running back or linebacker, Zeeland East’s Spencer Viening, and top quarterback, Cadillac record-setter Jalen Brooks. Viening, injured most of his senior season, is a top 10 overall prospect (ahead of three BCS recruits) and Brooks top 20 (ahead of four MAC scholarship players). Ferris State is fond of Division 2 semifinalist Portage Central, taking three Mustangs — RB/LB Jacob Allen; TE/DL Matt Capasso; and TE/OL Hunter Lassiter, originally a CMU commitment. The linebacking corps is impressive — Grand Rapids Union’s Paul Brown; pass-rusher Carl Grant from Dowagiac; and Muskegon’s Will Hunt.
It would be remiss not to mention GLIAC HM Northern Michigan. Marquette came out of nowhere in previous recruiting cycles to enter West Michigan and land one of the best defensive players in Rockford history, all-state linebacker Brent Showers, and the Lake Area’s most explosive running back, Danny Bauder from state champion Zeeland West. NMU also added two guys who didn’t just put up sterling numbers against legit competition, but did it with college bodies, 6-1 195 Muskegon Reeths-Puffer running back Julian Munday and 6-4 240 GR Catholic Central receiver Austin Gordon.
Small College: Siena Heights
The Saints have a sweet star logo and had a number of big recruiting wins in the Lake Area. Ogemaw Heights lineman Alec Stevens, Traverse City St. Francis linebacker Adam Armour, Grand Rapids Christian WR/DB Dwayne Barfield and Forest Hills Eastern receiver Sam Harrison are all in the Lake 100.