Class of 2015
Sam Beal 6-2 175 Sr WR Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills Western Michigan
Beal doesn’t just look and move the part of a college receiver — long arms and smooth sprinter’s speed — he produced like it in Ottawa Hills’ opener, admittedly against by far the worst team we’ve seen in the now third season of the LMFR, Grand Rapids Union. Beal needs to work on his strength getting off the jams, but with his knee fully healthy once he reaches gear watch out. Against Union he made life simpler for Ottawa Hills’ sophomore QB Jeremy Glasco. Beal caught three balls from Glasco for 103 yards and two TDs, and scored twice more on an end-around and interception return. Unlike last year’s Western Michigan recruit from the Lake Area, Mona Shores’ Asantay Brown, we like Beal as a natural receiver instead of DB in the MAC.
Chris Pearl 6-4 185 Sr WR Otsego
He could be this year’s Kyle Steigenga, using his basketball hops and timing to pile up TDs. In his first high school football game, Pearl was a bright spot in a big loss to Paw Paw with four catches for 73 yards and a TD. Obviously behind from a football perspective, but Pearl has tools that will intrigue college coaches, such as his 6-8 wingspan and 30″ standing vertical.
Jon Wassink 6-3 190 Sr QB Grand Rapids South Christian Western Michigan
There was a sense on the Grand Rapids Christian side of the stands that Wassink might have had a magical comeback from a 21-0 deficit last Friday, but that never came to pass as the Eagles beat South Christian for the fourth year in a row 28-14. Despite that streak it was GR Christian playing with the edge of the underdogs, and put pressure on Wassink all night. When he ran the ball Wassink did fine, a game-high 116 yards. It was when he threw it under duress that the mechanics and decision-making suffered, including a pick. He was 14-of-27 for 179 yards passing with two TDs, one of them 51 yards to senior Ryan Veenstra who made a tough catch. When he did have time, Wassink made legit college throws able to put it through traffic to tight targets. South needs more production from the wide receivers, as senior running back Geff Plasman was the most reliable target.
Class of 2016
James Haverkamp 6-5 247 Jr OL Grand Rapids Christian
Haverkamp has some big cleats to fill. He’s GR Christian’s starting left tackle in the stead of Tommy Doles, who has matriculated to Northwestern. Doles may have been the best overall football player in the Lake Area in 2013. Haverkamp doesn’t have that kind of talent. But he has the frame and coaching to project as guys like current seniors like Greenville’s Steve Eipper and Kenowa Hills’ Derek Smith, both CMU commitments. Haverkamp is long and used his hands well, needs more consistent pad level and to develop some nasty. The Eagles’ line should continue to improve as Havercamp is one of four solid juniors along with 6-4, 265 Ben Hoerle at right guard and 5-9, 215 linebacker Kaelin Hopson at left guard and 6-1, 205 junior Osman Biango at right tackle.
Garret Lundteigen 5-9 165 Jr WR/DB Petoskey
The son of Petoskey ski coach Erik Lundteigen, and a member of that state championship team himself, Garret may have well been on skis the way his 4.5 speed blew through the Sault during the Northmen’s 53-14 win in the UP. That one opened with a 75-yard kickoff return TD from Lundteigen. He also had a 69-yard catch-and-run TD, a 56-yard TD run and made two interceptions. The Northmen’s offense should be as dangerous as ever, with Lundteigen and another 4.5 threat, senior running back Kurt Boucher, at the disposal of the Lake Area’s top junior QB Evan Whitmore.
Zach VanValkenburg 6-4 230 Jr LB Zeeland West
He’s transitioned seemingly easily from a starting D end on Zeeland West’s state championship team to their middle linebacker in the opener with Detroit Country Day. We really like how he flowed to the ball. Unlike when these teams met last year, DCD had the bigger and faster team. But not better football players, and this junior was a blanket in the middle of the field as the Dux’s D didn’t let the Yellowjackets release any game-breakers. His most startling play saw VanValkenburg, after a bad snap, run down Country Day’s QB leveling him with one arm from behind for a 17-yard, third-down loss. As three-sport athlete VanValkenburg matures at the position and is able to play freely and deliver with more finishing power, he could be the next Carter Masek out of the Lake Area.
Evan Whitmore 6-3 185 Jr QB Petoskey
His upside is huge, as he has all the physical tools and intangibles and is just getting started. This is only Whitmore’s second season playing quarterback, and his first he did it as a varsity starting sophomore. Petoskey will always make hay with their monotously prolific double-wing, but Whitmore’s talents are too evident to not take advantage of them. Look for him to expound upon his 2013 numbers of 32-57 passing for 615 yards and seven TDs. In the Northmen’s opening win at Sault Ste. Marie, he threw for four TDs. He puts up a strong ball with little strain, and places it well, and runs with 4.6 speed. Whitmore is the top 2016 QB prospect in the Lake Area.
James Wyrick 5-9 190 Jr RB Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills
He was one of the state’s most productive underclassman backs in 2013 with over 1,000 yards (albeit it nearly a quarter of those in just one game with Holland) and 11 TDs. Wyrick knows what he’s doing back there, is patient with blocking, and rarely goes down with the first hit. He fights for the first-down flat or end zone pylon. He’s shifty with good but not elite speed, so Wyrick will have to keep working on his blocking, receiving to become a complete back for the college level.
Class of 2017
Davaunte Dickens 5-10 225 RB/LB Grand Rapids Christian
He looked like an East Grand Rapids back in his varsity debut, running seven time for 41 yards and two TDs in the Eagles’ win over South Christian. He did a good job as an outlet for backup QB Patrick Hall, who came in and played with poise after starter Lukas Thompson was injured. What makes Dickens a legit prospect is how light on his feet he is for his size, which were evident on his 24-yard TD run. Dickens went both ways against South Christian, recovering a fumble, and another promising sophomore started with him on defense, cornerback Tahari Braggs.
Honest minds know that the best high school football in Michigan is played in the Grand Rapids-Muskegon area. It will be apparent again Thursday and Friday as this season kicks off with some East vs. West games. Predicted winners are bold.
Canton @ West Ottawa: WO dropped this opener last year, but home field could be the edge here.
Detroit Catholic Central @ Muskegon: If CC, now in Novi, moves much more West, it will be in our coverage area someday. Two of the state’s legendary programs meet, and blue collar trumps Oakland County suburbs.
Detroit Country Day @ Zeeland West: Just like last year, Zeeland West will be too strong, too fast for Chris Webber’s alma mater.
Detroit Loyola @ Zeeland East: Loyola may only be Division 7, but the Bulldogs are two-time state runners-up at that level.
Muskegon Mona Shores @ Saline: Saline has one of the state’s top defensive backs in Tyrone Miller, who has offers from half the MAC. He’ll see first-hand a guy who will be one of the top QB’s in the league in a few years, Mona’s/Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson.
Utica Eisenhower @ Rockford: The Rams won this one last year at Ike, too.
Class of 2015
Wesley French 6-5 295 Sr DL St. Joseph
Some have him on the offensive line, we like French better defensively. He has the size and demeanor to thrive at tackle. French plays with an edge and is explosive in short space. He has offers from Ball State, Buffalo, CMU, Toledo and WMU. Some good early video and French, the Lake Area’s No. 2 ranked senior, could solidfy Big Ten interest.
Class of 2015 Defensive Line Top 10
1. Wesley French 6-5 295 Sr St. Joseph
2. Bryce Witham 6-4 240 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
3. Matt Seybert 6-4 230 Sr Traverse City St. Francis
4. Jarrad Whited 6-2 225 Sr Vicksburg
5. Kasey DeWitt 6-4 220 Sr Shelby
6. Mike Egeler 6-4 225 Sr Comstock Park
7. Zach Hellman 6-4 220 Sr Muskegon Mona Shores
8. Malik Swain 6-2 300 Sr Grand Rapids Kenowa Hill
9. Victor Williams 6-2 270 Sr East Grand Rapids
10. Tommy Brown 6-2 265 Sr Grand Rapids Northview
Jacob Geter 5-8 170 RB Plainwell
From a school known for its size and power football, Plainwell’s top college prospect is a scat back and kick-returner. What makes Geter so good is he thinks he’s the biggest kid on the field. Oh, that and 4.37 40 speed. He’s explosive, quick and shifty. Geter’s .m.o. is common among the Lake Area’s top senior running backs, as the 2015 class leans to small and fast over power runners.
Class of 2015 Running Back Top 10
1. Ethan Campbell 5-9 185 Sr Traverse City Central
2. Dereko Riley 5-7 170 Sr Muskegon Reeths-Puffer
3. Jacob Geter 5-8 170 Sr Plainwell
4. Marty Ward 5-9 210 Sr Niles Brandywine
5. Jarod Rodgers 6-0 205 Sr Byron Center
6. Geff Plasman 5-11 180 Sr Grand Rapids South Christian
7. Corey Westra 5-9 175 Sr Zeeland East
8. Lasevean Majewski 5-9 185 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
9. Eddie Kelly 6-0 205 Sr Caledonia
10. Jon Green 5-7 175 Sr Reed City
Trevor Raby 6-4 240 Sr TE/OL Zeeland West
Despite defending the Division 3 state championship, Zeeland West didn’t get much preseason respect from the Detroit Media Mafia. They’ll get reacquainted soon enough, when Detroit Country Day calls in the score from today’s sure to be butt-whoopin’ on the Westside. It will happen because of players like Raby, a standout tackle in 2013 who will move one spot over and try his hand at tight end as a senior. He’s not the next Jordan VanDort and doesn’t have to be. Raby is an athletic technician who is a top 10 senior prospect at two positions, tight end and offensive line.
Class of 2016
Michael VanHoeven 6-5 277 Jr OL Paw Paw
VanHoeven was already an all-conference guard after his sophomore season, and has put on 20 pounds since. That’s going to be a problem for the Wolverin B, as he’s a big hitter and plays through the whistle. The Lake Area is loaded with linemen for the 2016 class. Everyone knows about No. 1 Thiyo Lukusa, with offers from UM, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Lukusa’s Traverse City West teammate, Jake Cerny, has offers from CMU and WMU and will get BCS attention, and we have VanHoeven standwiched between that Big North pair in the rankings.
Class of 2016 Offensive Line Top 10
1. Thiyo Lukusa 6-5 300 Jr Traverse City West
2. Michael VanHoeven 6-5 277 Jr Paw Paw
3. Jake Cerny 6-5 280 Jr Traverse City West
4. Juanye Johnson 6-5 275 Jr Muskegon
5. Trenton Fincher 6-9 300 Jr East Kentwood
6. Derices Brown 6-1 257 Jr Muskegon
7. Karson Murley 6-3 275 Jr Lowell
8. Carl Myers 6-2 250 Jr Grand Rapids West Catholic
9. Kyle Augustine 6-3 305 Jr Gaylord
10. James Havercamp 6-5 247 Jr Grand Rapids Christian
Muskegon has played in two straight state title games and don’t be surprised if there’s another thanks in no small part to the Big Reds veteran offensive line, including a couple of D1 prospects in the junior class Juanye Johnosn and Dereices Brown. They’ll be blocking for a new quarterback with Deshuan Thrower having matriculated to college basketball, but top running back Caleb Washington and receiver Joeviair Kennedy are both back. Linebacker TJ Smith is the top returning tackler and Alezay Coleman holds down the defensive backfield. They’ll have even more responsibility and be tested without Kenneth Finley up front. The Mona Shores games could be interesting, but other than that Muskegon won’t be tested in the O-K Black — which is saying something because it’s not a weak league at all with four playoff teams in 2013. The non-conference schedule is a diffent story, as it includes Detroit Catholic Central, Grand Rapids Christian and East Grand Rapids.
2. Zeeland West
This is simply one of the state’s elite programs, operating at full capacity under a hall of fame coach. If their season holds to form, they’ll embarrass Detroit Country Day Thursday before rolling the O-K Green, with an intriguing out-of-league respite at Comstock Park. Despite graduating the Lake Area’s best tight end and running back, Jordan VanDort and Danny Bauder, respectively, coach John Shilito’s defending Division 3 state champion will again contend. The offensive line is veteran and athletic, with the top returning lineman, senior Trevor Raby, moving to tight end. Senior Smith Saenbouttarath is the Dux top two-way lineman. Junior Casey Brinks returns at QB. He handled the ball in the wing T deftly as an underclassman. The big-break backs this fall are senior Nick Jasch who has 4.6 speed and junior Dakota Geurink. Junior linebacker Zach VanValkenburg is one of the Lake Area’s top college prospects in the 2016 class.
The Rams’ defense carried them to a fifth-straight O-K Red crown (5-0) in 2013 despite numerous injuries. Brent Showers and Randy Garvin are gone so the onus will switch to the offense. Rockford will as always be a big-school state powerhouse, though their non-conference schedule got easier without Muskegon bringing a respite to one of the Lake Area’s best (certainly best-attended) rivalries.
4. Grand Rapids South Christian
The Sailors are the Lake Area’s answer to Farmington Hills Harrison’s 2001 offensive juggernaut, with Jon Wassink playing the part of Drew Stanton. They should again get through the O-K Gold clean, but out of the league will have to really earn it early against Grand Rapids Christian — the only D to stymie South last year and winner of four straight against the Sailors — and Caledonia. Wassink has his primary weapons back and they’ll be able to score with anyone. It was the defense that ultimately caught up with them in 2013, surrendering 49 points to Marine City in the Division 4 state final. They have the horsepower for a third-straight trip to Ford Field, led by the Lake Area’s top QB, WMU commitment Wassink. He’ll play toss and catch all day with a pair of big, talented receivers Sam Heyboer and Eric VanVorst, countering with 1,000 yard back Geff Plasman. All this while operating behind a line that includes three third-year starters Mitch Quakkelaar, Casey Elzinga and Brandon Huyser.
5. Muskegon Mona Shores
It’s high times for Mona’s program after making the playoffs for the first time, ever, last season. 2013 should see Mona fighting it out with Muskegon for the O-K Black crown. Before the league season begins, they’ll need to win three of their first four — Saline, Fruitport, Rockford, Caledonia — to justify this ranking. Like South Christian, Mona will be an aerial display thanks to an elite senior QB, in this case Buffalo-bound Tyree Jackson. With a playoff run, he could approach 100 career TDs. He has myriad weapons including an explosive junior receiver in Hunter Broesma and one of the Lake Area’s sleeper senior prospects in running back DeOntay Moffett. The Sailors aren’t just a 7-on-7 squad though. Defensive linemen like senior Zach Hellman and junior Christian Boyd.
It was a great program win for Hudsonville to beat Rockford for a Division 1 regional championship in 2013. A repeat isn’t out of the question, as this is a typical Eagles team with a lot of overall side, and the bonus of Mason Opple returning at QB. He’s not just one of the best quaterbacks in the Lake Area, but one of the best flat out football players. The program’s continuity will really help in the O-K Red. Coach Dave Lidgaard is the second-longest tenured coach in the league after only hall of famer Ralph Munger at Rockford. Three O-K Red schools have first-year head coaches. The out-of-league slate is respectable but not outrageous: Holt, the long trek to Traverse City West, and Grand Rapids Christian.
7. Grand Rapids Christian
GR Christian learned a year ahead of schedule what it was like to play without Drake Harris, and still went 8-3 in 2013. As always, Christian rolls out a bunch of future college talent. There are a lot of new faces on both lines, but the offensive and defensive backfields are veteran with the likes of Malick McLaughlin, Qi’ante Ewing, Jack Bates and Gabe Andree, the Lake Area’s top cornerback. The Eagles’ schedule is beyond legit. Their three non-conference opponents — No. 3 South Christian, No. 1 Muskegon and No. 7 Hudsonville — all reached at least the regoinal finals in 2013. And that’s
This ranking would seem low giving Lowell’s history, including an undefeated regular season in 2013, but there are a lot of unknowns, and a quick learning curve in the rugged O-K White which begins week 2 with an East Grand Rapids team out to prove something.
9. West Ottawa
West Ottawa seems often on the verge, but just can’t quite break through. It’s the same karma as the basketball team, which has never won a district. There’s enough depth and talent on the Northside to compete with anyone in the Lake Area. eniors James Lacy and Christian Rodino are a dangerous pair of running backs, and first-year QB Caleb McNitt could be WO’s answer to Mason Opple.
Cal can’t be ranked any higher because the schedule is about as tough as you’ll fine. In addition to being in the thick of the Lake Area’s strongest league, the O-K White, they face they face the top two QBs, South Christian’s Jon Wassink and Mona Shores’ Tyree Jackson. Tom Burrill is back to coach the Scots and inherits a typical Caledonia roster, not big kids but athletic and tough. Seniors like linebackers Eddie Kelly and Michael Andrusiak, defensive back Logan Soule and QB Kobe Wilson are all college prospects.
- 11. East Kentwood
- 12. Portage Central
- 13. Traverse City Central
- 14. East Grand Rapids
- 15. Allendale
- 16. Traverse City West
- 17. Portage Northern
- 18. Comstock Park
- 19. St. Joseph
- 20. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central
- 21. Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills
- 22. Grand Rapids Catholic Central
- 23. Stevensville Lakeshore
- 24. Paw Paw
- 25. Petoskey
DL Wesley French 6-5 295 Sr St. Joseph
DL Noah Foss 6-3 270 Sr Rockford
DL Smith Saenbouttarath 6-0 270 Sr Zeeland West
LB TJ Smith 6-0 200 Sr Muskegon
LB Carter Masek 6-3 235 Sr East Grand Rapids
LB Mason Dekker 5-11 212 Sr West Ottawa
LB Jack Bates 6-3 230 Sr Grand Rapids Christian
DB Eric VanVoorst 6-3 180 Sr Grand Rapids South Christian
DB Zach McGuire 6-1 190 Sr Traverse City West
DB Alezay Coleman 5-9 175 Sr Muskegon
DB Dereko Riley 5-7 170 Sr Muskegon Reeths-Puffer
DL Bryce Witham 6-4 240 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
DL Kasey DeWitt 6-4 220 Sr Shelby
DL Dillon Thompson 6-0 240 Sr Elk Rapids
DL Dakota Scholten 6-4 220 Sr Grant
LB Kenneth Willekes 6-2 200 Sr Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christain
LB Lamar Jordan 5-11 185 Sr Muskegon Catholic Central
LB Jason Nash 6-4 190 Sr Decatur
DB Quincy Collings 5-11 170 Sr Hopkins
DB Luke Sage 6-0 185 Jr Boyne City
DB Jason McDonough 5-11 165 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
DB Preston Huckaby 6-0 185 Sr Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian
QB Jon Wassink 6-2 185 Sr Grand Rapids South Christian
OL Jon Keenoy 6-3 285 Sr East Kentwood
OL Thiyo Lukusa 6-5 300 Jr Traverse City West
OL Michael VanHoeven 6-5 277 Jr Paw Paw
OL Bryce Wilker 6-5 280 Sr Belding
OL Jake Cerny 6-5 280 Jr Traverse City West
RB Jarod Rodgers 6-0 205 Sr Byron Center
RB Geff Plasman 5-11 180 Sr Grand Rapids South Christian
TE Trevor Raby 6-4 240 Sr Zeeland West
WR Nate Couturier 5-10 150 Sr Allendale
WR Joeviair Kennedy 6-3 190 Sr Muskegon
QB Adam Trautman 6-5 210 Sr Elk Rapids
OL Michael Caughey 6-0 225 Sr Muskegon Catholic Central
OL DeKurtis Murphy 6-5 295 Sr Lake Michigan Catholic
OL TJ Patterson 6-3 260 Sr Reed City
OL Tony Curry 6-5 300 Sr Muskegon Oakridge
OL Cole VanOosten 6-7 270 Sr Kalamazoo United
RB Marty Ward 5-9 210 Sr Niles Brandywine
RB Justin Hull 5-9 175 Sr Constantine
RB Lasavian Majewski 5-7 190 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
TE Matt Seybert 6-4 230 Sr Traverse City St. Francis
WR Shane Rodenburg 6-0 175 Sr Kent City
1. Jon Wassink 6-2 190 Sr Grand Rapids South Christian Western Michigan
In a brutal 2013 in Kalamazoo, Western Michigan’s quarterbacks were as problematic as everything else, with 12 TDs to 18 interceptions. Clearly QB was a position of need, and the Broncos brought in Sturgis’ Chance Stewart this fall, and next season will add another talented signal caller in Wassink. He can throw, he can run, and best of all, he wins. He’s led South Christian to consecutive Division 4 state finals. As a junior he threw for 2,178 yards and 16 TDs and rushed for 696 yards and 16 more TDs.
2. Tyree Jackson 6-4 190 Sr Muskegon Mona Shores Buffalo
It’s no coincidence that Jackson’s quarterback tenure — he’s a fourth-year starter — coincided with unprecedented success for Mona Shores, including the schools’ first-ever playoff appearance in 2013. He’s matured physically and can now make all the throws. Jackson’s 31 passing touchdowns were the sixth-best single-season total in Lake Area history.
3. Adam Trautman 6-5 210 Sr Elk Rapids
Apparently they do do it bigger and better in Texas, as this Lone Star State native looks the part more than any other QB is the Lake Michigan Area. Tall, strong and lanky, he gives the look of an old school pocket gunner but with enough wiggle he can leave the pocket to make plays as well. He runs a 4.7 40 with that big frame. As a junior Trautman had the most prolific passing season in Elk Rapids history, throwing for 1,421 yards and 17 TDs while also running for seven scores. Good grades make him that much more recruit-able.
4. Andrew Duckett 6-1 185 Sr Niles Brandywine
Easily the fastest member of this quarterback group, as Duckett runs a 4.4 40. More evidence of those wheels? Duckett was state champion in the 300-meter hurdles, and all-state in the 110. He’s not just running around out there though. This lefty can throw it too, handles the ball well in play action, is strong enough to throw against his body and keys the offense of one of the Lake Area’s most talented small school teams.
5. Travis Russell 6-2 190 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
Russell is a game manager who when he doesn’t have to overextend himself, he’s more efficient and West Catholic wins. And wins big, he’s the only QB on this list to have won a state championship game. Russell had his best dual-threat game in the Division 5 final against Menominee, throwing for 176 yards and two TDs and running for 106 yards and a TD. 2013 was the second straight season Russell has thrown for over 2,400 yards, and added 21 TDs while running for 610 yards and 10 scores.
6. Brandon Childress 6-3 180 Sr Baldwin
With multiple D1 offers in basketball, Childress is one of the state’s top three-sport athletes (he also plays baseball) and a problem on the football field for small school competition. As a junior he both passed and rushed for over 1,000 yards apiece.
7. Kyle Friberg 6-2 175 Sr East Kentwood
East Kentwood has yet another new coach. Luckily for the Falcons Friberg is sharp enough to help ease the transition. He has a good arm and 4.7 speed and what you like about him, he just turn over the ball. Friberg had just one pick in 2013 while throwing for 1,745 yards and 13 TDs. He plays behind a strong line and has some talented weapons at his disposal. He would be that much more dangerous if EK can run the ball better than they have recently.
8. Mason Opple 6-3 207 Sr Hudsonville
If you’re looking at mechanics, aesthetics, somone who will look good throwing in a combine setting, Opple may not be your guy. Put on the pads, need someone to lead a fourth quarter drive, and he is your guy. Tebow-type playmaker as a big, physical runner with 4.6 speed. Opple starred on Hudsonville’s 2013 postseason run to the Division 2 semifinals. On the season he threw for 16 TDs and ran for 13.
9. Jay Doll 6-0 190 Sr Paw Paw
A dangerous spread quarterback. His junior numbers — 1,800 yards, 20 TDs — are impressive enough, and more so as they came in just seven games before he broke his collarbone. He can run the ball too because Doll is both quick and fast. After Duckett the fastest player on this list, running a 4.5 40.
10. Keagan James 6-2 210 Sr Central Montcalm
Not quite Jalen Brooks running the ball, but James is deceptive with great vision and on on track for his third 1,000-yard rushing seaon. He’s smart and well-versed in CM’s no-huddle offense with a good not great run who can place it and has touch on timing routes. In 2013 James threw for 704 yards and six TDs while running for 1,147 and 12 TDs.
Here comes the other half of our theoretical college team, the top defensive players whose high school roots are in the Lake Area.
DT Damon Knox 6-5 280 Jr Michigan State (Muskegon)
His redshirt sophomore season was Knox’ first as a regular. He had 22 tackles (2 1/2 for loss) for Michigan State’s Big Ten and Rose Bowl championship team. He was a projected starter this season but is curretnly out with an injury.
DE Anthony Zettel 6-4 279 Jr Penn State (West Branch Ogemaw Heights)
He’s moving inside for new Penn State coach James Franklin, who wants Zettel up to 285. In 2013 he played every game at defensive end, including two starts. For our theortical scheme here, we’ll use him as a 5 technique. One of Z’s two starts was against U-M, and Zettel had his lone career interception. He had four sacks and six tackles for loss as a redshirt soph.
DE Justin Zimmer 6-3 255 Jr Ferris State (Greenville)
Zimmer was a high school middle linebacker at Greenville who the Bulldogs kept at home and now he’s caught the NFL’s attention as a pass-rusher. His first season starting came as a redshirt sophomore, earning Zimmer All-GLIAC honors leading Ferris with 7 1/2 sacks and 10 1/2 tackles for loss. He also returned an interception for a touchdown.
LB Desmond Morgan 6-1 232 Sr Michigan (West Ottawa)
He’s contributed since he was a true freshman and has started over 30 games for the Wolverines. As a junior Morgan had 79 tackles, including 4 1/2 for loss, and an interception. With Jake Ryan moving to middle linebacker, the big hitter out of West Ottawa will move back to the weakside.
LB Brad Horling 6-2 215 Jr Grand Valley State (Zeeland East)
He’s moving to linebacker for Grand Valley after playing his first two seasons as a Lakers strong safety. Despite a broken hand, in 2013 Horling had 55 tackles while intercepting a pass and breaking up three others.
LB Morgan Stenz 6-0 214 Sr Northern Michigan (Alpena)
A quarterback as well during his Big North days, this will be his second season starting in Marquette. As a redshirt junior, Stenz was second in tackles for NMU with 82 tackles. Stenz had two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.
LB Trent Voss 6-3 220 Jr Toledo (East Grand Rapids)
His second season as a regular started quite well for Voss. He had 33 tackles, including 5 1/2 behind the line, before getting hurt in the Rockets’ seventh game.
DB Justin Currie 6-2 204 Sr Western Michigan (Big Rapids)
A rare Lake Area recruit for the Broncos’ previous coaching regime, the new staff is glad to have him. Had WMU won more, Currie would have been a no-contest All-MAC pick after a junior season in which he led WMU with 113 tackles (7 1/2 for loss) and interceptions with three. Currie had 98 tackles as a sophomore.
DB Major Metcalf 6-2 220 Sr Saginaw Valley State (Muskegon Catholic Central)
Linebacker-sized safety who as a redshirt junior had 56 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and fumble recovery. Metcalf was an all-stater on Muskegon Catholic Central’s undefeated 2008 stae championship team.
DB Daniel Pittman 6-0 196 Sr Hillsdale (Grand Rapids West Catholic)
He was a star on West Catholic’s 2010 state championship team who hasn’t missed a stride, as this will be Pittman’s fourth season as a Chargers’ starting cornerback. In 2013 he led Hillsdale’s defensive backfield with 42 solo tackles and 11 pass breakups.
DB Devonte’ Jones 5-10 185 Sr Grand Valley State (St. Joseph)
He should be one of the top cornerbacks in the GLIAC. He started a dozen games as a redshirt junior, and made four interceptions. Jones also had 53 tackles and a fumble recovery.
As the high school season starts, one can’t but help and link it to the similarly approaching college season. With that in mind we look at the top Lake Area high school alumni now playing at the next level.
OT Jake Fisher 6-6 299 Sr Oregon (Traverse City West)
NFL.Com says the Ducks have the third most Draft-able team in college football. Fisher is in that mix as an athletic fourth-year senior and three-year starter. He went out to Oregon as a TC West tight end but has been a right tackle ever since. Fisher is all kinds of athlete, helping QB Marcus Mariota pile up Heisman numbers. With more consistency and better pass blocking, Fisher is first-team Pac-12 material (he was honorable mention as a sophomore and junior) and will have his named called early next April.
OT Jack Conklin 6-6 303 So Michigan State (Plainwell)
In those same NFL.Com Draft talent rankings, MSU is No. 4 behind the aforementioned Ducks. Conklin is just another example of the Spartans staff’s ability to recruit without the distraction of star rankings and turn these “nobodies” into pros. The son of Plainwell head coach Darren Conklin, Jack signed with Michigan State in the spring of his senior year in 2012. By the fall of 2013, he was MSU’s starting right then left tackle and eventually a freshman All-American on a Rose Bowl champion. Now a redshirt sophomore down 30 pounds from last season, Conklin is on the Outland Trophy Watch List.
C Connor Kruse 6-5 325 Sr Michigan State (Lowell)
Kruse is MSU’s first-team right guard, but for our purposes penciled in at center, a position he’s seen time at in the past. Kruse walked on in East Lansing after a state championship and two all-state seasons at Lowell. He’s been a scholarship player since the 2012 season.
OG Jon Ackley 6-3 292 Jr Albion (North Muskegon)
This right guard was Albion’s rookie of the year as a freshman in 2012. He moved to left tackle in 2013 and was first-team All-MIAA. To make this theoretically loaded lineup replete with potential pros, Ackley will move back to guard.
OG Parker Ehinger 6-7 292 Jr Cincinnati (Rockford)
Another lanky Rockford lineman who pulls well, Ehinger found his way onto the field in 2012 when Cincinnati’s starting right tackle was injured and started 10 games. He played both right side spots as a redshirt sophomore on Cincinnati’s 9-4 team.
QB Tyler VanTubbergen 6-3 198 Sr Western Michigan (West Ottawa)
The redshirt senior is second on WMU’s depth chart heading into the fall. In 2013 VanTubbergen started six games before injuring his shoulder, completing 82-of-183 throws for 930 yards and four TDs.
RB Bronson Hill 5-10 215 Sr Eastern Michigan (Grand Rapids Catholic Central)
Over the last half century, few Lake Area schools have put out like Catholic Central has across generations. Hill set the CC record for single-season rushing TDs as a senior. He hasn’t been quite prolific in the MAC, but he’s certainly been good. As a junior he ran for 1,100 yards (a hefty 5.6 yards per carry) and 5 TDs. It had been a decade since an EMU runner reached the millenial lark. Over the past two seasons he’s put together 2,389 yards total offense and 13 TDs. He’ll have an NFL shot.
RB Kitwana Clark 5-8 190 So Ferris State (Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills)
Sharing time his first season at Ferris with another former Lake Area standout, Jamaal Jackson a senior from St. Joseph, Clark showed flashes of what made him so special at Kenowa Hills. On just 45 carries he ran for 308 yards and four TDs.
FB Joe Kerridge 6-0 244 Jr Michigan (Traverse City St. Francis)
He was a scoring machine for St. Francis’ back-to-back state championship teams who has transitioned to being a blocker and occasional pass catcher in Ann Arbor. The redshirt junior started seven games for Michigan in 2013, in addition to special teams duties. Kerridge was twice named Academic All-Big Ten.
TE Jamie Potts 6-3 225 Jr Grand Valley State (Muskegon Oakridge)
This one-time Oakridge quarterback is as good an athlete as you’ll find from the Lake Area regardless of college level. Potts was as first-team Division 2 All-American as both a tight end then in baseball as an outfield for the Lakers. 2013 was the most prolific pass-catching season by a tight end in Grand Valley State history, as Potts had 54 catches for 900 yards and 11 TDs.
WR Matt Kroll 6-2 190 Jr Hope (Grand Haven)
He came from one of the Lake Area’s most pass-friendly offenses in the next town up from Hope, Grand Haven, and in 2014 will provide a veteran target for a new Flying Dutchman QB. As a sophomore Kroll had 24 catches for 338 yards and five TDs.
It took him a minute to adjust to the speed of his receivers; and then again to the speed of the defenders. But apparently this rising freshman is a quick study in addition to showing a live arm. No promises, but good chance you’ll be hearing about Barlow down the line. He’ll have a couple varsity years with a talented target who played well at the combine himself, 5-11, 175 St. Joseph soph receiver Brandon Green.