Lake Michigan Prospect Watch: Week 4

Labor Day had passed, game day temps dropped 20 degrees as the wind and rain came. Real football time, with real players, real prospects, emerging.

Class of 2013
Cadillac linemen: Jack Ford and Riley Norman
Cadillac unleashed the cave trolls on Petoskey’s heretofore stout offensive and defensive lines. Ford is 6-6, 270, Norman is 6-7, 315. Offensively, they cleared the way for junior QB Jalen Brooks to run for six TDs and nearly 300 yards. Defensively, they helped hold Petoskey’s typically potent running game to under 100 yards.  Ford is headed to Central Michigan. Norman is going to MSU to throw on the track team. If he ever has a change of heart, there’s NFL potential.

Daniel Green  6-0  290  Sr  DL  Grand Rapids West Catholic
Green was a one-man show on West Catholic’s line in their loss to Grand Rapids South Christian. He’s a force at defensive tackle who collapsed double-teams and still made the stop, and if going one-on-one was simply too quick and able to cleanly reach the backfield. Against most high school quarterbacks Green, who moonlights at guard, would’ve piled up some sacks, but Sailors sophomore Jon Wassink is no average QB with his quick release and escapability.

Nic Lamica  6-4  210  Sr  LB  Forest Hills Central
He’s so big and fluid with 4.7 speed, and plays with a motor, so Lamica is a play-maker on both sides of the ball. Against East Kentwood he scored two TDS, one as a tight end and one returning an interception (one of his two picks).

Class of 2013
Kyle Steigenga  6-4  175  Jr  WR  Holland Christian
Pure athlete who isn’t quite as fast as Drake Harris, but this fellow all-state basketball player has the body, ups and play-making ability in the air, similar. While he’s basically Maroon senior QB Ross Schreuer’s only legit weapon, Steigenga has already had two outstanding games. In the season opener he made nine catches for 152 yards and four TDs against Zeeland West, then last week against Hudsonville Unity caught four balls for 122 yards and two TDs.

Jalen Brooks  6-3  185  Jr  ATH  Cadillac
We had Brooks ranked Lake Michigan’s No. 7 2014 prospect in the preseason. That proved prescient, but even then may have been short-changing him considering what he did against Petoskey. The Vikings’ aforementioned leviathan line opened up the holes, then Brooks broke tackles to the pace of 26 carries for 294 yards and six TDs. It might’ve been worse if he hadn’t cramped up. All that running. It’s not all legs, though. Aside from the team work, Brooks spent 20 hours last week at home watching video to get ready for their Petoskey showdown. As his rep continues to grow, the GLIAC likes him as a QB, while bigger schools are looking at him as a DB. He’s very similar to Jamie Gasparella, South Lyon’s quarterback over a decade ago who became an All-American cornerback at Brown, only bigger.

Lineman in A2: Tommy Doles and Kenneth Finley
Doles, a 6-5, 240 junior from Grand Rapids Christian, and Finley, a 6-4, 255 junior from Muskegon. Both were guests at Michigan Stadium on Saturday. Ironically, these two play a bit like the Air Force linemen that nearly upset the Wolverines — smaller, but athletic, mobile hitters. Finley will be moving up with a bullet next week in our 2014 rankings. He’s a ball-hawk with a knack for getting to the quarterback. Friday in Muskegon’s win at Rockford, Finley led the Big Reds with eight tackles, including three behind the line, as they limited the Rams to 21 rushing yards. He’s athletic with good size so even though he’s a high school defensive end, he could transition to become a great outside liebacker at the next level. Stylistically, Finley reminds you of Clay Matthews, and he’ll likely end up Lake Michigan’s top defensive prospect in 2014.

2015 Watch
Two of Lake Michigan’s top young QBs, South Christian’s Jon Wassink and West Catholic’s Travis Russell, squared off Friday. With more talent around him, and no shortage of it himself in that arm, those legs, Wassink and South Christian came out with the better end on West Catholic’s field, 33-7. It was windy and rainy, far from ideal passing conditions. The wind seemed to affect Wassink’s ball more than the tighter rotation coming off of Russell. I’d like to see Wassink’s arm again in a more neutral environment. But what really makes this kid special right now is his poise, smarts and mobility. He can stay in the pocket and get the throw off just before taking a hit, or scramble and make throws on the move. Wassink, 6-2, 175, competed 12-of-23 throws against West Catholic for 148 yards and three TDs. For his part, Russell threw for 64 yards and ran for 47. He’s smaller than Wassink, so was most effective throwing when he was able to roll out and see the field.

2016 Watch
Playoff appearances were the norm during Dave Hills first tenure on Boyne City’s sidelines. Here we go again, in his first season back the Ramblers are halfway there, 3-0. And they won’t have to worry about the skill positions for awhile. Starting QB Corey Redman, who has committed to Central Michigan for basketball, is a sophomore, while emerging running back Malik Smith is just a freshman. In Boyne’s fortunate win Friday against Kalkaska, Smith turned in his second 100-yard rushing game of the young season, toting it 24 times for 108 yards and two TDs.

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