Class of 2013
Nate Jeppesen 6-4 265 Sr OL Portage Central
Portage Central had a heart-breaker last Friday, losing 41-40 at Stevensville-Lakeshore. But at least, for the first time this season, the 3-1 Mustangs put their best team on the field. The Lakeshore game marked the return of Jeppesen, who had missed the first three games with that long-time high school season killder, mononucleosis. Jeppesen, who committed to Toledo, is one of the most athletic, versatile college-sized lineman in the Lake Michigan area. With him back in the lineup, against Lakeshore, Jacob Allan ran for 135 yards and two TDs, DeJuan James 87 yards and two TDs and QB Ryan Mergener 82 yards and a TD.
Matt Modreske 6-7 300 Sr OL Hopkins
The football commodity the Lake Michigan area produces most consistently is linemen. None of them were prep All-Americans. None of the five offensive linemen currently in the NFL even had Big 10 offers — Joe Staley (Rockford/CMU), Jared Veldheer (Forest Hills Northern/Hillsdale), Todd Herremans (Ravenna/SVSU), Joe Berger (Newaygo/Michigan Tech) and Cameron Bradfield (Grand Rapids Creston/GVSU). Such was the history and potential that saw us arrive last Friday to see Hopkins shut out Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 28-0. On Hopkins line at left tackle is one of those big, raw West Michigan boys, Matt Modreske standing a head taller than anyone else on the field. I liked how he got into the second level, and it looks like he’s been working on his body, with some triceps definition when he got in his three-point stance. Technique-wise is where Modreske has to improve, taking full advantage of his reach. Undefeated Hopkins plays with two tight ends and does nothing but run, so who knows what Modreske’s pass-blocking looks like. No one is promising a future like the five pros mentioned above. but he is a GLIAC project with big upside.
Plainwell tight ends
In the preseason, we ranked Plainwell tight end Tyler White the No. 5 senior prospect in the Lake’s area. Anyone who has looked for his stats since then, may think we’re crazy. He mostly blocks for the 3-1 Trojans. He’s ranked so optimistically because White, the one-time running back, “looks like you’re supposed to look,” as one college coach put it, 6-6, 240 and can move. He’s one of two senior tight end prospects for Plainwell, along with 6-4, 235 Chance Terry. MLive’s Scott DeCamp broke down how both affected the game in Plainwell’s 23-7 win over neighboring Otsego.
Andon Ware 5-11 170 Sr RB Baldwin
OK, enough blockers, how about a runner? Ware has been a one-man gang for Baldwin. He ran 14 times for 285 yards and three TDs and caught two passes for 49 yards and a TD last Friday in a rare, but emphatic, 48-13 win over Manistee Catholic Central. Ware is a GLIAC kid who MAC schools are starting to show interest in despite playing at a Class D school. He was a standout at our Traverse City combine in July, running a 4.6 40 with a 9’8 broad jump, 4.3 pro agility and 28.5″ vertical.
Class of 2014
Alec Stevens 6-5 265 OL West Branch Ogemaw Heights
Stevens isn’t as well-known as some junior linemen, because he was injured and didn’t make the summer camp circuit. He has the physical profile though — big, thick and square, but not fat. Michigan’s coaches have noticed, and Stevens was at the Big House for U-M’s win over UMass. The Lake Michigan area is just loaded up front in 2014, with what looks like at least seven BCS guys. Here are Lake Michigan’s top 10 linemen for — some go both ways, some are already specializing on one side of the ball:
- Jordan VanDort 6-6 290 Jr Zeeland West
- Kenneth Finley 6-4 265 Jr Muskegon
- Tommy Doles 6-5 240 Jr Grand Rapids Christian
- Alec Stevens 6-5 265 Jr West Branch Ogemaw Heights
- Nick Padla 6-5 265 Jr Berrien Springs
- Connor Hayes 6-3 290 Jr Traverse City West
- Jake Khoury 6-3 265 Jr Traverse City St. Francis
- Chris Hendricks 6-4 265 Jr Fruitport
- Austin Labus 6-6 270 Jr Portage Northern
- Tristen Fleet 6-3 275 Jr Mancelona
Will Hunt 5-11 Jr LB Muskegon
Part of the Muskegon Machine that is 4-0 against the state’s toughest schedule. Hunt is a smart football player that doesn’t stay blocked. He’s never the most athletic player on the field, but makes a lot of big plays. Hunt is a throwback linebacker with great instincts, the kind of kid who eats, sleeps and drinks football. He’s a D1 prosect with Big Ten and MAC interest.
Sticking with the lineman theme, the Big North has two potential standouts in the 2016 class — 6-2, 260 freshman Tommy Roush of Petoskey and 6-4, 270 freshman Thiyo Lukusa of Traverse City West. Both of these guys aren’t just pubescent freaks, they have legitimate athletic resumes. In July, Roush, the son of Petoskey track and field coach Kevin Roush, placed fifth in his age group nationally in the shot put and 12th in the hammer throw. For his part, Lukusa was the starting center for Parallel 45, one of the state’s top five 14U AAU basketball teams with a 39-7 spring record.