The Lake Michigan Football Report’s first birthday isn’t until next month, enough time for one more new adventure before Season 2 kicks off. Season 1 had us covering Lake Area prospects all the way down to Cincinnati, where Grand Rapids Christian played Cincinnati Moeller. This week’s Best of the Best Combine Tour will include a trip North on 75 to Cheboygan for Tuesday’s workout. The first of five stops is 5 pm Monday at Grand Rapids Christian. Our last two Grand Rapids events were loaded with scholarship talent and this one should be no different.
When you pull back the curtain, Northern Michigan is ripe with talent even beyond the regular Traverse City crop. Who will be the next David Walker (Harbor Springs/WMU), a small-town kid to get it done under the gun and parlay it into a college career? What better place to go for true North football than the Tip of the Mitt, home of Jack Coon’s long-time successful program at Cheboygan.
The next stops are Big Rapids Wednesday, small-school superpower Ithaca Friday and finally Monday, July 15 at Stevensville-Lakeshore, a school that isn’t just a perennial playoff participant but provides the bonus of one of the best stadium locales in Michigan, perfect for a July on the Big Lake.
As new talent and targets emerge, there are a few guys going in we’re curious to see. Chief amongst them are three talented QB/DB tweeners who we’ve liked in the past not just in camp settings but live games. In 2012, Lake City’s Drew Marion (6-1, 195) threw or ran for over 3,500 yards and nearly 60 TDs. He was the coaches’ consensus top then-junior QB at our March event in Grand Rapids. It wasn’t just as a signal caller, Marion turned in some legitimate athletic bona fides to make you think he could easily transition to safety.
Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian’s Nick Swore has similar size and athleticism at 6-2, 192. He was injured and only played defense when we saw NorthPointe against Hopkins last seasons, and he got in on a lot of plays. More recently at MSU’s 7-on-7 we liked his reads and break to the ball. Swore’s a coach’s son and it shows, in addition to the physical ability. He’ll be at Monday’s Grand Rapids combine.
Reed City Chad Samuels is helping his cause as a true QB after throwing well at the Traverse City camp in May. He moves well in the pocket, and he’d better at 6-0, 170. A dual threat in the field/books sense with a 3.9 gpa. Samuels and Marion will both be competing at Wednesday’s Big Rapids combine.
As we kick off our “Best of the Best” Football Combine Tour on Monday, July 8th, we’re bringing you another inside feature on some of the top pre-registered players at each event. Stay up-to-date on this exciting week of combine events as we provide coverage at each tour stop. For our second installment, we look at a defensive end who’s making his presence felt on the field – and off.
The last time we saw 2014 DE Jacob Howe (Forest Hills Northern), he was dominating offensive linemen with an array of moves and an All-Combine performance at our March combine in Grand Rapids. That performance came on the heels of a stellar showing at our Senior Exposure Camp in December, where he was one of the few juniors who attended, and a strong 2012 high school season. Howe notched an impressive 78 total tackles including 14 tackles for loss and 4 sacks at the DE position. He also showed some offensive flash and found the end zone eight times at FB.
Howe’s stock has continued to rise off the field as he was selected to participate in the NFL-Wharton Prep Leadership Program last month – an honor afforded to only 18 male high school student-athletes in the entire country. The program recognizes student-athletes who have demonstrated high athletic, academic, and leadership achievements. Staff for the three day program included former NFL player and current lead studio analyst for CBS Sports, Spencer Tillman, and James Harris, former NFL player and current Football Operations Chief of Staff for the Philadelphia Eagles, among others.
Howe said the program connected him with other stand-out football players from throughout the country and changed his point of view on competition and leadership. “Almost all of the guys were football players, some of which were committed to Auburn, Purdue and a few others,” Howe said. “Hanging out with them and learning how their teams worked and how they acted as captains was really cool. I realized how when you’re playing in a football game or really any sporting event, the person on the other side of the ball is just like you are.”
Look for Jacob Howe to be back aggravating O-linemen on Monday, July 8th, at our “Best of the Best” tour stop in Grand Rapids. With another strong performance here against some of the best prospects in the state, Howe will look to solidify himself as one of the state’s best defensive linemen.
To see the complete list of tour stops & learn how to take part in this exciting event, click below: