Class of 2014
Jake Bush 5-10 180 Sr Comstock Park
Bush is a big play waiting to happen. He bides his time, reads his blocks, then accelerates from patience to breakaway putting defenders on their heels. Terrific stop-start, change-of-direction back in the open field. Good receiver out of the backfield. He ran for 161 yards and three TDs in Comtock Park’s 30-7 win over previously unbeaten Belding. Bush is clearly one of the Lake Area’s elite running backs in 2014.
Lake Area’s Top 10 2014 Running Backs
1. Spencer Viening 6-2 220 Sr Zeeland East
2. Jake Bush 5-10 175 Sr Comstock Park
3. Neil McCully 6-0 195 Sr Belding
4. Zach Walker 6-0 190 Sr Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central
5. Dominic Paiz 5-8 175 Sr Grand Rapids Christian
6. Marcus Lambert 5-11 195 Sr Zeeland West
7. Mike Miklusicak 5-8 187 Sr Wayland
8. Julian Munday 6-0 205 Sr Muskegon Reeths-Puffer
9. David Evens 5-7 225 Sr East Grand Rapids
10. Jacob Allan 6-3 195 Sr Portage Central
Matt Capasso 6-3 230 Sr TE/DL Portage Central
While Hunter Lassiter, who has committed to CMU as a likely offensive linemen, is Portage Central’s best-known tight end, there’s another good one starting on the other end in Capasso. He’s a good blocker with some wheels and a motor, and decent hands when given the chance. Unlike Lassiter, Capasso goes both ways for undefeated Portage Central. He’s a slick defensive end, but needs to finish plays with more power and explosion.
Quinton Sweeney 6-3 220 Sr LB/TE Wayland
Backbone of the turnaround at Wayland, which has gone from 0-9 in 2012 to a competitive 2-3, including a close loss Saturday at Zeeland West. Sweeney did a great job dialing in on the fullback in Zeeland West’s Wing-T, as did teammate Mike Miklusicak on halfback Danny Bauder. Wayland’s D kept the Dux’ explosive offense to “merely” consistently productive, and had a chance. Sweeney is a middle linebacker, like a bigger, faster version of Derek Diver, who we loved last year for Traverse City West. At the next level could do a lot of things with Q, including, with his 4.8 speed and big butt, a down pass rusher.
Class of 2015
Mike Egeler 6-3 205 Jr Comstock Park
Last year, Egeler was a utility guy as a sophomore, chipping in on offense, defense, special teams, for one of the best squads in the Lake Area. As a junior, he seems to have found his niche as the left end understudy to CP’s right end, one of the best in the biz senior Ryan Gruzska (also a really good punter, “fwiw”). Egeler still brings versatility, lining up at everything from a 5 to a 9 technique. Can’t wait to see Egeler and Gruzska Friday against TC West’s massive offensive front.
John Keenoy 6-3 260 Jr OL East Kentwood
There were three legit, future college linemen in the EK-Grand Haven game. Keenoy and WMU commitment Elliot Jordan for home team East Kentwood, and Bucs’ junior Chase VanHoef. Keenoy, who started at left tackle for the Falcons with the 6-6, 260 EJ at right tackle before moving to center, was the most polished of the three; more efficient and consistent in his delivery. Keenoy was active, quick, planted well and also made some plays as a D lineman.
Corey Redman 6-5 180 Jr QB Boyne City
What kind of athlete is Redman? He’s already recruited and committed to one MAC school, CMU, for basketball, yet other MAC schools are still after him for football. And maybe a step above that, as more than any QB in the Lake Area he most resembles a traditional U-M pro-style passer — a lanky, poised game-manager with the arm to make all the throws. Redman doesn’t put up huge numbers in a traditionally conservative Boyne offense. He was 9-of-17 for 170 yards including a 78-yard TD in the Ramblers’ 27-14 win over Traverse City St. Francis. Most impressive was his composure and execution. Boyne City didn’t turn it over once against a St. Francis defense with at least two D1 commitments. Conversely, Boyne turned over the Glads five times. There’s no reason to think he won’t stick with the roundball down the line. But it’s hard for a coach and scout not to speculate and dream, what kind of quarterback would Redman be, if football weren’t just a hobby?
Bryce Wilker 6-6 280 Jr OL Belding
Up until being held to a single score at Comstock Park, Belding’s offense has been one of the Lake Area’s most prolific, with Wilker one of those up front clearing way for star senior running back Neil McCully. He’s the Redskins’ starting left tackle. Given Belding’s full backfield, Wilker is not surprisingly a better run than pass blocker. Can get to the second level and isn’t afraid to put his nose in there and do the dirty work. Needs to work on pad level, leverage and lower body strength to balance his wider upper body. Showed some potential in pass protect too, good job planting heels, needs to stay with rushers beyond the initial push. Strong, can redirect defenders with one hand. Like his field focus, improvement will hinge a lot on flexibility and fitness.
Class of 2016
Pat Naughton 6-1 190 So QB Comstock Park
He’s picked up where Just Win Jake Brown left things at Comstock Park — undefeated, 5-0 as a starting varsity QB. And Naughton’s done it against good competition — Forest Hills Northern, West Catholic, Allendale and Belding. He was 9-of-22 for 115 yards and a TD against Belding. To make it 6-0, CP will have to beat Division 1 Traverse City West on Friday. When he’s not rushed, maintains the pocket so he can plant and follow through unhurried, he has a real nice ball. But Naughton is also likely to be rolling right, locking into a receiver then making throws that test his arm strength, into the teeth of the defense. Hard to blame him, when you have a target like Drake Baar at receiver can see how a QB would get greedy. CP is best, though, when Jake Bush is the offensive feature. Which is what’s best for Naughton as a sophomore — facilitate now, star when an upperclassman.
Malik Smith 5-8 180 So RB/LB Boyne City
You could make a sober claim that Smith, who we first noticed last year as a varsity freshman, was the best two-way player on the field in Boyne’s win over Traverse City St. Francis — including the Glads’ MSU commitment Byron Bullough. He took over the game in the second quarter, punching in a five-yard TD to put Boyne City up 14-0, before the linebacker recorded consecutive TFLs on TCSF’s ensuing possession. The Glads may have cool team gloves, but they couldn’t hold on to Mallik He ended up running for 226 yards and three TDs; workhorse back with balance, power and explosion between tackles, with impressive ball security given his load.