Combine some descendants of large nationalities in West Michigan; country strong farm stock; good coaching with winning programs; and an ethos that would rather do it than talk about it, not surprisingly the Lake Area consistently produces college and pro offensive linemen. Fittingly, it was a line prospect, Portage Central’s Cory Carr fresh off a state semifinal appearance with Portage Central, who brought a different level of energy to, and left the coaches impressed at, the Senior Exposure Camp. It’s easy to see how he was a core two-way player for one of the best teams in school history. Sometimes it sounded like they were in pads when Carr hit em. He’s an athletic, tough guard at 6-1, 240. Physical, naturally strong kid, Carr won all his one-on-ones, even against one of the day’s dominant defenders, Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills senior Malik Green.
Carr also had some nice matchups with a fellow quick, physical from an undefeated regular season team, Cadillac senior Trevor Martin. Martin moves well at 6-1, 265, tough and finished plays because he kept his balance and feet going through the initial hit. He was a first-team D lineman in the Big North, meaning he has gotten the job done against some of the top O line prospects in the state. He also played some offense for Cadillac, guard in goal line situations. Carr was the top offensive lineman, Martin the best defensive lineman, at camp. Watching them up close, explains a lot about their teams’ success this fall. Justin Liptak was Martin’s senior teammate from the Cadillac team that pushed Comstock Park to the last play of the D4 regionals. It was Liptak’s first healthy season and made a difference for the Vikings. He’s not explosive, but solid and smoothly athletic with a terrific frame, 6-4, 220. Liptak worked out with the tight ends, good target though fought the ball a couple times. With his good grades, D3s should love this kid because he has the size and attitude, work ethic he showed to get back from the shoulder injury, to potentially fill a lot of roles.
Malik Green was amongst a strong contingent of Ottawa Hills seniors, a group that made up for average physical size with energy and speed. Green only ran a 5.3 40 but was very quick at 5-7, 200 and gave the bigger linemen fits. Size will make coaches pause, but this is a player for right fit. Liked the motor and strength on another Ottawa Hills senior Rajamon Watkins, 5-10, 250 with a 5.0 50. Owen Schafer, from Pewamo-Westphalia, is another guy built like a linebacker who gave bigger guys fits with his quick feet. Ditto Josiah Buys, a 6-1, 185 Lowell senior, with good technique and quick hands, he was hard to get into.
Byron Center senior Alexander Lake didn’t just have an appropriate last name for this camp, he looked like the top pass rusher. Good lean, violent hands at 6-2, 225 and a 5.0 40. Lake is built like a long, outside linebacker, if he can contain consistently becomes that much more valuable.
We’d seen him excel in AAU basketball and were excited to see what Gull Lake senior Odell Miller can do under the helmet. He’s still raw, but with a rebuilt, trim 6-4, 230 chassis and running a 4.9 40, there’s all kinds of utility value with Miller — down or up; middle, strong or outside LB; or maybe tight end. Didn’t always stay low, but when he did showed good quickness and an effective rip move. Frame to put on a lot of college muscle. And he hasn’t lost the hoop touch, scoring 18 in Gull Lake’s opener.
The talent level is rising in the Lake Michigan Conference. Even East Jordan has legit guys, like 6-0, 245 senior Ben Walton. He moonlighted as a fullback rushing for 700 yards, to the eternal jealousy of some of the other D linemen in his drill group. His future is as a 3 technique, he can beat you with the bull rush or his quickness. Keeps driving to occupy his man.
Muskegon Reeths-Puffer had talent at every level during its playoff season, and their seniors well-represented with offensive linemen Stephen Hanson and Matt Hoover, and Big School All-Lake defensive lineman Buck Tottingham. Hanson has some edge to go with his size at 6-4, 285. Much improved over the past year — more agile, smooth and assured — he was the best pure tackle prospect at camp. Good kick and consistently steered his man off path. Hoover was Reeths-Puffer’s other tackle. You wish he were taller at 5-11, 285, but love the initial push and how regularly he gets his hands in there. He’ll have to play on the interior and while he has the pop as a blocker, may not have the speed to pull. Maybe center? Wayland’s 6-1, 245 senior Colton VanDyke was the top center in camp. He’s another who won’t impress in a 40, but is explosive in short spaces. A bit undersized, but competitive, blue-collar blocker.
From two of the smallest schools, both in the SWAC North, came two of the camp’s biggest, strongest players, 6-4, 300 Saugatuck senior Cameron White and 6-1, 255 senior Adam Harris. Both have added value as long snappers. Harris is physically solid, did as well as any of the offensive lineman at consistently staying in his cylinder in pass protect and won the leverage game. From the other side of the Metropolitan Holland area, West Ottawa senior Cody VanTubergen was one of the pleasant surprises at camp. He was a 6-4, 235 defensive end for the Panthers, with surprising 4.9 speed. Quick off his stance for a big kid. Good frame just not in 100-percent shape but easy to fix.
When we had him at our Big Rapids combine, the local kid Brandon Hutson worked out primarily on defense. Now he’s plying his trade on the offensive line. Even when he was thinking things through, footwork was pretty smooth. A project but will mix it up at 6-1, 240, similar in size and ability to Cory Carr, just not at his level with technique and consistency.
Intriguing because he’s only a junior is Greenville’s 6-4, 255 senior Steve Eipper. He plays like Grand Rapids South Christian’s Todd Postma, big, wide and strong at the point of attack.