Class of 2015
Sam Beal 6-2 175 Sr WR Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills Western Michigan
Beal doesn’t just look and move the part of a college receiver — long arms and smooth sprinter’s speed — he produced like it in Ottawa Hills’ opener, admittedly against by far the worst team we’ve seen in the now third season of the LMFR, Grand Rapids Union. Beal needs to work on his strength getting off the jams, but with his knee fully healthy once he reaches gear watch out. Against Union he made life simpler for Ottawa Hills’ sophomore QB Jeremy Glasco. Beal caught three balls from Glasco for 103 yards and two TDs, and scored twice more on an end-around and interception return. Unlike last year’s Western Michigan recruit from the Lake Area, Mona Shores’ Asantay Brown, we like Beal as a natural receiver instead of DB in the MAC.
Chris Pearl 6-4 185 Sr WR Otsego
He could be this year’s Kyle Steigenga, using his basketball hops and timing to pile up TDs. In his first high school football game, Pearl was a bright spot in a big loss to Paw Paw with four catches for 73 yards and a TD. Obviously behind from a football perspective, but Pearl has tools that will intrigue college coaches, such as his 6-8 wingspan and 30″ standing vertical.
Jon Wassink 6-3 190 Sr QB Grand Rapids South Christian Western Michigan
There was a sense on the Grand Rapids Christian side of the stands that Wassink might have had a magical comeback from a 21-0 deficit last Friday, but that never came to pass as the Eagles beat South Christian for the fourth year in a row 28-14. Despite that streak it was GR Christian playing with the edge of the underdogs, and put pressure on Wassink all night. When he ran the ball Wassink did fine, a game-high 116 yards. It was when he threw it under duress that the mechanics and decision-making suffered, including a pick. He was 14-of-27 for 179 yards passing with two TDs, one of them 51 yards to senior Ryan Veenstra who made a tough catch. When he did have time, Wassink made legit college throws able to put it through traffic to tight targets. South needs more production from the wide receivers, as senior running back Geff Plasman was the most reliable target.
Class of 2016
James Haverkamp 6-5 247 Jr OL Grand Rapids Christian
Haverkamp has some big cleats to fill. He’s GR Christian’s starting left tackle in the stead of Tommy Doles, who has matriculated to Northwestern. Doles may have been the best overall football player in the Lake Area in 2013. Haverkamp doesn’t have that kind of talent. But he has the frame and coaching to project as guys like current seniors like Greenville’s Steve Eipper and Kenowa Hills’ Derek Smith, both CMU commitments. Haverkamp is long and used his hands well, needs more consistent pad level and to develop some nasty. The Eagles’ line should continue to improve as Havercamp is one of four solid juniors along with 6-4, 265 Ben Hoerle at right guard and 5-9, 215 linebacker Kaelin Hopson at left guard and 6-1, 205 junior Osman Biango at right tackle.
Garret Lundteigen 5-9 165 Jr WR/DB Petoskey
The son of Petoskey ski coach Erik Lundteigen, and a member of that state championship team himself, Garret may have well been on skis the way his 4.5 speed blew through the Sault during the Northmen’s 53-14 win in the UP. That one opened with a 75-yard kickoff return TD from Lundteigen. He also had a 69-yard catch-and-run TD, a 56-yard TD run and made two interceptions. The Northmen’s offense should be as dangerous as ever, with Lundteigen and another 4.5 threat, senior running back Kurt Boucher, at the disposal of the Lake Area’s top junior QB Evan Whitmore.
Zach VanValkenburg 6-4 230 Jr LB Zeeland West
He’s transitioned seemingly easily from a starting D end on Zeeland West’s state championship team to their middle linebacker in the opener with Detroit Country Day. We really like how he flowed to the ball. Unlike when these teams met last year, DCD had the bigger and faster team. But not better football players, and this junior was a blanket in the middle of the field as the Dux’s D didn’t let the Yellowjackets release any game-breakers. His most startling play saw VanValkenburg, after a bad snap, run down Country Day’s QB leveling him with one arm from behind for a 17-yard, third-down loss. As three-sport athlete VanValkenburg matures at the position and is able to play freely and deliver with more finishing power, he could be the next Carter Masek out of the Lake Area.
Evan Whitmore 6-3 185 Jr QB Petoskey
His upside is huge, as he has all the physical tools and intangibles and is just getting started. This is only Whitmore’s second season playing quarterback, and his first he did it as a varsity starting sophomore. Petoskey will always make hay with their monotously prolific double-wing, but Whitmore’s talents are too evident to not take advantage of them. Look for him to expound upon his 2013 numbers of 32-57 passing for 615 yards and seven TDs. In the Northmen’s opening win at Sault Ste. Marie, he threw for four TDs. He puts up a strong ball with little strain, and places it well, and runs with 4.6 speed. Whitmore is the top 2016 QB prospect in the Lake Area.
James Wyrick 5-9 190 Jr RB Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills
He was one of the state’s most productive underclassman backs in 2013 with over 1,000 yards (albeit it nearly a quarter of those in just one game with Holland) and 11 TDs. Wyrick knows what he’s doing back there, is patient with blocking, and rarely goes down with the first hit. He fights for the first-down flat or end zone pylon. He’s shifty with good but not elite speed, so Wyrick will have to keep working on his blocking, receiving to become a complete back for the college level.
Class of 2017
Davaunte Dickens 5-10 225 RB/LB Grand Rapids Christian
He looked like an East Grand Rapids back in his varsity debut, running seven time for 41 yards and two TDs in the Eagles’ win over South Christian. He did a good job as an outlet for backup QB Patrick Hall, who came in and played with poise after starter Lukas Thompson was injured. What makes Dickens a legit prospect is how light on his feet he is for his size, which were evident on his 24-yard TD run. Dickens went both ways against South Christian, recovering a fumble, and another promising sophomore started with him on defense, cornerback Tahari Braggs.