Class of 2015
Rhys Adle 6-3 215 Sr LB Traverse City Central
TC Central had a rude awakening to downstate football against perennial state power Detroit Catholic Central, but remains the favorite on the more comfortable ground of the Big North. One of the reasons is Adle, a gifted edge rusher. He starts both ways for TC Central as a tight end, but moves well enough that sometimes he’ll line up split wide. The key will be for Adle to retain that 4.7 speed as he adds requisite weight.
Thompson McWatters 6-4 250 Sr OL/DL Grand Haven
Grand Haven’s most highly regarded recruit is at right tackle, 6-4, 280 senior Chase VanHoef. But the Bucs have an intriguing prospect starting opposite him at left tackle as well. McWatters doesn’t have VanHoef’s sheer mass and power, but shows good technique as both a run and pass blocker. Does he have the athleticism and foot speed to play in space against bigger, faster college linemen, or will it call for a move to the interior or even defense?
Class of 2016
Tyler Bradfield 6-1 185 Jr ATH Rockford
In the first half of last Friday’s win at Hudsonville, Rockford’s offense resembled the anemic 2013 version. But the Rams were saved by their defense and the big-play special teams punch of Bradfield. A 30-yard interception return by Spencer Andrus was Rockford’s first TD, and their second was set up by a 50-yard punt return by Bradfield. He also picked off Hudsonville QB Mason Opple at the end of the first half. The week before, he ran for the winning touchdown against Mona Shores; ran for a TD, returned a kickoff 70 yards and led the team in tackles against Holt; and had a pick and returned a fumble 37 yards in the opener with Utica Eisenhower. Bradfield was already an impact speed weapon as a sophomore, when he was an honorable mention All-OK Red safety. Now he’s bigger, a top 10 overall Lake Area prospect in 2016 who will beat you as a kick returner, running between tackles or hunting down passes in the defensive backfield. Rockford has also lined up Bradfield at QB and gotten the ball to him on a fake punt. He’s dangerous as he can both cut back and break away. He’s a real football player, too, and makes hits at the line as Rockford’s second-leading tackler of the season.
Juanye Johnson 6-4 275 Jr OL Muskegon
Johnson is yet another high-end O Line propsect in the Lake Area for 2016 .A flexible, mobile and tough run plow for the Big Reds at right tackle. He has quick hands and typically beats the opposing lineman to the punch. A strongside momentum-maker who will roll right into the second level and play through the whistle. Johnson needs to work on his vertical quickness, and footwork in pass protect.
Jonathan Berghorst 6-3 230 So DL Zeeland East
He’s been getting Big Ten interest since being called up to play varsity as a freshman in 2013, then performing well at school’s cams and Sound Mind Sound Body. A former linebacker who many are looking at as a De end, Berghorst had the strong legs, now as a sophomore he’s filled out all over. He runs a sub-5 second 40 and that straight-line speed is evident in his pass rush. Michigan is considered the early leader for Berhorst, a quarter-century after Jay Riemersma left the Chix for Ann Arbor a quarterback, and returned an NFL tight end.
Steven Spenner 6-3 205 So LB Berrien Springs
Berrien Springs, of all places, had two big-time recruits last year, with Jhonathan Williams going to Notre Dame and Nick Padla to MSU. There could be another making his way through for the Shamrocks in Spenner, who was an was honorable mention All-Wolverine linebacker as just a freshman. He’s a two-way starter, also a tight end, who thrives as a middle linebacker. Between making the right reads and his smooth approach, Spenner is too quick for linemen and has a knack for getting cleanly to ball-carriers. He’s a high tackler and with his big frame keeps the backs from falling forward, but will have to work on pad level and power to finish as the talent, speed and strength of the opposition increases. He plays like a classic run-stopping middle linebacker, Spenner needs to be able to show sideline-to-sideline speed and the pass cover ability needed for the position in the modern game, and could end up as an OLB. Certainly one to remember as he fills out over the next two-and-a-half seasons, and keep an eye on Berrien Springs’ other sophomore linebacker 6-3, 225 Phillip Paea.
David Thompson 5-8 175 So WR Ravenna
Like Berghorst and Spenner, Thompson was a freshman phenom on varsity who has matured and is even better as a sophomore. He already has over 1,000 career receiving yards for the Bulldogs, still undefeated in 2014. What you like best about Thompson is he’s not just some speed guy, but someone who will make grabs across the middle and break tackles after the catch. Thompson had a rushing TD last week in Ravenna’s blowout of Hart. He has the athleticism and toughness to play running back, defensive back or linebacker as his career progresses.