Class of 2015
Caden Burrows 6-1 270 Sr OL/DL Cedar Springs
A veteran at center, Burrows has helped ease the transition for Cedar Springs’ sophomore quarterback Collin Alvesteffer and the Red Hawks are going to the playoffs. From the snap to finding his man, Burrows really gets his hands on quickly to help spring free the dangerous backs in Cedar’s wing T. He plays physically on the D line as well. A better athlete downhill than side-to-side, and pass block remains something of a myster given the high school offense.
Jarod Rodgers 6-0 205 Sr RB Byron Center
He’s getting stronger as the season progresses, with 493 yards and six TDS on the ground in Byron Center’s last two games alone. That includes touchdown runs of 91 and 87 yards last Friday against Holland Christian. All the way back from a sophomore ACL injury, Rodgers has nearly doubled his per carry rushing average from his junior season. He’s hard to bring down, then has enough straight line speed at 4.7 to take it to the house when he gets to daylight.
Kenny Willekes 6-3 215 Sr LB Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian
He’s on the top of the GLIAC recruiting charts at linebacker, and with that textbook size sand 4.7 speed some MAC interest as well. As a senior Willekes is having some fun running the ball too. Last week was his high to date, 202 yards and two TDs against Godwin Heights. It’s the defense that will pay the bills though. Willekes fills job requirement one — he beads in on the ball, squares and finishes as a tackler. He can pursue sideline to sideline. Willekes plays with some rambunctiousness and edge, without losing his fundamentals. This is a big school talent playing at the Division 7 level, which can really make things fall apart for the opposition.
Class of 2016
Gabe Baumann 6-3 245 Jr LB Rockford
Grand Haven had a nice ground game going in their overtime loss last Friday to Rockford. But most of that damage was done running off left tackle, far away from Baumann on the other side of the line. He plays with his hand down now but athletic enough to do either. Despite his size he has some wiggle which caused some problems for one of the Lake Area’s top senior tackles, Grand Haven’s Chase VanHoef, and ended up drawing double-teams. He closes well for his size as well. It was hard to see how Baumann does against the run in this game, but he’s clearly a top five overall prospect from the Lake Area in 2016.
Michael Holdship 6-0 210 Jr LB/RB Cadillac
Baumann is the top outside linebacker in the 2016 class, and Holdship the best on the inside and, like his 131 neighbor, is a top five overall junior talent in the Lake Area. Cadillac may have been underestimated after graduating one of the best players in the school’s history, quarterback Jalen Brooks, to Ferris State. But the Vikings are undeated and running away from the Big North. Holdship is a carryover starter and a two-way workhorse for Cadillac. He’s playing defensive tackle this year. On the other side, Holdship has run for 190 yards the past two weeks, including last Friday against Traverse City West (a Division 1 school, Caddy is D4). With 4.6 speed and blue-collar toughness, he could end up a linebacker or Big Ten fullback.
Lake Area’s Top 5 2016 Linebacker Prospects
1. Gabe Baumann 6-3 245 Jr Rockford
2. Michael Holdship 6-0 210 Jr Cadillac
3. Zach VanValkenburg 6-4 230 Jr Zeeland West
4. Dom Shermeta 5-11 210 Jr Muskegon Mona Shores
5. Zane Gorby 6-3 200 Jr Caledonia
Nolan Meekhof 6-1 215 Jr RB/LB Grandville
We’ve long loved Meekhof for his measurables, he was a big powerful athlete as just a freshman. The he blew it away again at our combine last spring running a 4.6 40, clearing over 30″ standing vertical and making the top powerball toss at over 40′. But how does that translate to the field? Increasingly well. In what was a surprise blowout win only those who haven’t followed West Ottawa’s two boys’ money sports for decades, Meekhof ran 25 times for 145 yards and two TDs against a talented defense from the then No. 1 team in Division 1.