Class of 2016
Seth Benson 6-0 200 Sr LB Vicksburg: He broke his foot during the spring in track, so Benson missed the camp season. Coaches will want to get ahold of his film though based on what he did in Vicksburg’s shutout opening win over Dowagiac. He’s a fourth-year varsity player who is really cashing in. Playing just the first three quarters against Dowagiac, Benson made 14 tackles, including three behind the line, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and returned an interception 40 yards for a TD.
Andrew Madison 6-6 225 Sr TE East Kentwood: He’s an intriguing prospect. He didn’t play last season but Madison has kind of plateaued as a basketball prospect, stuck as a dreaded tweener forward. As a tight end, however, he has about perfect size, and the basketball hands were evident with a pair of key catches in EK’s opening win at Farmington Hills Harrison.
Monterio Smith 5-10 160 Sr RB/DB Comstock Park: To achieve full satisfaction as a running back in Comstock Park’s offense you have to be a threat catching the ball, and Smith has really improved in that area. Last Saturday against Cedar Springs he had seven receptions for 192 yards, including TDs of 61 and 21 yards, while also running 12 times for 73 yards and two more scores, including the game-clincher in the fourth quarter. Comstock Park has seen a steady stream of GLIAC recruits under coach Mark Chapman, and Smith and QB Pat Naughton look like they’ll continue the trend. The former will have to really pack on the muscle though to be an every down college back.
Nick Turowski 6-2 180 Sr WR Comstock Park: Receiver can be a tough position to judge at the high school level, because it’s so dependent on the guy throwing the ball, and the plays being called. Turowski is lucky enough to play with one of the Lake Area’s top QBs, senior Pat Naughton. He takes advantage of the situation by running consistent routes and making a square target for Naughton. The Panthres went to Turowski early and often in their Gridiron Classic win over Cedar Springs, as he finished with 10 catches for 125 yards including an 11-yard TD. His speed was also on display starting in CP’s defensive backfield. A strong student, Turowski should be the toast of D3 recruiters.
Zach VanValkenburg 6-4 235 Sr DL/LB Zeeland West: He disrupted Oak Park’s offensive flow throughout the nightcap of the Gridiron Classic at Grand Valley State. VanValkenburg is back at the defensive end position he played as a sophomore. He pursued well down the line, though was sometimes overly enthusiastic and got beat by the run by getting too deep into the Knights’ backfield. He also made key plays offensively, in his first start at right tackle, and on special teams. After Oak Park’s Miles Daniel took Zeeland West’s first kickoff all the way back for a TD, on the Dux’ next attempt VanValkenburg was the first one down the field tackling Daniel. He is a top student and has an offer from Hillsdale and is being recruited by Ivy and Patriot League schools.
Class of 2017
Vincent Coakley 5-10 170 Jr LB Kalamazoo Central: K-Central had strong linebacker play in a tough defensive game, ultimately a 13-6 loss, to St. Joseph. 6-1, 215 Tyler Lyle had double-digit tackles for the Maroon Giants, not surprising he’s a known commodity. Then you throw in Coakley on the outside, who was flying around the ball all night and hitting harder than his frame suggests.
Corey Hatcher-Malone 6-3 245 Jr LB St. Joseph: With Traverse City’s Thiyo Lukusa, a MSU commitment, matriculating to New Jersey to play his final high school season, Hatcher-Malone becomes the most widely recruited player in the Lake Area. He’s versatile and well-coached, and helped lead St. Joseph’s to a strong season opening defensive performance at Kalamazoo Central, whether lining up at inside linebacker or defensive end, hand up or hand down; at tight end he also had a key catch and big block. Hatcher-Malone repeatedly compressed the Kalamazoo Central pocket, and while he didn’t always wow with overwhelming physicality, but got it done with fundamentals and competence.
Lane Potter 6-3 265 Jr OL Hudsonville: He’s the starting center on what is an overall beefy offensive line, no surprise in the Salad Bowl. Potter helped Hudsonville cover over 300 yards on the ground in the Eagles’ season opening win over Holt. He’s technically sound, improved flexibility and speed could push him into scholarship territory next season.
Class of 2018
Ryan Hayes 6-6 240 TE/DL Traverse City West: Some day we may look back and realize TC West had two Power 5 players on the left side of their line, Illinois commitment Jake Cerny at tackle and Hayes at tight end. He shows the ability to catch the ball and the Titans look to him in the flat or the seam. He also sees time lining up at either defensive end, and shows good quickness though he needs to get develop moves to get himself free of the offensive line. Hayes is a three-sport athlete — football, basketball, baseball — and one of the real promising underclassman prospect in the Lake Area.