Class of 2016
Kyle Augustine 6-3 320 Sr OL/DL Gaylord: The Big North churns out the offensive linemen as well as any league in the Lake Area, but recently those college prospects have been concentrated in Traverse City or Cadillac. But here come the undefeated Blue Devils, anchored at left tackle and DT by Augustine. While you wish there were a couple more inches to send him MAC, when you consider how well he carries his weight, improved quickness and knack for just burying defenders the GLIAC has to love him as a guard. He can get into the second level easily now, and plays through the whistle.
David Curl 6-3 250 Sr DL Watervliet: Curl is a sleeper recruit given his school, physical profile and production. He’s a 4 or 5 technique right end who is slippery going either direction and plays downhill. He’s been a beast for the ‘Vliet, with 8 1/2 sacks and four tackles for loss through four games. He also returned a fumble 52 yards for a TD against Coloma.
Ryan Knight 6-2 200 Sr WR Forest Hills Eastern: He’s been a TD machine since his sophomore season, finding the end zone in 14 of his last 16 games. He has five through four games this year — made all the more sweeter since all have been FHE wins. Thus far in his senior season Knight has 21 catches for 304 yards and five TDs. While he’s not a blazer, Knight’s 4.6 speed is nothing to scoff at particularly because he accelerates quickly into routes, adjusts to throws and has outstanding size for a high school receiver. That size also pays off because he’s a capable and willing blocker, and goes both ways as an outside linebacker who has two interceptions and a sack.
Class of 2017
Johnathan Berghorst 6-3 260 Jr DL Zeeland East: At 3-1 the Chix are one of the Lake Area’s turnaround teams. Berghorst has been strong for them holding down the right side of the defensive line, and will have the chance to solidify himself as a to five prospect in the 2017 class going through a strong O-K Black schedule — Mona Shores then Muskegon coming up, both on the road. He maintains the gaps and commands double teams but is strong enough to blow them up, and if not making plays on the ball himself helps clear avenues for others to. Able to shed blockers and keep his feet against the run. Formerly a tight end, Berghorst now starts at offensive tackle as well for ZE. A strong-side D end now, if he continues to add strength and weight during the next two off-seasons like he did the past one, a likely defensive tackle at the next level. How high will that level be? As of now, he has offers from Illinois and WMU and will visit Purdue this weekend.
Keegan Cossou 6-5 230 Jr TE Greenville: He looks like the an upper-tier Big Ten recruit thanks to textbook size for the position and how he’s embraced the blocking dirty work to complement his natural athletic skill and soft hands. He’ll block like a tackle on one play, then line up wide and easily find spaces to convert against zone coverage the next. Against man coverage he simply overpowers defenders and at his height can make plays on the ball at a higher plane. However, it would be nice to see more routes from his actual tight end position. Cossou has offers from CMU and Toledo, and interest from MSU, Ohio State, U-M, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Iowa and Pitt.
Blake Dunn 5-11 175 Jr ATH Saugatuck: Put an asterisk by this statement if you want, since it’s at a small school, but Dunn may be the best all-around, multi-sport athlete in the Lake Area. In track, he’s own consecutive 300 hurdle titles in Division 4, and was second in the 110 hurdles, fifth in the long jump and anchored the state championship 4×400 team for the Indians. That same spring on the baseball diamond he set school records with a .588 batting average, 42 RBI and 42 stolen bases, and threw a no-hitter in the district final. He keeps loose in the winter starting for Saugatuck’s basketball team. Oh yeah, football. This season, playing under his dad Bill Dunn for 4-0 Saugatuck, the QB has run 75 times for 901 yards and 11 TDs, completed 24-of-38 passes for 348 yards and six TDs to one interception; defensively forced two fumbles and made an interceptions; kicked 12 PATs.
Brandon Goins 6-0 230 Jr LB Hesperia: At the smaller school level, he’s at times a physical force from his inside linebacker spot. Goins isn’t afraid to mix it up and plays with some attitude. While he has decent straight-line speed — he’s had some big rushing games as Hesperia’s fullback — improvements in agility and swivel to get back into coverage will determine his college level.
Phillip Paea 6-4 260 Jr DL/OL Berrien Springs: Two years ago, Berrien Springs had two major recruits, Jhonnny Williams (Notre Dame) and Nick Padla (Michigan State), but little to show for it on the field. There aren’t any big names — yet — on the 2015 roster, but enough solid prospects playing together that the Shamrocks are off to a 4-0 start. Paea is part of that team effort, and he’s helped senior Malik McIntyre to some big games running the ball. The first thing that stands about about Paea offensively, as a high school guard, is his physical length and speed when pulling. He’s a one-time fullback, and blocks like it with good pad level and leg drive. Those same physical attributes help him attacking as a hands-up rusher from the ends, though he needs to develop his technique. A very intriguing prospect and between Paea and 6-3, 215 junior linebacker Steve Spenner, Berrien Springs will have the college coaches back in the fold.
Brayden Smith 6-4 180 Jr WR Byron Center: Also a scholarship-level basketball recruit, if Smith follows football he could be a top 10 recruit in the Lake Area’s 2017 class. Smith has all the athleticism you want, as he combines a 40 in the 4.5s with an explosive vertical.
Class of 2018
Braeden Childress 6-4 215 So QB Big Rapids: He’d started the first four games of the season at tight end, but will be under center Friday as Big Rapids tries to capture a playoff berth against Bay City John Glenn. It’s actually not the first time Childress will start a game at QB. Last season, for Baldwin, he won an opening round playoff games completing 13-of-22 passes for 267 yards and five TDs in a win over Brethren. Though his older brother Brandon was a star quarterback himself, and now a receiver at CMU, Braeden is a different kind of athlete, a big pocket passer with an arm and a calm nature for his age.