He was a prolific receiver under two quarterbacks during his career at Forest Hills Eastern and as a senior a crucial weapon on the best team in school history. Ryan Knight caught 49 passes for 873 yards and 10 TDs on FHE’s Division 4 state semifinalist. After the season, he showed the physical bona fides and skill that helped that success at the Lake Michigan Football Report Senior Camp in Grand Rapids, where he was named the top prospect.
Knight came down wrong on an ankle later in the day, but he’d already shown enough. He has a college physique at 6-2, 200 and buoyed those tools with a pair of 4.6 40-yard dashes. Not only is Knight an ideal target, but he was able to make adjustments and go get the ball. Throw in grades and test score, and any GLIAC program looking for a red zone receiver should be all over him.
OL Keegan Golder 6-5 270 Sr Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern
A plus athlete at right tackle who emerged as a star in his third year as a starter for the school-best 11-2 Hawks. Golder anchored an offense that averaged over 37 points a game before running into state champion Zeeland West in the Division 4 semifinals. MAC level prospect with his frame and feet (athletic enough that he sometimes lined up at tight end).
OL Phil Paea 6-4 270 Jr Berrien Springs
Division 5 Berrien Springs, of all places, is emerging as a hotbed of Power 5 line prospects. Nick Padla is at MSU, Johnny Williams is at Notre Dame, and now comes Paea, who already has a BYU offer while being recruited by half the Big Ten. The former fullback is an athletic guard who helped clear the way for Malik McIntyre’s big senior season running the ball.
OL Mitchell Davis 6-5 260 Sr Lowell
With Davis at tackle and fellow senior Karson Morley at guard, the right side of Lowell’s line was as tough as any in the Lake Area. The Division 2 state runners-up averaged 43 points per game.
OL Michael VanHoeven 6-5 300 Sr Paw Paw
While skill injuries slowed down a typically potent Paw Paw attack, VanHoeven was an All-Wolverine Conference guard for the third straight season. With Thiyo Lukusa moving to New Jersey and Traverse City West’s Jacob Cerny hurt. VanHoeven was the top ranked line prospect in the Lake Area. He committed early to Eastern Michigan and recently passed on a preferred walk on offer to Notre Dame.
OL Derices Brown 6-1 280 Sr Muskegon
A three-year starter at guard who helped the transition for junior QB Kalil Pimpleton, who emerged as one of the most feared weapons in the Lake Area both running and throwing for 1,000 yards apiece. A grinder at the point of attack but athletic enough to get into the second level, Brown also played on the D line the only Big Red to go both ways.
QB Ryan Stevens 6-2 165 Sr Lowell
He fulfilled the expectations of the Lowell QB legacy, leading the Red Arrows to the Division 2 state final. Stevens threw for 2,737 yards and 31 TDs while running for 1,107 yards and 21 TDs.
RB Monterio Smith 5-10 180 Sr Comstock Park
Comstock Park’s answer to Ronnie Harmon catching balls out of the backfield. He made 74 catches for 993 yards and 12 TDs while running it 109 times for 706 yards and 16 TDs.
RB Nolan Meekhof 6-1 230 Sr Grandville
No back in the Lake Area shared Meekhof’s combination of size and speed. In eight games for the Bulldogs (they were 6-2 when Meekhof played, 0-2 without him), he rushed for 1,224 yards and 10 TDs on 173 carries. He also had a TD catch. Meekhof recently received a preferred walk on offer from Minnesota.
WR Hunter Boersma 6-2 190 Sr Muskegon Mona Shores
The Lake Area’s top ranked senior prospect, headed to WMU, did it all for the 10-1 Sailors. A repeat All-Area selection, Broersma started both ways and also saw time at QB and had seven TD catches while also scoring TDs via the run, pass, punt return and interception return.
WR Gabe Steed 6-1 180 Sr Lowell
A game-breaker since being called up during his sophomore season, Steed is a repeat All-Lake selection. During the regular season he had 30 receptions for 673 yards and 11 TDs. He also started at cornerback for the Red Arrows.
WR Nick Turowski 6-1 180 Sr Comstock Park
Hooked up with senior QB Pat Naughton for one of the most prolific receiving seasons in Lake Area history. Turowski had 113 receptions — a state record — for 1,474 yards and 12 TDs. His 18 catches against Allendale are also a state record.
DL Zach VanValkenburg 6-4 240 Sr Zeeland West
A middle linebacker as a junior who moved back to his more natural hybrid end spot, where VanValkenburg dominated for the Division 4 state champion Dux. He made 60 tackles, including 20 behind the line. He also started on offense at right tackle.
DL Carl Myers 6-3 260 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
He continues the West Catholic tradition of having dominant defensive linemen on state championship teams. Myers was bull strong at his right end position making 55 tackles and also went the other way as the Falcons’ right tackle on offense.
DL Nate Umlor 6-6 245 Jr Allendale
With St. Joseph’s Corey Hatcher-Malone injured, Umlor emerged as the top active college prospect in the Lake Area’s 2017 class, a high-major recruit as either a defensive end or tight end.
LB Dom Shermeta 6-0 215 Sr Muskegon Mona Shores
He was Mona Shores leading tackler for three years, which coincided with the best seasons in school history. He made 75 tackles for the Sailors and was also their leading rusher.
LB Max Dean 5-11 185 Sr Lowell
The stalwart of a defense that got the Red Arrows to the Division 2 state championship game. Dean led Lowell with 76 tackles, including 9 ½ sacks, during their regular season which included an undefeated O-K White title.
LB Nate Jones 6-1 205 Sr Muskegon Catholic Central
He was a four-year starter for the Crusaders, including three state championship teams. Jones made 80 tackles and fie interceptions for the Division 8 state titlist.
LB Luke Sage 6-1 195 Sr Boyne City
A repeat selection who led the Ramblers to consecutive Division 6 district crowns. Sage had 141 tackles, including 21 for loss, and over 400 as a three-year starter.
DB Jacob Buchberger 6-1 185 Sr Montague
He led the Lake Area with 11 intceptions and made 70 tackles for a team that went undefeated in the West Michigan Conference. As Montague’s QB, Buchberger ran for 1,531 yards and 21 TDs and threw for 1,005 and 15 TDs.
DB Tyler Bradfield 6-0 200 Sr Rockford
A repeat All-Lake selection, and justifiably so as Bradfield will go down as one of the best all-around players in Rockford history. He had 70 tackles, including six for loss, and two interceptions (one of them a 74-yard TD return). Bradfield also ran for two TDs, passed for a TD, caught seven TDs and returned two kicks for TDs.
DB Brayden Smith 6-4 180 Jr Byron Center
A rangy safety with a three-foot vertical leap who made 53 stops for the Bulldogs’ Division 2 playoff team. On offense he 626 yards and 10 TDs, while from special teams Smith was named an all-state punter.
DB Jake Sypniweski 5-10 160 Sr Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern
Key member of a defense that helped FHE to an historic season, winning a regional in Division 4. Sypniewski’s eight interceptions were the most of anyone from an O-K conference team, while making 50 tackles. Offensively he scored six TDs.
- This is the sixth installment of the fourth-annual Lake Michigan Football Report post-season honors, the Class of 2017 team for juniors who didn’t make either their division or Overall All-Area Offensive and Defensive Teams. Unlike the LMFR’s prospect rankings, the All-Lake teams are based on players’ performances in the 2015 season, not college potential.
OL Nick White 6-1 260 Jr Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central
OL Turner Ruby 6-4 285 Jr East Kentwood
OL Reide Klinger 6-4 265 Jr Jenison
OL Lane Potter 6-3 265 Jr Hudsonville
OL Caleb TenBroeke 6-1 215 Jr Zeeland West
TE Connor Chupailo 6-4 260 Jr Zeeland West
TE Keegan Coussou 6-5 225 Jr Greenville
QB Griffin Beaudette 6-0 165 Jr St. Joseph
RB Nick Isley 6-3 180 Jr Rockford
RB Vernonell Smith 6-0 190 Jr North Muskegon
WR Jacorey Sullivan 6-3 205 Jr Muskegon
MVP Drew Couturier 5-10 140 Jr WR Allendale
DL Ben Sherwin 6-5 240 Jr Traverse City Central
DL Michael Doyle 6-4 225 Jr Lowell
DL Kyle Koetje 6-2 225 Jr Montague
LB Fitz Doud 6-1 195 Jr Traverse City Central
LB Jordan Watkins 5-7 170 Jr Fennville
LB Levi Six 5-9 175 Jr LB Fruitport
DB John Pupel 6-1 180 Jr Traverse City Central
DB Eric Coley 5-9 175 Jr Portage Northern
DB DJ Lowery 5-10 175 Jr Remus Chippewa Hills
DB Zach Zenner 5-10 175 Jr Grand Rapids West Catholic
DB Brady Paganelli 5-10 160 Jr Grandville
MVP Walker Christoffersen 5-9 175 Jr DB Muskegon Catholic Central