Class of 2017
Mike Doyle 6-4 240 Sr DL Lowell: He was one of the few starters back from the Red Arrows’ 2015 state finalist team. And now here they are again, one win away from a return visit to Ford Field. While Lowell mixes their fronts he looks best as a one technique tackle with the strength to hold the gap against double teams allowing linebackers to blitz and a swim move to get some QB pressure going up the middle. With his frame, toughness and Lowell pedigree, should be a popular D2 target.
Cameron Ekanayake 6-2 200 Sr ATH Edwardsburg: This QB has led the Eddies to an undefeated season including playoff wins over Hamilton, Stevensville Lakeshore and Chelsea. Their reward? A date in the D3 semis with Muskegon. Edwardsburg runs the wing T and while Ekanayake is a fine ball-handler, he’s not the smaller, quick, clever type of QB that often thrives hiding behind the dual tight ends. He’s a big, power runner who will take guys with him. He also plays cornerback for Ekanayake, and while he may not have the speed for that spot at the next level this is a physical winner that can help a team somewhere.
Austin McCullough 6-5 185 Sr WR Portage Central: He’s one of the Lake Area’s top dual-sport athletes, a scholarship talent in either basketball or football. There are a lot of similarities to Tyler Conklin, a basketball star at L’anse Creuse North who briefly played hoops at Northwood, walked on at CMU, and is now on NFL scouts’ radars as a tight end. For that to happen, he’d have to get more serious in the weight room, as he’s prioritized basketball thus far. At his size one might think McCullough does most of his damage using his size to post up on hitch or hook routes. But in reality he’s a true receiver, a natural route runner who doesn’t break stride and stretched the field for the Mustangs’ run-heavy offense for five TDs. Nor is just a finesse hooper running around out there, McCullough is a diligent blocker.
Class of 2018
Nick Apsey 6-1 200 Jr ATH Maple City Glen Lake: His brother, Trevor Apsey, was a terrific player now at Central Michigan, but never saw the team success like this, as Glen Lake will meet Pine River in the D6 semifinals. While he’s their top running and receiving threat, like his brother Apsey’s future is on the defensive side of the ball and gives the Lakers have a pair of college linebackers with Duke Angers inside and he outside. While he may play up North, speed is speed, and will be his ticket to the next level.
Elijah Gurley 6-3 220 Jr OL Forest Hills Central: The junior class will be yet another strong one on the offensive line in the Lake Area. Gurley isn’t one of the biggest or strongest right now, but one whom recruiters may take a flier on. He has good length and pass block technique at left tackle, a finesse complement to the terrific senior Nick White at right tackle, buying time for senior QB Tanner Hallock who loved to put up deep balls to junior Bryce Clay and senior Jack Uecker.
David Kruse 6-0 185 Jr QB Lowell: Few positions in the Lake Area come with the historic ramifications, pressure and storied excellence as being Lowell’s quarterback. Kruse has lived up to it, handling the veer like a vet and is undefeated so far in his first season as a starter replacing Ryan Stevens. He’s led Lowell to big-time comeback victories over Rockford and now, twice, Forest Hills Central. He ran for three TDs in the Rangers rematch for the D2 regional crown. Kruse’s oldest brother, Connor Kruse, was a starting offensive lineman at MSU, and this miniature version plays with a similar toughness. Kruse looks much bigger and stronger than his listed dimensions when running the ball, less surprising given that like so many of his teammates he also wrestles. He also had a good left arm on him.
Class of 2019
Tyrese Hunt-Thompson 5-11 160 So Cassopolis: He’s been a major playmaker for Beatty High, and brought the entire arsenal in their D7 regional win over Concord. He caught a TD pass, ran for two TDS, and returned a fumble 75 yards for a score. If he can do just half that against Detroit Loyola in the state semifinals Hunt-Thompson can claim one of the top young talents in the Lake Area regardless of school size.