The pool of underclassmen on the local prep football field is brimming with elite college prospects, several of which are blazing up recruiting charts with shimmering efforts on the offseason showcase camp and combine circuit.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Josh Ross and Daelin Hayes are two of the best underclassmen in the entire nation.
Only a freshman, Ross is a 6-foot-2, 220-pound prodigy at the linebacker position, much like his brother, James, currently a starter in the Big Ten for the University of Michigan. The younger Ross started last season on the Eaglets’ varsity squad and was the team’s leading-tackler until a leg injury ended his campaign prematurely in Week 6. Fully recovered, he’s already picked up scholarship offers from Michigan, Michigan State and Oklahoma.
Hayes is an athletic freak of a sophomore, a physical specimen at 6-foot-3, 235-pounds who excels carrying the ball in the backfield or pursuing ball-carriers and quarterbacks on defense from a linebacker spot or rush end.
Although he’s played merely less than a quarter of varsity football (he was injured on the second carry of his prep career, following a first-touch that went for an eye-opening 20-yard chug), Hayes has collected offers from Michigan, Michigan State and Tennessee.
Farmington sophomore wide receiver Desmond Fitzpatrick (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) has been tearing up the college-scouting terrain too and is pocketing BCS offers at a rapid clip. In the past two weeks, this sticky-handed, precise route-runner has grabbed bids from Cincinnati and Wake Forest. Indiana of the Big Ten and Toledo and Ohio University of the Mid-American Conference had previously offered Fitzpatrick, the Hoosiers and the Rockets extending bids prior to him playing his first varsity snap.
"Desmond could be the smartest player I've ever seen at his age, his understanding of the game and how to play his position is off-the-charts for such a youngster," said one national scout.
Southfield sophomore running back Matt Falcon (6-foot-1, 220 pounds) and the Farmington pair of sophomore safety Jakkar Jackson (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) and sophomore linebacker David Reese (6-foot-2, 245 pounds) are also earning sniffs from BCS programs.
Having missed all of the 2013 season because of a broken leg, Falcon is a speed demon with the power-rushing ability to bang in between the tackles. Reese is a two-year starter at the high school level already and is a total workhorse. Jackson started every game last fall for Farmington in his first season of varsity action and has tremendous instinct and upside.
Lake Orion senior baseball star Brad Schaenzer was moving and shaking the entire offseason. And, as always, making jaws drop with his deadly efficiency toeing the slab.
Schaenzer, an All-American lefty hurler signed with the University of Kentucky, spent the summer throwing strikes for the Team USA 17-U development team down in Cary, North Carolina and his Midwest Elite travel club.
“Nothing can top wearing the Red, White and Blue,” he said.
When Midwest Elite traveled South to compete in tournament play at the Team USA development facility in Cary, it went undefeated (8-0).
Teammates with Schaenzer on the Midwest Elite last summer were the Birmingham Brother Rice diamond brigade of Alex Malzone, Freddy Jehle, Randy Righter, Ty Kiafoulis, Tommy Lentz and Sammy Stevens.
Last spring as a junior, Schaenzer was 8-2 with a 1.47 ERA , striking out 77 batters in 57 innings, while helping lead Lake Orion into the Class A quarterfinals. His fastball is clocked as high as the low 90s.
New kids on the block
Under Armor has come into Michigan recently and planted roots in the state’s youth basketball scene by starting an AAU program called OneNation.
It’s already attracted marquee names for its inaugural summer of competition, the highest-wattage of which is Detroit Consortium’s Josh Jackson, the unquestionable No. 1 player in the state. That’s not all. Word out of OneNation is that Jackson is set to be joined by Oakland County superstars Jeron (Buddha) Rogers of North Farmington and Bakari Evelyn of Southfield Christian.
Tweet of the week
"'I still have a lot to prove over the summer...looking forward to the future," - Farmington Hills Mercy junior girls basketball standout Taylor Jones, only a week removed from her Marlins team advancing into the Class A final four