GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - For the Class of 2005 in the state of Michigan the West is the best. Best as in the state's top junior prospects all seem to reside on the Western part of the state and that group is highlighted by future Michigan Wolverine and highly-touted Kevin Grady of East Grand Rapids.
And after Rivals100.com and The Wolverine reporter Josh Helmholdt met with Grady in person on Thursday, there is no question that he is the real deal.
Grady, who is 5-foot-10 and 230 pounds, has guided East Grand Rapids to the second round of the Michigan state playoffs. As a sophomore, he earned all-state honors when he rushed for 2,075 yards and 43 touchdowns and he's more than on his way to a repeat performance this year.
"You almost have to pinch yourself, because he's so good," East Grand Rapids coach Peter Stuursma said. "The biggest thing about KG is that he wants to be great, and he has made himself into the real deal. He's an elite player and worked hard to get to that point, but he is such a humble kid. He's like a son to me."
Grady is a son that will be wearing maize and blue in college.
Grady's commitment was nearly a year and a half before signing day for the Class of 2005. And it's a decision that Stuursma said was the right one for Grady.
"All I care is that he is happy," Stuursma said. "But by committing early it's a huge weight off his shoulders. My concern was that he was going to be happy with his decision, and he hasn't regretted it one bit. He now has the ability to focus on his senior season and know what his future has in store."
And Stuursma has no doubt that Grady will be a nice back in Michigan's system.
"I think he'll do very well," Stuursma said. "He's only going to continue to push himself harder and harder when he makes the move to Michigan. The harder you push KG, the faster he goes. I'll put my money on him being a great player Michigan."
That's especially true if you look at his running style.
Grady, who has a 40-yard dash time of around 4.5-seconds according to Stuursma, has a powerful running style but has more moves than John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. One analyst that has seen him play in person compared him to Kansas State running back Darren Sproles, but with more size and weight.
But just like Stuursma said, Grady is one of the nicest and most humble players that you'll meet. While meeting with Rivals100, he couldn't stop from displaying a million dollar smile. Or more correctly, a million dollar Wolverine smile.
Not to be outdone, though, is Muskegon, Mich., junior defensive tackle Terrance Taylor, a prospect that will also be recruited on the national level.
Taylor is 6-foot-1 and 297 pounds, and he's also one of the strongest prospects in the nation. With a bench-press of more than 400 pounds and a squat of 625 pound, he is one of the best power lifters in the Midwest.
Taylor took home the Michigan State Power lifting title and set a meet record by recording a combined 1,615 pounds. Broken down, that is a 610-pound squat, 620-pound dead lift and a 385-pound bench press. It should be noted that in power lifting tournaments, the bar must come to rest on your chest before a lifter can complete his bench press, and that makes the lift much more difficult.
Combine that strength with 4.95-second speed in the 40-yard dash and a explosive first step, Taylor could easily be a four-star prospect. In the first round of the Michigan state playoffs, Taylor couldn't be blocked as he blasted through the line of scrimmage play after play, after play.
"He's such a powerful kid," Muskegon coach Tony Annese said. "We even play him on offense because he's such an amazing blocker. We had the ball at the four-yard line and I called a quarterback sneak right behind him at guard. My offensive coordinator started to yell down at me asking me what the heck is going on.
"I told him to just watch. The first play, our quarterback snuck is all the way to the one foot line. We all thought he was really in. We then snuck it again on second down, and I tell you what the quarterback could have run it all the way to the back of the end zone because the hole behind Terrance was so big."
For all of that size and strength, Taylor is still a shy kid with a baby face that wants to major in architecture in college.
Like Grady, that future is probably also going to be Michigan.
"I'm thinking about committing to Michigan," Taylor, who has a 2.5 grade-point average, said. "I'm leaning that way for sure."
Michigan offered Taylor after their summer camp this year, but the Wolverines aren't the only team chasing the defensive lineman.
"I'm also getting regular mail from Alabama, Nebraska, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Colorado," Taylor said. "My mom doesn't really care where I go. She wants me to go where it's best for me."
Grady and Taylor are two of the best in the state, but another player that should be recruited by mid-level Big 10 programs is Grandville, Mich., standout Andrew Hawken.
Hawken is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound athlete projects as an outside linebacker or fullback in college. With a 3.79 grade-point average and only six-percent body fat, teams like Purdue, Nebraska and Alabama are already showing interest.
The Boliermakers have talked about an early scholarship offer for Hawken to play linebacker, but if Michigan offers the Wolverines would be tough to beat.
"He's very lean," Grandville coach Irv Sigler said. "He's a guy that could project at running back, linebacker, receiver or anywhere. He can do anything. He's a guy with tremendous humility with great work ethic.
"He's the type of guy that likes to ignore tackles. He's been banged up quite a bit this season, so we haven't had a chance to play him as much as we want on defense, but we're going to put him out there this week."
This week is the second round of the state playoffs when Grandville plays Rockford.