Instate Juniors: The Three Lake Orion Kids

Jim S,' profiles of top junior football prospects continues. Today he covers (suburban Detroit's) Lake Orion's three probable Division-One-quality juniors: one most probably Big Ten caliber, one quite possibly, and one perhaps.

Michigan Junior to Watch: Roger Allison

Name: Roger Allison
School: Lake Orion
State: Michigan
Position: Linebacker/Fullback
Height: 6-2
Weight: 225 lbs.
Forty: 4.75 sec. (electronic)
GPA: 3.6
2002 Honors: Oakland Press Pre-season Super 60 in Oakland County; Detroit Free Press Honorable Mention All-State (RB); Detroit News Honorable Mention Class A All-State (RB); Associated Press Honorable Mention Class A All-State (RB); Detroit News Honorable Mention All-Metro Detroit (LB); Detroit Free Press First Team All-Metro North (TB); Detroit News First Team All-Metro North (LB); Oakland Press First Team All Oakland County (RB); Eccentric Newspapers First Team All-Area (RB).

Roger has emerged as one of the elite junior prospects in the state of Michigan. He excels on both sides of the ball and projects in college as either a bruising fullback or rugged inside linebacker. In addition to possessing solid size and speed, what really stands out about Roger is that he is, first and foremost, a football player. Tough, tenacious, aggressive, etc. … the same sort of words that one hears when describing a player like Dick Butkus.

His head coach, Chris Bell, had this to say about Roger in late January: "Roger Allison is 6-2, 220 and runs a low 4.7 or 4.6 forty, he hasn't been timed in awhile. He started for us as a junior at both RB and LB. He led Oakland County in rushing and touchdowns. He rushed for about 1600 yards, averaged 7 yards per carry and scored 21 touchdowns. He is an all-around great football player. He understands the game. He is a great hitter. He's a very punishing player the way he runs and tackles. They don't make them any tougher. All of the colleges that have been into the school really like him. That includes Stanford, Michigan, Boston College and all the MAC schools. Everybody loves the way he plays. He's definitely a big-time prospect. He's still growing and he will get bigger, faster and stronger. Jim Herrmann, the Michigan coach, visited us and really likes the way Roger plays, especially his intensity and work ethic. Roger doesn't have any offers yet but we believe that he's a high-level Big Ten prospect. The feedback from the college coaches has been very positive. Roger carries a 3.6 GPA and is taking college prep courses."

Here are some comments Coach Bell made to the Eccentric newspapers after Roger had a stellar performance in the second game of his junior season: "That's the way he plays," Lake Orion coach Chris Bell said. "He just runs hard. He punishes people. And he keeps going north and south - Roger's a bull."

Here is what the Detroit Free Press had to say about Roger when it named him First Team All-Metro North: "TB ROGER ALLISON School: Lake Orion. Class: Junior. Size: 6-1, 215. Highlights: Rushed for 1,630 yards, 21 TDs on 239 carries. Made 102 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions as LB. Coach Chris Bell: ‘Roger is a complete football player and the toughest I've ever seen. He had to lead the state in the number of people that had to be helped off the field after trying to tackle him.' 3.4 GPA."

Here is what the Detroit News had to say about Roger when it named him First Team All-Metro North at LB: "Roger Allison, Lake Orion: Allison, a junior, rushed for 1,612 yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. The two-year starter also had 102 tackles, two interceptions and three sacks. ‘He is one of the best football players around,' Coach Chris Bell said."

Here is what the Oakland Press had to say about Roger when it named him First Team All-Oakland County: "RB Roger Allison, Lake Orion (6-2, 215) jr. - In 11 games, he rushed for a county-leading 1,587 yards and 19 touchdowns on 255 carries (including playoffs) to lead the Dragons to the district finals. Averaged 6.2 yards a carry. Also had three sacks and two interceptions at linebacker. All-league selection. ‘I haven't seen a guy all year that I've said I'd rather have him over Roger,' coach Chris Bell said. ‘I wouldn't trade Roger for anyone in the state. He's that good.'"

Here is what the Eccentric Newspapers had to say about Roger when it named him First Team All-Eccentric Area at RB: "ROGER ALLISON, Lake Orion: One of the state's more punishing ballcarriers, Allison finds his way onto the first team after churning up more than 1,600 yards and scoring 21 touchdowns. A junior and captain for the Dragons, Allison also provided a punch defensively at linebacker, totaling 102 tackles and collecting two interceptions. ‘He sets the tempo,' Bell said. ‘He's a great football player and is one of the toughest players I have even seen. Roger physically punishes people on both sides of the ball."

Word from insiders is that Roger is the real deal and can play at the very highest level of the Big Ten, or anywhere, for that matter. Although Roger has been compared to current Michigan recruit Jim Presley as they are about the same size, play the same positions and are suburban Detroiters, Roger and Jim are very different sorts of prospects. Presley has that splendid combination of size and speed that gets recruitnicks all worked up. He is, however, more of an ‘athlete playing football'. Roger doesn't possess Presley's pure speed, however he has tremendous football speed and he is truly a football player with solid athleticism. Wouldn't it be something to watch them playing together for the Wolverines in the years ahead?

And, finally, if you missed it here is what Allison's father had to say to Tom Beaver about Roger a few days ago:

"Roger's not true tailback ... he's a tailback/fullback, and a linebacker. He's not a track guy, he's football fast. He's one of the few kids I've seen that doesn't slow down with pads on."

"Roger is one of those kids that's always wanted to be a pro footballer. Since he was a little kid he just always said, 'I'm gonna play pro football'. He's got all the attributes ...speed, size, and strength."




Michigan Junior to Watch: Trent Varva
(Pictured: In green, on the right)

Name: Trent Varva
School: Lake Orion
State: Michigan
Position: Offensive Guard
Height: 6-3
Weight: 303 lbs.
Forty: 5.0 sec.
GPA: 3.0

2002 Honors: Oakland Press Pre-season Oakland County Super 60; Detroit Free Press First Team Division 1 All-State; Detroit News Honorable Mention Class A All-State; Associated Press Honorable Mention Class A All-State; Detroit News Second Team All-Metro Detroit; Detroit Free Press First Team All-Metro North; Detroit News First Team All-Metro North; Oakland Press First Team All Oakland County; Eccentric Newspapers First Team All-Area.

Well, you all already know about Roger Allison, but there are a couple of other prospects at Lake Orion who are receiving serious Big Ten interest. In fact, one of those youngsters, Trent Varva, was named First Team All-State as a mere junior. That's a rare honor for an offensive lineman.

His head coach, Chris Bell, had this to say about Trent in late January: "Trent Varva is 6-3,300 and runs a 5.0 forty. He started for us as a junior at both OG and DT. He's the best high school lineman I've ever seen. He just mauls people. He has tremendous explosiveness, great strength, great feet and great agility. He's very aggressive and very intelligent. He just dominates. Everybody who sees him loves him. The Stanford defensive line coach said that he's a great athlete and a big guy who plays hard. He is being looked at by all the majors. The MAC schools have told me that they won't even be in the ballpark for his services as he will be going big-time. Stanford really likes him. Michigan is interested as well. He has a 3.0 GPA."

An opposing head coach had this to say about him in early February: "I've heard a lot about him from college recruiters as being the best lineman returning in the state next year."

Here is what the Detroit Free Press had to say about Trent when it named him First Team All-Metro North: "OG TRENT VARVA School: Lake Orion. Class: Junior. Size: 6-3, 300. Highlights: Two-year starter with tremendous drive and strength. Benches more than 300 pounds. As DT, made 42 tackles, three sacks. Coach Chris Bell: ‘He's got the explosiveness and the speed of a fullback. Put that with his upper-body strength and he is dominant. When he pulls, he destroys people.' 3.0 GPA."

Here is what the Detroit News had to say about Trent when it named him First Team All-Metro North: "Trent Varva, Lake Orion: Varva, a junior, is ‘one of the most dominating offensive lineman ever seen in high school football,' Coach Chris Bell said. The two-year starter led the team in knockdowns, and as a defensive tackle, he had 42 tackles and two sacks."

Here is what the Oakland Press had to say about Trent when it named him First Team All-Oakland County: "OL Trent Varva, Lake Orion (6-3, 300) jr. - The county's premier lineman totaled more than 70 knockdowns at guard. Quick feet make him a wrecking ball when he pulls. Also had 47 tackles and two sacks on defense. ‘Trent's a rare breed,' coach Chris Bell said. ‘For someone to move and run and be the athlete he is at 300 pounds is phenomenal. I've never seen anybody as big as he is with the explosiveness, the coordination that he has."

Here is what the Eccentric Newspapers had to say about Trent when it named him First Team All-Eccentric Area at OL: "TRENT VARVA, Lake Orion: Playing in his second varsity season, the 6-3, 300-pound Varva proved to be a real load for defenders. A junior, Varva emerged as one of the area's top offensive guards and defensive tackles (47 tackles, two sacks). ‘He's the real deal,'' Dragons coach Chris Bell said. ‘He's very explosive, quick for a big guy and really physical. He could finish blocks and you couldn't move him."

Trent Varva is certainly one of the elite offensive line prospects in the state and he is most definitely on Michigan's radar screen. The only negative, as far as I can ascertain, is his lack of height compared to other Michigan lineman. If he were an inch or two taller he would be a no-brainer Michigan recruit. At just 6-3, however, he may be on the borderline. His play in the combines and summer camps will be critical in showing whether his outstanding skills make up for his lack of stature.




Michigan Junior to Watch: Will Johnson
(Pictured: In green, on the left)
Name: Will Johnson
School: Lake Orion
State: Michigan
Position: Defensive Line/Offensive Line
Height: 6-4 1/2
Weight: 270 lbs.
Forty: 4.8 sec.
Bench Press: 300+ lbs.
Squat: 500+

2002 Honors: Detroit Free Press Honorable Mention All-Metro North (L); Oakland Press Second Team All-Oakland County (DL); Eccentric Newspapers First Team All-Area (LB).

Roger Allison and Trent Varva received most of the ink amongst the Lake Orion underclassmen, but Will Johnson is a real sleeper prospect to keep an eye on.

Will's head coach, Chris Bell, had this to say about him in late January: "Will Johnson is 6-4 1/2, 270 and runs a 4.8 forty. He started as a junior at outside linebacker and will also play offensive tackle as a senior. He's very strong, with a 500-pound plus squat and 300-pound plus bench press. He's also a very intense individual. He projects as an offensive lineman or defensive lineman in college. He's still growing and is a little raw. He's still learning the game. He improved tremendously as a junior. He's learning to play with speed. When he plays full-speed he's awesome and you can't block him. He's a tough guy. All of the big schools are taking a look at him."

Here is what the Eccentric Newspapers had to say about Will when it named him First Team All-Eccentric Area at LB: "WILL JOHNSON, Lake Orion: A junior competing in his initial varsity season, Johnson was a force for the Dragons from his outside linebacker/defensive end position. The 6-4, 255-pound Johnson helped the Dragons gain a share of the OAA Division 1 title and chalk up a post-season victory. ‘He's a real force,'' said Dragons coach Chris Bell. ‘He grew into the position and came a long way. He learned the position and could really dominate."

Will is a youngster whose nice combination of size and speed really intrigue. That's why numerous major colleges, including Michigan, are keeping an eye on him. He is still a bit raw as a player but he has really grown the past couple of years (as did Jake Long, by the way, who was a relative unknown one year ago). His size, strength and the agility that enabled him to start at linebacker for a strong high school program mark him as one of the state's better prospects for 2003. He may not currently be the same level prospect as teammates Roger Allison and Trent Varva, but he has loads of potential and time is on his side.

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