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The top 100 high school athletes of all time: State Champs Mr. Football winner and ‘Thunder Dan’ on list, Nos. 71-80

By: Tom Markowski, July 13, 2017, 9:08 pm

The following is a list of the top 100 male athletes in the history of Michigan high school athletics. This list was created after hours of compiling facts and opinions. In analyzing data and comparing athletes of the 1920s to those of the 1990s and beyond we found difficulty in imagining how the athletes of the past would compare and compete against the present-day athlete. The adage, ‘bigger, stronger, faster’, must be applied but one cannot overlook the records and achievements of those in the 1930s, ‘40s and earlier.

It is the intent of State Champs to expose and honor the achievements of athletes, some of whom our readers might not be familiar with and to create conversation on just who were some of the best. 

We have a few guidelines for athletes to be considered for this list. One is they had to attend high school, for at least one school year, in Michigan. They also had to compete in sports at the high school they attended. Playing for club teams and travel teams outside of the school are not within these guidelines.

Athletes like boxers Joe Louis and Chris Byrd, for example, did not, as far as our research could ascertain, compete in athletics, at least in boxing, their main sport, in high school.

Other athletes, like hockey standout Mike Modano, who did not play for his high school team, are excluded as well.

State Champs would like to thank Wikipedia, MHSAA historian Ron Pesch, Detroit area historian Bill Hoover and others like Michigan sports writers Denny Grall and Bill Kahn for their expertise. These, and others, provided so much of the information and opinions about these athletes that made this project possible.  

It must be noted that much of the information obtained, especially on some of the Negro League players, was sketchy.

The following is a list of athletes ranked Nos. 71 through 80. Next week we will release the athletes ranked 61-70.


71. Prescott Line, Oxford, Southern Methodist, Michigan State: As a wrestler Line is a two-time champion (2011, ‘12) in the 215-pound weight class in Division 1. Selected a PARADE All-America his senior year. Line was named 2011 Mr. Football in Michigan by State Champs and was also the Associated Press Division 1-2 Player of the Year. He was named to the Detroit Free Press Dream Team as a senior. Excelled at running back and linebacker, setting a school and league record with 2,454 rushing yards on 364 carries (6.7 avg.) in 2011 with 38 TDs. He recorded 159 tackles as a senior.

72. William Gholston, Detroit Mumford, Detroit Southeastern, Michigan State, Buccaneers (NFL): A two-time first team all-state selection, Gholston was named the No. 1 Blue Chip prospect in 2010 by The Detroit News. He was also named a USA Today All-America. Gholston started on the basketball team at Southeastern and was a force his junior season but unable to play his senior season because he participated in a high school all-star football game. Twice he was named all-Big Ten and had a stellar career with the Spartans. He was taken in the fourth round in the 2013 NFL draft by Tampa Bay and this past March he resigned with the Buccaneers.

  1. Sammy Gee, Detroit Miller, Negro League Baseball, Globetrotters:  Gee was reportedly the first black recruit to Notre Dame for football. In the late 40s Gee was considered by many as the best all-around athlete the city of Detroit ever had. In addition to his time in the Negro Leagues (Detroit Stars, New York Cubans), Gee also played in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ minor league system. The Detroit Free Press named Gee first team all-state in basketball in 1947 and second team in ’46. Gee played for the Globetrotters and became a world class fast-pitch softball player. He was inducted into the Metro Detroit Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame in 1988. Gee was named Retro Mr. Basketball (1947) by Ron Pesch (MHSAA Historian).


  1. Darnell Dickerson, Detroit King, Pittsburgh: Dickerson was named the No. 1 Blue Chip player by the Detroit News in 1987. One recruiting service had Dickerson ranked in the top 10 in the country. He started on the basketball team, was a catcher in baseball and also ran track in the same season. He made all-state in football, basketball and baseball. Former King football coach James Reynolds said that Dickerson might have been the best player he coached. Dickerson played quarterback for Pitt and later played in the Kansas City Royals minor league system.


  1. Jason Richardson, Saginaw Arthur Hill, Michigan State, Warriors, Hornets, Suns, Magic, 76ers (NBA): Richardson was the recipient of the 1999 Mr. Basketball Award as he led the Lumberjacks to the Class A final. He was a McDonald’s All-America and earned All-America honors at MSU his sophomore season. His freshman season he averaged five points as the Spartans won the NCAA title. His sophomore season he helped MSU reach the Final Four. Richardson was selected as the No. 5 pick overall in the NBA Draft by Golden State. Considered one of the best dunkers of all time, Richardson won back-to-back Slam Dunk titles joining Michael Jordan as the only two players to do so. He played 13 NBA seasons and averaged 17.1 points and five rebounds. In 2006 he led the Warriors to their first playoff appearance in 13 seasons. In 2010 he helped the Suns reach the Western Conference final.


  1. Dan Majerle, Traverse City High, Central Michigan, Suns, Cavaliers, Heat (NBA): He averaged 37.5 points per game his senior year and led the Trojans to the Class A quarterfinals. Majerle was also a terrific baseball player (catcher in high school, first baseman at CMU). Had a workout with the Dallas Cowboys after college. Majerle played four years at CMU and averaged of 21.8 points and 8.9 rebounds a game. He also used to hold season high records in points scored until Marcus Keene Marcus broke them in the 2016-17 season. He played 14 years in the NBA, primarily with Phoenix. The Suns selected Majerle as the No. 14 pick overall in the NBA 1988 draft. He was a three-time NBA all-star. Majerle won a bronze medal with at the 1988 Olympics and won a gold medal at the ’94 FIBA World Championship. He is currently the head coach at Grand Canyon, a Division I school in Arizona.


  1. David Bowens, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, Michigan/Western Illinois, Packers, Bills, Redskins, Dolphins, Jets, Browns (NFL): Bowens was the Detroit News No. 1 Blue Chip prospect in 1995. He also started on the basketball team that reached the Class C final in 1994. He also lettered in track. Bowens was an outstanding player in college (Division 1-AA All-America in 1998) and was selected in the fifth round by the Broncos in the ’99 draft. He played 12 NFL seasons, mostly as an inside linebacker.


78. Brent Metcalf, Davison, Iowa: Metcalf is one of 22 who are four-time champions in wrestling and Davison competes in the highest division. In 2002 he won the 130-pound title, the next season he won at 140 and his last two seasons he won at 145. Metcalf finished his prep career with a 228-0 career record including 156 pins. Davison won the state title in each of Metcalf’s four seasons. He was named Mr. Wrestler in 2005, was Wrestling USA All-America and a Wrestling USA scholastic All-America. Metcalf is also a six-time Junior National champion. He’s a two-time NCAA champion (149 pounds) and finished his collegiate career with a record of 108-3 (.973). One of his losses was in the 2009 final. Metcalf also achieved much success internationally representing the U.S. in freestyle competition.


79. Don Coleman, Flint Central, Michigan State, Cardinals (NFL): Coleman only played one season of football at Central and that fact holds him back from being rated higher on our list. He participated in swimming at Central his first three years before convincing his mother to allow him to play football. He was named all-state as a lineman and helped Central to a mythical state championship. At 178 pounds, he was the lightest player on the 1949 Michigan State football team. Coleman made up for what he lacked in size with quickness and intensity. Long-time MSU sports information director Fred Stabley said in 1972 that Coleman was one of the two best players he saw at MSU. Coleman was also the first unanimous All-America football player at MSU and was its first African-American All-America. As a senior year in 1951, Coleman was selected MVP on an undefeated team.


  1. Tony Dungy, Jackson Parkside, Minnesota, Steelers, 49ers (NFL): A three-sport athlete at Parkside, Dungy was all-state in football and basketball. His ’68 Jackson Little League baseball team won a state championship. He started for four seasons at quarterback at Minnesota and finished as the program’s career leader in pass attempts, completions, yards passing and TD passes. As a defensive back he led the Steelers in interceptions during their 1978 Super Bowl-winning season. At 25, he became the youngest assistant coach in NFL history. He was the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl (Colts, 2007) and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2016.


Here are Nos. 81-100.                                   

81. Chet Walker, Benton Harbor, Bulls (NBA)

82. Donovan Peoples-Jones, Detroit Cass Tech, Michigan

83. Clay Youngquist, Battle Creek Lakeview, Texas

84. Joe Barksdale, Detroit Cass Tech, Louisiana State, Raiders, Rams, Chargers (NFL)

85. George “The Gipper” Gipp, Calumet High, Notre Dame

  1. Curtis Jones, Detroit Northwestern, North Idaho Junior College
  2. Walt Owens, Detroit Northwestern., Western Michigan (Negro League Baseball)
  3. Andy Greene, Trenton, Devils, (NHL)
  4. Rudy Tomjanovich, Hamtramck, Michigan, Rockets (NBA)
  5. Charlie Justice, Hamtramck/Detroit Northern, Globetrotters. 
  6. George Goeddeke, Detroit St. David, Notre Dame, Broncos (AFL/NFL)
  7. "Jumpin’ Johnny" Kline, Detroit Northwestern/Detroit Northeastern, Wayne State, Globetrotters
  8. Earl Brown, Jr., Benton Harbor, Notre Dame
  9. Harry Kipke, Lansing Central, Michigan
  10. Gary Hoobeboom, Grand Rapids Northview, Central Michigan, Cowboys (NFL)
  11. Steve Beck, Southeastern, Arizona State
  12. Wilbert "Wilbur" King, Detroit Pershing, Negro League Baseball, Globetrotters
  13. Steve Fraser, Hazel Park, Michigan (Olympics)
  14. Phil Regan, Wayland Union, Western Michigan, Tigers, Dodgers, Cubs (MLB)
  15. Mike Kadish, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Notre Dame, Dolphins, Bills (NFL)