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FOOTBALL RECRUITING: String of college commitments highlight Holiday Season on the state’s HS gridiron

By: Scott Burnstein, December 24, 2013, 8:00 am

The New Year will be ushered in with new playing locales for a series of the state’s top high school football players.

Several gridiron stars from the state’s Class of 2014 committed to colleges in the last few days, five of them heading to Division I programs at the next level.

Birmingham Detroit Country Day quarterback Tyler Wiegers (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) committed to Iowa, Birmingham Brother Rice wide receiver Corey Lacanaria (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) committed to Ball State and Temperance Bedford defensive lineman Jeremy Harris (6-foot-4, 260 pounds), Bridgeman kicker Cooper Mojsiejenko and Waterford Our Lad of the Lakes offensive lineman Brandon Keen (6-foot-5, 295 pounds) all committed to Central Michigan.

Wiegers, a pure drop-back passer with great field vision and a lightning bolt of an arm, had first committed to Rutgers back in the summer before de-committing last month. He threw for close 2,500 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior and 2,200 yards and 19 touchdowns this past season. In 2012, he guided the Yellowjackets into the Division 4 state championship game.

A two-time all-state selection under center, Wiegers is tabbed a consensus four-star recruit by scouting services.

Proximity might have played a role in his choice to jump from New Jersey-based Rutgers on the East Coast to Iowa in the Heartland.

"I like that I’ve decided to stay in the Midwest," he said. "I grew up watching a lot of Hawkeyes football, so I feel like I know about the tradition and how much the team means to the people there. I’m very excited about the future and for the opportunity to play my college career at Iowa."

Lacanaria could have been the No. 1 “possession receiver” in the state, just as consistent as could be. He caught 65 balls for 1,111 yards and eight touchdown grabs in a 2013 campaign where he missed a third of the regular season with a concussion.

Harris is a terror off the edge, racking up 75 tackles, six sacks and close to 25 hurries during his senior year to head the Kicking Mules’ defense en route to a league and district title.

Mojsiejenko was an all-state kicker and punter in 2013 and Keen helped lead WOLL to its first Catholic League title in eight years.

Besides the DI ranks, the Ivy League got in on the action, too, snagging Brother Rice safety Jason Alessi (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) and defensive lineman Alberto Sandoval (6-foot-4, 265 pounds), Stoney Creek’s multi-skilled Sean Scullen (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) and Three Rivers’ offensive lineman Connor Smith (6-foot-5, 260 pounds).

Alessi committed Yale and Sandoval, Scullen and Smith each committed to Cornell.

Sandoval and Alessi, along with Lacanaria, were catalysts for Brother Rice this year in its successful path to a third straight state championship, completing the storied program’s first undefeated season in three decades.

While Sandoval topped the Warriors tackle sheet with 76 wrap-ups to go with six sacks, Alessi was the captain of the secondary, calling signals for the team’s defense from the back-end and recording 60 tackles and five interceptions.

The journey to the college pigskin landscape was a wild and strange one for Alessi, a true difference-maker in multiple sports for Brother Rice.

The captain of the Warriors state superpower lacrosse squad, he had originally been committed to playing with the stick in his hands in the Big Ten at the University of Michigan, making the pledge to the Wolverines LAX program in the early spring of 2012. His stellar senior season on the gridiron had college scouts salivating and eventually led to his vacating of his lacrosse commitment to Michigan and re-opening his recruitment to include football.

Not just a lockdown, ball-hawk of a talent in the secondary, Alessi was one of the most accurate placekickers in state history and a lethal weapon in the return game. In the small instances he saw time on offense, he showed bursts of brilliance there as well.

Scullen was a three-year all-league pick who lined up all over the field doing all kinds of destruction, but will most likely strictly be a safety in college. His playmaking spurred a resurgence in the Stoney Creek program when he was a junior and senior.

One of the best in the trenches on the west side of the state, Smith was crucial in Three Rivers’ run to a district championship in 2012 as a junior.