Skyline adds highly-recruited transfers to a group of experienced players and looks to challenge for its first playoff run
Ann Arbor – Expectations will be unusually high at Ann Arbor Skyline for the upcoming football season, considering the program still hasn’t reached puberty and the Eagles are coming off of their worst season.
That’s what happens when a team that has never qualified for the playoffs in its five previous years of existence and is trying to rebound from a 0-9 season, snags the services of the much-traveled and arguably the No. 1 player in the state in linebacker-running back Daelin Hayes.
Add to this a true sleeper of a Division I college recruit in another transfer – Joe Walker (Farmington Hills Harrison by way of Wayne Memorial) – while returning a five-pack of standout sophomores, including receiver Hunter Rison (Michigan State and Arizona State scholarship offers) and running back-linebacker Charles Jones, Jr., who has received scholarship offers from Mid-American Conference schools.
“Things could be drastically different,” Skyline coach Chanterius Brock said. “We’re expecting to be much better. Even without the transfers, we knew were going to be able to take a big step as a team because we’ve got good young talent, dedicated kids and it will be the first full offseason my staff and I will have inside the program.”
Brock, formerly the head coach at St. Clair Shores South Lake and a longtime assistant in the Detroit area, didn’t get the Skyline job until late June of 2014. The staff he’s been able to assemble is impressive, filled with veterans and highlighted by his top assistant and the team’s offensive coordinator, Andre Rison. He’s Hunter’s dad and made his name as a NFL Michigan State receiver. Rison went to Flint Northwestern and was an all-state selection in basketball and football.
Both imposing physical athletes and incoming seniors in 2015, neither Hayes (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) nor Walker (6-5, 245) played a game at the schools they are directly coming from.
Hayes, a four-star recruit who committed to Southern California, enrolled at Skyline in January after spending two months at Detroit Cass Tech following a mid-semester transfer (parental custody issues) from St. Bonaventure, Calif., where he played half the 2014 season. Before heading to California, Hayes was at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s as a freshman and sophomore.
“Daelin is going to do a ton of different things for us this fall, we’ll line him up all over the place,” said Brock of how he intends on using Hayes. “We’re not good enough not to. He can be a true difference maker in so many ways in every facet of the game.”
Walker, a quarterback and tight end currently being recruited by Division II and mid-major Division I college programs, arrived at Skyline in April after spending the first three months of second semester enrolled at Harrison following playing the last three years at Wayne Memorial. He started under center at quarterback for the Zebras in 2014 and was forced to relocate to Ann Arbor from a prior new residence in Farmington Hills, which his family bought back in December and was forced to flee last month when they discovered toxic mold.
Brock will allow Walker and last season’s back-up, Roman Milot (6-3, 230), to compete for the starting quarterback spot. If Walker doesn’t play quarterback, he’ll play tight end, the position he’s being looked at most by college recruiters.
“Joe has size, strength, a nice arm and solid footwork,” Brock said. “I’m pretty confident he can help us a lot wherever he ends up fitting in.”
The younger Rison has a tremendous upside as well.
"That kid is big time," Brock said. "Hunter has the chance to be an elite national recruit, that’s the kind of skill he possesses catching the football."