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STATE CHAMPS! SCOUT TEAM: DeWitt quarterback Ty Holtz commits to Brown; Dakota’s Smalarz and Nixon find collegiate homes

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, August 9, 2021, 9:05 pm

When you think about the fact that Ty Holtz has more accolades — a state title, AP Player of the Year honors in D3 and a finalist finish in the 2020 Mr. Football race — in just one season as a starting quarterback than many do in a four-year career, you have to wonder what he’ll be able to do with a little bit more experience under his belt.

That’s got to be exactly what coaches at Brown University are rubbing their hands together about, after the DeWitt quarterback committed to the Ivy League program on Monday. 

In his commitment post on Twitter, Holtz thanked his parents “for never letting me get complacent. Thank you for teaching me to embrace adversity in the toughest moments, as that mentality will stay with me beyond football.” 

He also thanked the Brown coaching staff — head coach James Perry, wide receivers coach Eric Bunker and quarterbacks coach Heather Marini — for “believing in the short QB that could never play at a high level.” 

Listed at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, Holtz may not have the stature that NFL general managers covet in first-round draft picks, but his stats from an inaugural season under center for the Division 3 champion Panthers speak for themselves. 

He passed for 2,396 yards and 35 touchdowns against just two interceptions, and ran for 452 yards and four scores, including 118 yards and a score in the title-game win over River Rouge. 

Holtz had other offers from Dayton, Eastern Illinois, Ferris State, Northwood and Saginaw Valley State. A two-star prospect, 247Sports ranked Holtz as the No. 166 quarterback in the nation, and the No. 66 player in Michigan’s class of 2022. Only Saline’s Larry Robinson (Army, No. 39) and Country Day’s Brandon Mann (uncommitted, No. 51) rank ahead of Holtz among senior quarterbacks in Michigan, according to the recruiting service. 

Holtz didn’t start the season among the candidates for the STATE CHAMPS! Mr. Football Award, but he finished the season there, one of four finalists — along with Belleville’s record-setting QB Christian Dhue-Reid, Muskegon Mona Shores’ two-time champion Brady Rose, and the eventual winner, West Bloomfield running back Donovan Edwards. 

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Dakota’s Nixon and Smalarz find college homes

Macomb Dakota cornerback Keyone Nixon has accepted a preferred walk-on offer at Akron, while offensive lineman Riley Smalarz committed to Northern Michigan. 

A transfer from L’Anse Creuse, Nixon is a two-star recruit, ranking just inside the top 100 players in Michigan’s class of 2022, according to 247Sports rankings. 

The offers started flooding in for Nixon in late May, starting with Northwood and Valparaiso, Lawrence Tech, Northern Michigan and Culver Stockton, leading up to the walk-on offer from the Zips on Aug. 3. Three days later, Nixon accepted Akron’s offer. 

The offers picked up shortly after helped Dakota to a fourth-place finish in the four-by-100 relay at the Division 1 state track meet in the spring, after two top-three relay finishes en route to a regional title. 

As a junior, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Nixon had 24 tackles and nine pass breakups, earning first-team all-county, all-league and all-region honors, as well as all-state honorable mention, after recording 30 tackles, an interception and four breakups as a sophomore.

Smalarz had offers from Siena Heights, Lawrence Tech and Southwest Minnesota State. The 6-foot-2, 295-pounder has experience at both guard and center for Dakota.