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February 06, 2012
By: Scott Keyes

Oakland Raiders Jared Veldheer reflects on National Signing Day

Many area football players sign their names on the dotted line



Jeff Chaney

Sports Scene

Jared Veldheer remembers this time of the year.

The starting left tackle from the Oakland Raiders remembers the excitement of signing his letter of intent to play college football, leaving his high school career behind and starting his college career.

That was 2005, when Veldheer graduated from Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern High School and signed on to play at Hillsdale College.

So that is why Veldheer showed up Wednesday, signing day, to support 35 West Michigan players representing 15 high school at WBBL-FM's Signing Day Celebration at Celebration Cinema North Studio.

I'm excited for all these guys who are ready to go play in college,” Veldheer said. “It's a great day for them.”

Veldheer, the 2010 third-round draft pick of the Raiders, was also there to help a lending hand to the newest college players.

I've started PowerStrength, it's a gym geared around football training. I wanted to be here to reach out to some of the guys, because I know how hard it is to go from high school to the college level.”

Veldheer knows the importance of power and training. The 6-foot-9, 320-pound Veldheer has built himself into one of the top offensive tackles in the NFL in just his second year.

We want to help get these guys ready for college football, and that means working on their explosion,” Veldheer said.

Although he was happy to attend Wednesday's festivities, Veldheer would have been happy to be in Indianapolis preparing to play in the Super Bowl.

But Oakland missed the playoffs, finishing 8-8, including losing four of its last five games.

Our goal was to win the AFC West, and we came up short,” Veldheer said. “I'm already getting ready for next season.”

That new season will be with a new coaching staff. The Raiders hired Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to replace coach Hue Jackson this offseason.

It's exciting to meet all the new coaches and all the new faces,” Veldheer said. “I do understand why everything happened. I've heard from a teammate that met coach Allen that he's a great guy.





Ben Braden, OT, 6-7, 320, Michigan

Mark LaPrairie, QB, 6-1, 182, Hillsdale

Steven Mette, K 6-1, 175, Hillsdale

Aaron Weston, TE, 6-6, 245, Wayne State

Anthony DeDamos, LB, 6-2, 220, Wayne State

Matt Boonstra, DL, 6-2, 235, Northern Michigan

West Catholic

Tony Brechting, OL, 6-3, 285, Michigan Tech

Andy Zimmerman, OL/DL, 6-6, 260, Wayne State

Jalin Faison, RB/LB, 6-1, 210, Ferris State


DeAndre Grady, WR/DB, 5-11, 175, Wayne State

David Drummond, RB, 5-8, 170, Saginaw Valley

Zeeland East

Ross Ebels, CB, 6-0, 175, Saginaw Valley

Jordan Hill, WR, 6-3, 210, Saginaw Valley

Paul Baker, OL/DL, 6-2, 250, Saginaw Valley

T.J. Beelen, DL, 6-4, 275, Southern Illinois

GR Christian

Kavon Frazier, S, 6-2, 205, Central Michigan

Wes Johnson, DE, 6-4, 210, Ball State

Robert Cuba, DL, 6-1, 265, Ferris State

Christian Benn, WR/DB, 5-11, 176, Northwood

Nate Mitogo, DL, 6-3, 220, College of the Canyons

Grand Haven

Danny Cotter, WR, 6-2, 170, Butler

Dakota Smith, RB, 5-8, 180, Northern Michigan

Torrey Appel, DL, 6-3, 253, Ferris State

Scott Staal, QB, 6-1, 195, Valparaiso


Scott Tackett, DL, 6-5, 230, Grand Valley

Kenowa Hills

Kitwana Clark, RB, 5-10, 190, Ferris State

Catholic Central

Kevin Vicari, RB, 5-9, 195, Grand Valley

South Christian

Brandon Haan, P, 6-2, 210, Grand Valley

Ottawa Hills

Jalen Couch, QB, 5-9, 180, Ferris State


Tyler Hanks, WR, 5-10, 170, Ferris State

Byron Center

Chad Burnside, DL, 6-2, 250, Ferris State

Zeeland West

Josh Blanton, LB, 6-2, 215, Ferris State

Kyle Kujawa, DB, 5-11, 190, Ferris State


Brad Speet, LB, 6-1, 215, Ferris State

Midland High

Midland High had three seniors sign letters of intent on national signing day Wednesday, Feb. 1. 

Vieau and Wylie are both expected to play the offensive line in the collegiate ranks, while David Walter, who played wide receiver in high school, could either remain a wide out or move to tight end or to the back field, according to Chemic head coach Eric Methner.

"I'm just really excited for these kids," the coach said. "They've all worked extremely hard I'm just pleased for them and their families. It's very rewarding to see all their work paid off."


Ben Murphy, Alan Holben and Mike Schutt Contributed to this report.