This is the 13th in a series of profiles on the top 15 players on The Detroit News Blue Chip list. Today: No. 3, Grand Rapids Catholic Central offensive lineman Jalen Mayfield.
Jalen Mayfield got bigger, stronger and more athletic, showing a Warrior-like mentality to help Grand Rapids Catholic Central repeat as Division 4 state champions.
Mayfield was dominant on both sides of the ball, opening holes as an offensive lineman to help running back Nolan Fugate rush for 3,004 yards while also causing havoc as a defensive end, making life miserable for opposing quarterbacks.
And, Mayfield made sure his senior year would be his best season, spending countless hours in the weight room during the off season to get stronger.
Mayfield, who earned a spot on The News Dream Team, will play at Michigan, picking the Wolverines over Notre Dame, Michigan State and several other top schools.
“I thought the season, for me personally, was a very successful season,” Mayfield said. “I think I played the best I’ve probably played, think I grew as a leader and I think that was the biggest part of me becoming the person I am now.
“Definitely, strength was another improvement. My junior year I wasn’t as strong as I was and sometimes that would lead to me getting beat and I don’t think I ever got beat this season. I really improved strength-wise. I played at 6-5 and 250 pounds my junior year, this season played at 6-6, 275. My junior year, I couldn’t even bench 225 one time and this year I can bench 225 12 times.”
Mayfield showed his Warrior-like mentality in the first postseason game, a 32-26 victory over Hudsonville Unity Christian.
“I’d have to say our first-round game against Unity Christian was my highlight, my most memorable game,” explained Mayfield. “Nobody really knows this, but leading up to the game I had a kidney stone so I was in the hospital a couple of hours before the game and wasn’t sure if I was going to play or not, and then I ended up probably playing the best game of the season, had like 19 tackles on defense and played a great game on offense.
“I didn’t pass it (kidney stone) until like three days afterwards. It felt really uncomfortable (playing), but it could have been my last game ever so I had to play for those guys. They really counted on me and I couldn’t let them down.”
So, why Michigan?
“I chose Michigan because of the relationship with the coaches and how comfortable I felt there,” pointed out Mayfield who was recruited by Michigan as an offensive lineman. “I just think the people that are there and the people they are trying to bring into the school are just incredible so I really look forward to playing for Coach Harbaugh and Coach Drevno.”
Mayfield was also an all-state defensive end.
“The whole off season we talked about explosiveness and quickness and having great technique and I think that translates both offensively and defensively, but most people recognize my defense because of the stats I put up,” said Mayfield who had 89 tackles, including 17 sacks. “All off season we were focused on becoming more explosive and powerful and I think that’s what ultimately led to me having a successful season on defense.”
Now, Mayfield, who has a 3.0 grade-point-average and plans to major in business management, is trying to bring Fugate with him to Michigan.
Despite becoming just the second player in state history to rush for 3,000-plus yards in a single season — and having 4.5 speed — Fugate is still without a Division 1 offer, but has a preferred walk-on spot from Michigan.
“Right now, it’s up in the air,” said Mayfield on Fugate’s plans. “I know he has a preferred walk-on spot at Michigan and I’m trying to push him there, but he hasn’t made his decision yet.
“He doesn’t have a Division 1 offer. He’s a 4.5 guy and pretty big (6-1, 210) too so I’m pretty surprised. He’s been my best friend the last four years. Teams are kind of sleeping on him, but God has a plan for everybody and I’m sure he’ll find the right program for him.”
BLUE CHIP PROFILES