The Detroit News is counting down the top 15 players on its list of Blue Chip football recruits. Today: No. 15 Mike Danna of Warren De La Salle.
Warren — Central Michigan coach Dan Enos will be bringing in the type of player in defensive end Mike Danna that could put his program over the top in terms of winning a Mid-American Conference championship.
Danna's ceiling, or upside, is incredibly high. He showed his ability as a playmaker by leading Warren De La Salle to the Division 2 state championship this past fall at age 16 after returning from a broken leg that sidelined him for five games.
Danna, a member of The News' Dream Team, grew two inches and put on 15 pounds from his junior to senior year and now stands as a big (6-foot-3) and strong (230 pounds) defensive end with a 35-inch vertical to give him the ability to knock down passes.
He just turned 17 last month and says he is completely healthy. He benches 315 and did three reps of a 330 power clean … compared to the Lions' Ndamukong Suh's 345-pound power-clean lift.
Danna suffered a broken leg in the first half of the season opener and still finished the game. He missed five games and De La Salle struggled to a 3-3 record before his return.
Danna talked about his highlights, which started with his return.
"My comeback was against U of D (Jesuit) and I didn't know how I would do after missing five games," Danna said. "I had four sacks and had a scoop and score (20-yard fumble TD return) and that took away all my worries. It was a great feeling to be back and I just focused on having fun, helping my team after that."
Danna's ultimate highlight came with the regional championship win over three-time defending state champion Birmingham Brother Rice, avenging an earlier 28-21 loss with him on the sidelines.
"I had missed the first game and it felt like Christmas all over again with that win," said Danna of defeating Brother Rice and Michigan-bound quarterback Alex Malzone, 26-21 to end Rice's 33-game winning streak. "We showed up and stopped them and I had two or three sacks and knocked down passes to help us disrupt them."
De La Salle went on to earn a 44-8 win over Muskegon Mona Shores in the state championship game.
"We had a great all-around program, a great group of players and we were able to get to the promised land," said Danna, who has a 3.4 grade-point-average and plans to study mechanical engineering at CMU. "It was a great season and I was happy to make it back on the field."