Brighton's Ruben Salinas among under-the-radar receivers off to hot starts

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Ruben Salinas

Brighton – Indiana-bound Rashawn Williams of Detroit King, Oak Park standout Maliq Carr and Northwestern-bound Abdur-Rahman Yaseen of Walled Lake Western are among the most well known receivers in the area.

But there are others flying under the radar who are off to great starts.

Ruben Salinas moved to Brighton last winter from Texas after the death of his father. He moved in with his older sister and is feeling right at home with quarterback Colby Newburg tossing the ball his way.

Newburg has made all of Brighton’s receivers feel at home, spreading the ball around to eight of them in last Friday’s 35-13 rout of Hartland. He has thrown for 380 yards and six TDs the last two weeks.

Salinas is Newburg’s primary threat, grabbing two TD catches in each of the last two games.

Salinas gives defensive backs problems with his size (6-foot-3, 180 pounds), speed (4.5 40) and great route running ability.

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“I fit in perfect, made friends with everybody and things are going awesome,” said Salinas, who had 700 receiving yards and six TDs last season as a junior for Rowe High School in McAllen, Texas. “Colby is a really talented quarterback, he’s accurate. We’d come to the field before the season started, practice plays, running posts and slants, just getting all the work in and it’s paid off.”

Colby Newburg

Salinas was a big University of Texas fan growing up but now likes Michigan State and hopes to get some attention from the Spartans coaching staff. He said his top strengths are his “speed and high-point ability.”

“He came in from Texas late (last year), so we jumped right into practicing routes,” Newburg said of Salinas. “We threw a couple of times a week. He high-points it really well and he’s fast too where he’ll burn by kids and I just have to throw it up to him. We’re good friends. I’m good friends with all of the receivers, and I feel comfortable throwing to all of them.”

No. 20 Brighton (3-0) plays at unbeaten Plymouth Friday in a KLAA West Division game.

Clarkston senior Matt Miller is another receiver who is quickly making a name for himself, hauling in 13 passes for 356 yards and five TDs. He has grabbed two TD passes in each of the last two games from sophomore Mike DePillo.

“He has great hands and has gotten stronger,” said Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson of the 5-11, 175-pound Miller. “He runs very precise routes. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he runs those good routes and is a great competitor. The biggest thing that he’s gotten better at is blocking downfield.”

Clarkston (1-2) – which won the Division 1 state championship in 2017 and lost to Chippewa Valley in last year’s title game – plays at No. 9 West Bloomfield (2-1) in an OAA Red battle Friday.

Walled Lake Western’s Yaseen and King’s Williams have had some help from other receivers to make their jobs easier.

Western 6-5 senior Sam Ahern has 14 receptions for 195 yards and four TDs while also getting things done from his safety spot (26 tackles, four pass breakups, two interceptions).

“All he’s doing is averaging two touchdowns a game, about six to eight tackles and about five receptions,” said Western coach Alex Grignon of Ahern. “He had another scoop and score touchdown the other day and a touchdown catch. I’m trying to contact some colleges, saying I have a 6-5 kid who can run and is leading our team in touchdowns with two D1 commits (Yaseen, Northern Illinois-bound C.J. Brown) on the roster.”

No. 16 Western (3-0) – which showcases Yaseen (18 receptions, 546 yards, five TDs) – will play host to No. 4 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (3-0) Friday.

King coach Tyrone Spencer speaks highly of 5-8, 150-pound sophomore Lynn Wyche-El as King heads into a PSL showdown hosting Cass Tech Friday at 5.

Wyche-El had five receptions for 45 yards in the season-opening 24-22 loss to Detroit Catholic Central, added four more catches for 41 yards in a loss to Muskegon, then grabbed two TD passes in King’s 48-0 win over Detroit Osborn last Friday.

“He’s young, but he’s doing some stuff we need him to do,” said Spencer of Wyche El. “He’s very crafty at the slot receiver.”