The top 100 high school athletes of all time: Drew Henson, Paul Krause top list of athletes Nos. 11-20Multi-Sport  |
The following is a list of the top 60 athletes in the history of Michigan high school athletics. This list is a compilation of facts and opinions. In analyzing data and comparing athletes of the 1920s to those of the 1990s and beyond we found difficulty in imagining what the athletes of the past would compare and compete against those of the present-day athlete. The adage, ‘bigger, stronger, faster’, must be applied but one cannot overlook the records and achievements of those in the 1940s, ‘30s and earlier.
It is the intent of State Champs to expose the achievements of athletes whom some of our readers are not familiar with and to create conversation on just who were some of the best.
We have a few guidelines for athletes to be considered for this list. One is they had to attend high school, for at least one school year, in Michigan. They also had to compete in sports at the high school the y attended. Playing for club teams and travel teams outside of the school is not sufficient.
Athletes like boxers Joe Louis and Chris Byrd, for example, did not, as far as our research could ascertain, compete in athletics, at least in boxing, their main sport, in high school.
Other athletes, like hockey standouts like Mike Modano and Tim Thomas, they did not compete in the sport they excelled at in high school.
State Champs would like to thank Wikipedia, MHSAA historian Ron Pesch, Detroit area historian Bill Hoover and others like Michigan sports writers Denny Grall and Bill Kahn for their expertise and who provided so much of the information and opinions about these athletes that made this project possible.
In our efforts to obtain information on many of these athletes accuracy was sometimes a cloudy area.
For instance, much of the information obtained on some of the Negro League players was sketchy.
The following is a list of the athletes ranked Nos. 11 through 20. Next week we will release the top 10 athletes of all time. We’re almost done. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our list as much as we have providing it for you.
- Drew Henson, Brighton, Michigan, Cowboys (NFL), Yankees (MLB): Set career records in high school with 267 hits, 250 runs, 68 doubles, 10 grand slams, 290 RBIs and 129 walks in his career. He also notched 40 wins with 528 career strikeouts as a pitcher, both ranking among the state's all-time top-3 when he graduated in 1998. He hit 11 home runs as a freshman, 14 as a sophomore, 23 as a junior and 22 as a senior. His 70 career homers is 23 ahead of Zach Fish (Kalamazoo Central, Richland Gull Lake) who is second. He was selected in the third round by the Yankees and began the next chapter of the Drew Henson story, playing both minor league baseball and Big Ten football. He would famously split time at quarterback with Tom Brady at Michigan in 1998 and 1999, eventually leading the Wolverines to the league title, a Citrus Bowl victory and the program's last win over Ohio State in Columbus in 2000. Henson finished his professional career with one hit in Major League game and one TD pass in the National Football League.
- Paul Krause, Flint (now Burton) Bendle, Iowa, Redskins, Vikings (NFL): Krause earned all-state honors in basketball, football, baseball and track. He scored 54 points in a basketball game. In track he competed in the broad jump, the high jump, hurdle events and the pole vault. He was a two-way starter (receiver and defensive back) at Iowa. As a senior in 1963, he tied the Iowa record with six touchdown receptions and was selected to the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game. Krause also played baseball at Iowa. As a sophomore, he earned All-America honors in baseball and was drafted into the major leagues, but he turned down a reported $50,000 signing bonus and remained at Iowa. Washington selected Krause in the second round (18th overall) of the 1964 NFL Draft and that season Krause was named Rookie of the Year, a season that saw Krause lead the league in interceptions (12). He played 16 NFL seasons. He finished with an NFL record 81 interceptions, a record that still stands, and played in all four of the Vikings’ Super Bowl appearances. Krause was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
- Dathan Ritzenhein, Rockford, Colorado, Olympics: At Rockford he was the two-time Foot Locker National Cross Country Champion. He set numerous state and national high school records during this time, notably in the 1,600-meter (4:05.9) 3,200 (8:41.10) and in the 5,000 (13:44.70). In track he won the 3,200 run three times and the 1,600 once (2000). He still holds the 3,200 record (8:43.32) set in 2001. He’s a three-time Olympian, twice at 10,000 meters (2004 and 2012) and once in the marathon (2008, when he finished ninth and first for Team USA). He is a former U.S. record holder at 5,000 meters. As a freshman at Colorado he finished in fourth place at the NCAA Cross Country Championships with a time of 29:11. His finish, along with the second-place finish of teammate Jorge Torres, helped lead Colorado to the team title. The following spring Ritzenhein competed in the 5,000-meter race at the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, finishing again in fourth place with a 14:01.02. His personal best that season was 13:27.77. In the fall of 2003, Ritzenhein won the Big 12 title, and then outkicked Ryan Hall of Stanford to win the NCAA Cross Country Championships individual title. His winning time was 29:14.1. In the spring of 2004 Ritzenhein ran a 27:38.50 in his debut at 10,000 meters at Stanford to set the American-born collegiate record in the event. The next day he won the 5000 at the Big 12 Outdoor Conference Championships.
- Richie Jordan, Fennville, Michigan State (basketball, baseball): Jordan earned 16 varsity letters and was all-state in basketball all four years. He also made all-state in football and baseball. He was named All-America his senior year for basketball. Jordan was hailed across the state for his ability to dunk a basketball, with either hand, despite his size (5-7½). He scored 888 points in 20 games for a state record 44.4 point per game average and was named All-America. He scored 60 points, which remains an MHSAA record for a tournament game, in a Class C regional championship loss to Bridgman. An outstanding all-around athlete, Jordan rushed for 5,132 yards in his four seasons and was recruited by 55 colleges. As a junior at Fennville he averaged 35.6 points. Jordan’s career batting average in high school was .550. He played two seasons with the MSU basketball program before concentrating on baseball. He signed a contract with the Pirates but a shoulder injury ended his career.
- T.J. Duckett, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix, Michigan State, Falcons, Redskins, Lions, Seahawks (NFL): Duckett was named the No. 1 Blue Chip prospect by The Detroit News in 1999. In addition Duckett was a consensus All-America and was named Parade Magazine’s National Player of the year. Duckett was a versatile player having played quarterback, running back and linebacker. As a junior, he had 140 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions and accounted for 2,080 total yards and 20 TDs. He was named Defensive Player of the Year by SuperPrep and Prep Star. Rivals named Duckett is High School Junior of the Year. As a senior Duckett rushed for 1,623 yards and had 21 TDs. He threw for 920 yards and nine TDs. On defense, he recorded 102 tackles, nine sacks, and forced four fumbles. Also a track star, Duckett was the three-time Class A champion in the shot put (1997-99). His best put was 64 feet, ½ inch and that was a state record from 1999-2016. Duckett held the previous record (63-6). He was also a member of the winning 400-meter relay team in ‘97. Although Duckett was the top linebacker in the country, he went to MSU to carry the football. As a junior, he earned second-team all-conference honors with 1,353 yards rushing on 240 carries and seven TDs. He ran for more than 100 yards six times, including a career-high of 248 yards in a game against Iowa. Duckett started every game as a senior and led the team with 263 carries for 1,420 yards and 12 TDs. His 263 attempts rank eighth on the school's season-record list and his 1,420 yards rank fourth. For his career Duckett had 621 carries (7th all-time for MSU) for 3,379 yards (5th) and 29 TDs (6th). He had 22 receptions for 151 yards and one TD. The Falcons selected Duckett 18th overall in the 2002 NFL Draft. He played seven NFL seasons and had 2,814 yards and 44 TDs.
- Marshall Dill, Detroit Northern, Michigan State: Dill was one of the most successful interscholastic track and field athletes in the country. In ‘71 at Northern Dill was named National High School Track Athlete of the Year. He was ranked 4th in the world in the 200-meter dash (20.39 seconds), He was 5th in the world in the world in the 100 (10.10) and held the U.S. high school record in the 100 and 200 meters. Dill won three MHSAA titles (100 yards, 220 yards, and 880 relay). Dill's winning time in the 220-yard dash at the 1971 MHSAA Championships (converted to 20.5 seconds for 200 meters) is a mark that still stands. He was Track and Field News "High School Athlete of the Year" that year. He was a three-time All-America at MSU. He won 11 indoor/outdoor titles in college. Dill led MSU to the Big Ten Team Championships in both indoor and outdoor track (1972). That same year, MSU finished second (by one point) to the University of Southern California (USC) at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Dill's self-proclaimed career pinnacle was winning the 1973 NCAA outdoor title at 200 meters. Others would argue Dill's greatest accomplishment to be the World Record he set while running the indoor 300-yard dash in 1973.
- Antonio Gates, Detroit Central, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, College of the Sequoias, Kent State, Chargers (NFL): Gates was all-state in two sports, basketball and football, for two season at Central. He was a Dream Team selection in football and was named first team Class A All-State in basketball his senior season. He was second in the voting for Mr. Basketball to Dane Fife of Clarkston. That season (1998) he and Dante Darling led Central to the school’s only state (Class A) basketball title. He signed to play football at Michigan State but never played a down. He transferred to Eastern Michigan to play basketball and played a part of his freshman year before again transferring, this time to the College of the Sequoias. Gates did not compete in athletics there instead chose to concentrate on his academics. Former MSU assistant basketball coach Stan Heath recruited Gates to play for him at Kent State. Gates played two seasons as power forward for Heath and his junior season he averaged 16.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. His senior season he received Honorable Mention All-American Honors (Associated Press) after averaging 20.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. His senior season his team won its first regular season Mid-American Conference championship in school history after finishing the regular season with a 24-5 overall record with a 17-1 record in the MAC. Gates helped the Golden Flashes win their second consecutive MAC tournament and earn a spot in the 2002 NCAA Basketball Tournament. In the tournament Gates gave crucial performances that helped Kent State reach the Elite Eight Elite as a 10 seed by upsetting No. 7 seed Oklahoma State (69-61), No. 2 seed Alabama (71-58) and No. 3 seed Pittsburgh (78-73). He finished with a record of 54-16 in two years of playing. His jersey number (44) was retired on Feb 27, 2010, making him just the fourth Golden Flash to receive the honor. San Diego signed Gates as an undrafted free agent in 2003. In 2014 Gates passed Lance Alworth to become the Chargers' career leader in receiving yards. In the season's final game against Kansas City Gates became the fourth tight end in NFL history to surpass 10,000 yards in career receiving yards. He has been selected to the Pro Bowl eight times and is a five-time All-Pro. His 111 career TD receptions ties him with Tony Gonzalez for the most for a tight end.
- Bill Yearby, Detroit Eastern, Michigan, Jets (NFL): Born in Alabama, Yearby was all-state in three sports at Eastern. He was the Class A champion in the shot put (54 feet, 9½ inches) in 1962. He later became the Big Ten champion in the shot put. He was part of the great Eastern basketball teams that featured 7-footer Reggie Harding and John Rowser (No. 63 on our list). Those teams won four consecutive PSL titles (1959-62). Yearby was named first team all-City by the Detroit Free Press in 1962. In ’64 Yearby was a member of the U-M basketball team that reached the NCAA Final Four. He became one of the best defensive tackles in the country his junior and senior years, earning All-American honors in both 1964 and 1965 and was named the Wolverines’ Most Valuable Player in 1965. He helped the 1964 Wolverines win the Big Ten Conference and the Rose Bowl. The Jets made Yearby their No. 1 pick in the 1966 AFL Draft. Yearby, due to injuries, played just one season with the Jets. Boxing trainer/promoter and Yearby’s fellow student at Eastern Emmanuel Steward said (in an article in the Michigan Chronicle) Yearby “was one of the greatest athletes ever”.
- LaMarr Woodley, Saginaw, Michigan, Steelers, Raiders, Cardinals (NFL): Woodley was(is) a freak of an athlete. A starter and an all-state player on his high school team’s basketball at center even though he was just 6-2. As a junior he helped lead the Trojans to the Class A semifinals as he had 12 points and 12 rebounds in an 85-77 loss to Pontiac Northern. His agility and speed on the football field was remarkable. Rivals.com listed Woodley as the No. 3 linebacker in the 2003 class and he was the state’s No. 1 Blue Chip prospect according to The Detroit News. At U-M Woodley played linebacker and defensive end. As a senior (2006) Woodley had 12 sacks, was a unanimous first-team All-America and won the Lombardi Award as the best lineman, offensively or defensively. He also won the Ted Hendricks Award. The Steelers selection Woodley in the second round (46th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2009 and was a member of the XLIII Super Bowl championship team.
- John "Bo" Molenda, Detroit Northeastern, Michigan, Yankees, Packers, Giants (NFL): Born in Illinois, Molenda and his family moved to Detroit just after his sophomore year of high school. A football, basketball, track and baseball star, Molenda was an All-State selection in football in both his junior and senior seasons, he was also named to All-City teams in both years in basketball. While Northeastern was eliminated in the early rounds of the state basketball tournament, the team did accept an invitation to play in the Chicago National Interscholastic Tournament, and Northeastern finished fourth. Molenda earned second team All-Tournament honors at Chicago. Molenda did receive All-America honors as well. When Molenda and Bennis Oosterbaan enrolled at U-M in 1924, a newspaper report called them "two of the greatest all round athletes ever turned out in Michigan prep school ranks.” He played fullback at U-M on teams that won the conference title in 1925 and ’26. He also played defense and had five interceptions against an Illinois team led by Red Grange. The 1925 team outscored their opponents 225-3 and Molenda was named second team All-America. Molenda and Oosterbaan also played on the basketball team at U-M. Molenda was known for his defense in basketball but he also was the team’s leading scorer in 1926. He played two seasons with Yankees before going to the Packers in 1928. He started at fullback on the Packers’ championship teams of ’29, ’30 and ’31. Before this he signed a professional basketball contract to play in the Industrial Mutual Association in Flint in 1927. In ’28 he signed a professional baseball contract with Waco of the Texas League. Molenda had been considered one of the top pitchers in the Detroit area. On the ’31 Packers team Molenda rarely came off the field as he played offense, defense and was the kicker. After serving in the Navy during WWII Molenda became a football coach, professionally and in college.
Here are Nos. 21-100
- Peter Vanderkaay, Rochester Adams, Michigan, Olympics (swimming)
- Frank Tanana, Detroit Catholic Central, Angels, Red Sox, Rangers, Tigers, Mets, Yankees (MLB)
- Grant Fisher, Grand Blanc, Stanford (track, cross country)
- Derek Jeter, Kalamazoo Central, Yankees (MLB)
- Glenn Doughty, Detroit Pershing, Michigan, Colts (NFL)
- Kirk Gibson, Waterford Kettering, Michigan State, Tigers, Dodgers, Royals, Pirates (MLB)
- Jerome Bettis, Detroit Mackenzie, Notre Dame, Rams, Steelers (NFL)
- Vince Banonis, Detroit Catholic Central, University of Detroit, Chicago Cardinals, Steelers, Lions (NFL)
- Brandon Graham, Detroit Crockett Tech, Michigan, Eagles (NFL).
- Pete Gent, Bangor, Michigan State, Cowboys (NFL)
- Adam Coon, Fowlerville, Michigan (wrestling)
- Spencer Haywood, Detroit Pershing, Trinidad State, University of Detroit, Rockets, Super Sonics, Knicks, Jazz, Lakers, Bullets (ABA, NBA), Olympics
- Carl Banks, Flint Beecher, Michigan State, Giants, Redskins, Browns (NFL)
- Chuck Holloway, Detroit Northern, Lawrence Tech, Junior College, UCLA (track, football, rugby), Calgary (CFL)
- Earl Morrall, Muskegon, Michigan State, 49ers, Steelers, Lions, Giants, Colts, Dolphins (NFL)
- Shane Battier, Detroit Country Day, Duke, Grizzlies, Rockets, Heat (NBA)
- Tim Shaw, Livonia Clarenceville, Penn State, Panthers, Jaguars, Bears, Titans (NFL)
- Chris Webber, Detroit Country Day, Michigan, Warriors, Bullets/Wizards, Kings, 76ers, Pistons (NBA)
- Dick Rifenburg, Saginaw Arthur Hill, Michigan, Lions (NFL)
- Glen Rice, Flint Northwestern, Michigan, Heat, Lakers, Hornets, Knicks, Rockets, Clippers (NBA)
- Alexi Lalas, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, Rutgers, Revolution, Galaxy (MLS)
- Adam Coon, Fowlerville, Michigan (wrestling)
- Greg Jennings, Kalamazoo Central, Western Michigan, Packers, Vikings, Dolphins (NFL)
- Charles Rogers, Saginaw, Michigan State, Lions (NFL)
- Jon Runyan, Flint Carman-Ainsworth, Michigan, Oilers/Titans, Eagles, Chargers (NFL)
- Don Lund, Detroit Southeastern, Michigan, Dodgers, Browns, Tigers (MLB)
- Casey Rogowski, Detroit Catholic Central (baseball, football, wrestling)
- Willis Ward, Detroit Northwestern, Michigan (track, football)
- Todd Lyght, Flint Powers, Notre Dame, Rams, Lions (NFL)
- John Smoltz, Lansing Catholic Central/Lansing Waverly, Braves, Red Sox, Cardinals (MLB)
- Kevin Grady, Jr., East Grand Rapids, Michigan (football)
- Courtney Hawkins, Flint Beecher, Michigan State, Buccaneers, Steelers (NFL)
- Rodney Culver, Detroit DePorres, Notre Dame, Colts, Chargers (NFL)
- Herb Washington, Flint Northern, Flint Central, Michigan State, Oakland A’s (MLB)
- Ed Budde, Detroit Denby, Michigan State, Chiefs (AFL/NFL)
- Drew Stanton, Farmington Hills Harrison, Michigan State, Lions, Jets, Colts, Cardinals (NFL)
- Charlie Gehringer, Fowlerville, Michigan, Tigers (MLB)
- Jim Abbott, Flint Central, Michigan, Angels, Yankees, White Sox, Brewers (MLB)
- Lynn Chandnois, Flint Central, Michigan State, Steelers (NFL)
- Stuart Schweigert, Saginaw Heritage, Purdue, Raiders, Redskins, Giants, Lions (NFL)
- D.J. LeMahieu, Birmingham Brother Rice, Louisiana State, Cubs, Rockies (MLB)
- Tim Thomas, Davison, Vermont, Bruins, Panthers, Stars (NHL), Olympics
- John Rowser, Detroit Eastern, Michigan, Packers, Steelers, Browns (NFL)
- Joe DeLamielleure, Center Line St. Clement, Michigan State, Bills, Browns (NFL)
- Sergio Perkovic, Birmingham Brother Rice, Notre Dame (lacrosse)
- Gabe Dean, Lowell, Cornell (wrestling)
- Bill Simpson, Royal Oak Shrine, Michigan State, Rams, Bills (NFL)
- Nick Perry, Detroit Mackenzie, Detroit King, Southern California, Packers (NFL)
- Draymond Green, Saginaw High, Michigan State, Golden State Warriors (NBA), Olympics
- Wayne Schwalbach, Escanaba, Central Michigan (football)
- Prescott Line, Oxford, Southern Methodist, Michigan State (football)
- William Gholston, Detroit Mumford, Detroit Southeastern, Michigan State, Buccaneers (NFL)
- Sammy Gee, Detroit Miller, Negro League Baseball, Globetrotters
- Darnell Dickerson, Detroit King, Pittsburgh (football)
- Jason Richardson, Saginaw Arthur Hill, Michigan State, Warriors, Hornets, Suns, Magic, 76ers (NBA)
- Dan Majerle, Traverse City High, Central Michigan, Suns, Cavaliers, Heat (NBA)
- David Bowens, Orchard Lake St. Mary's, Michigan/Western Illinois, Packers, Bills, Redskins, Dolphins, Jets, Browns (NFL)