(Editor's Note: This is the first in a two-part series with interviews with many of the top sophomore quarterbacks in the state. Part Two will post Tuesday)
It isn't often that a team loses its starting quarterback in the state semifinals and bounces back to win the state title handily, but that is exactly what Grand Rapids South Christian did last year.
After standout quarterback Jon Wassink went out, the Sailors rolled to the Division 4 state title, beating Detroit Country Day 40-7.
"We went on and won state," Wassink said. "But I broke my collarbone in the semifinals and didn't play in the state title game, but we still beat Country Day."
In his first year as a starter on varsity, Wassink racked up more than 2,000 yards passing and 24 passing touchdowns, as well as nine rushing scores.
"It was really good and a lot of fun," Wassink said. "You could tell the competition is a lot better and we played some good teams like Grand Rapids Christian (lost 38-28). It was a lot of good experience."
The experience of a year on varsity has led to Wassink diving headfirst in the recruiting world, too.
"Northwestern came by and dropped off some stuff," the 6-foot-2, 190-pound quarterback said. "Michigan State had a couple of coaches come by. Western Michigan and Michigan both dropped off brochures, and I've gotten mail from Cincinnati."
Coach Mark Staten has been visiting South Christian to check in on Wassink, who says he likes what MSU has as a program.
"I think it's looking good," he said. "I think that when I was younger it wasn't very good, but I think it is rising. Last year was down, but they just a couple really good years."
Wassink is planning to camp at Michigan State, Michigan and Northwestern this summer. He also went to the Elite 11 camp in Chicago in May and a Rivals invite-only camp the following day.
Wassink, who also plays varsity basketball at South Christian, spent time this offseason working on his game.
"I've been throwing a couple times a week," he said, "and working on footwork and timing with a couple of receivers. I've also been lifting and working on getting stronger."
-- A few years ago, Tyree Jackson was winning statewide punt, pass and kick competitions at Ford Field.
Fast forward and Jackson has been starting at quarterback for two years at Mona Shores and is being recruited by Division 1 schools.
"It has been great and I have great coaches and players to push and motivate me," Jackson said. "The first year was a bit rough, but the second year we got better and this year, we are going to make a run."
As Jackson and his teammates prepare to improve on a 4-5 mark last season, he has seen plenty of schools come to the Muskegon area during the spring.
"The big schools in Michigan and a lot of MAC schools came by," he said. "I talked to Coach (Dan) Ferrigno from Michigan and Coach (Mike) Tressel from Michigan State."
Jackson, who said his goal is to play in the Big Ten, has visited Michigan State twice -- last year for games against Northwestern and Ohio State.
"I really like the atmosphere at Michigan State," Jackson said. "The fans are crazy and I like the offense they run and what I've seen so far."
Jackson is looking to camp at MSU, Michigan, Central Michigan, Purdue, Toledo and Louisville this summer.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound rising junior threw for 1,806 yards and 18 touchdowns, while running for three scores. He said MSU coaches have told him they like how he throws the ball, but they want to see him work in camp on his drops and in a pro-style offense.
Jackson also spent time working this spring at various camps, including Adidas MaxEx, Rivals Camp in Chicago and the Elite 11 in Columbus, at which he said the coaches praised his arm strength.
-- East Grand Rapids is a perennial football powerhouse, but last year the Pioneers found themselves having a quarterback battle.
Sophomore Mikey Roth ultimately lost the even three-way battle in the fall, but it didn't take long for him to wind up back up on varsity.
"I was brought up and we won the first game and I threw two touchdowns in the first half," Roth said. "The next game I was knocked out with a concussion, so I missed a game but then came back and threw three touchdowns against Lowell."
All in all, Roth made four starts and threw seven touchdowns and just one interception. Also a player on the Pioneers varsity lacrosse team, Roth still found time to throw and lift every morning through the spring -- and be named QB MVP at the Adidas Invite.
Colleges made sure to visit East Grand Rapids, too.
"I was visited by Central Michigan, and I have been up there twice," Roth said. "I have visited Michigan State as well. A lot of Ivy League schools came through, too: Penn, Dartmouth, Yale and Cornell."
His visit to Michigan State came with his fellow sophomore Carter Masek, and provided the pair good insight into Big Ten football.
"I loved it," Roth said. "It was such a great atmosphere, and I talked to Coach (Mark) Dantonio, Coach (Brad) Salem and Coach (Mark) Staten. I sat in on quarterback meetings and team meetings. It was great to see how things work in college and it is a big step up."
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound quarterback also has drawn interest from Northwestern, Penn State, Pitt, Indiana, Wisconsin, Virginia, Cincinnati and a host of MAC schools.
Roth plans to camp at Michigan State, Northwestern, Cincinnati and a few MAC camps, as well as at Sound Mound Sound Body in Southfield.