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It’s “official” (wink, wink), Chargers football to sign one of state’s best running backs


Chris Potter

A Walters ‘n Words exclusive blog entry

The whispers of many Charger faithful are apparently ringing true, or at least as true as they can officially be until National Signing Day on Feb. 4.

According to Jane Bos of the Grand Rapids Press the Associated Press Division 3-4 Football Player of the Year, running back Joe Glendening has made up his mind and he plans to commit to Hillsdale in just a few weeks.

Glendening set an East Grand Rapids school record for most rushing yards in a season with 2,598. He eclipsed the previous mark of 2,507 set in 2003 by Kevin Grady Jr., who now is at Michigan.

During the playoff run, Glendening also rushed for a school-record 398 yards against Mount Pleasant, and he tied Grady’s state record for most career touchdowns at the state finals with seven.

“I think Joe is the best player in the state of Michigan,” EGR coach Peter Stuursma said after the championship game where Glendening rushed for 175 yards and three touchdowns, according to Bos’ story.

On ESPN.com he is ranked the 203rd best athlete available in 2009 recruiting class and it says he has been considering Ball State and Central Michigan, the top two MAC schools from this past season. He is given a scouts rating of 65, but that is in comparison to D-I studs, not GLIAC or D-II standards.

All I know is that Chargers; head coach Keith Otterbein and his staff are in the process of stirring up something special. They have gone from middle-of-the-pack to on the cusp of playoff contention in a few short seasons, so what’s next?  Instead of getting 3-4 impact players per class like when he first got here he’s now getting 7-10 guys a year who can have a similar impact.

The fact is Vinnie Panizzi is the Chargers’ starting halfback this coming season, I don’t have to tell anyone that, but Glendeling provides an assurance that when Panzzi leaves there will be someone in the backfield to keep defenses off balance.

So far Grand Rapids has provided Hillsdale with the likes of Jared Veldheer, Tom Korte and Troy Weatherhead among others and if Grand Valley can get D-I talent, why not Hillsdale, a school that continues to thrust itself into the regional and national spotlight?

I am no kind of scouting expert and of course great high school backs look unstoppable on their YouTube videos, but it’s okay to get excited about the prospects of Glendeling commiting on Feb. 4 because it is proof of progress and one less great Michigander who takes the unfortunate route of being a Laker, or Wolverine (sigh) for that matter.

Also of note is something I found from a Detroit Free Press article that ran in December. He has a 3.76 weighted grade-point average and has volunteered as a tutor and literacy outreach mentor for younger students in his school system as well as for the East Grand Rapids High Youth Development wellness program. Sounds like a Charger, looks like a Charger on film.Could be the perfect fit.

If you want a tad bit more on this high school sensation, here you go. This is what scouts have to say on ESPN.com. Enjoy.

Glendening is not going to blow you away with great size and speed measurables on paper, but he is a solid football player who may get recruited on either side of the ball in college. Has just marginal size, but is well-defined, wiry and plays bigger on film. On offense, he shows good urgency out of his stance and squares up quickly hitting the downhill seam. Most productive as a one-cut and go north-south runner. Runs with a low center of gravity as an in-line back. Lowers his shoulders through traffic and can pick up the tough yards. Keeps his legs churning on contact and can push the pile. Shows a bit of lateral shiftiness making the first defender miss through the hole and doesn’t gear down much when cutting in space. However, top-end speed is good in second level but not great for a lighter 175-pound runner. Built more like a scatback but he lacks the fluidity, movement skills and foot-speed that project high in that type of role in college. More of a downhill runner but we have concerns about current yards after contact transferring to the next level. Struggles at times breaking initial contact and with balance. Lacks good pick and dart zone running skills. A bit straight-lined and has difficulty decisively hitting the small cutback creases. Skill set and physical tools may be better suited on defense in a Bandit/Rover type role. Transitions quickly out of his pedal breaking underneath and makes solid contact as tackler. His ability to mirror and match up with quicker D-I skill players on the perimeter is a concern. Struggles getting off blocks when running the alley and taking proper pursuit angles. Lacks the speed and hips at this time to project high as a corner and the size and physicality to play down in the box as a safety. That said, Glendening is well-rounded, instinctive football player who could find a role on either side of the ball at the mid-major level and add quality depth on special teams.

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About rjwalters

I am what you think I am — a journalist. Actually when I was hired at my current job, which by the way is Sports Editor of the Hillsdale Daily News in Hillsdale, Mich., I applied for a position titled "Wordsmith", so at my best I'll call myself a writer attempting to be a wordsmith extraordinaire.

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