GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Jalen Mayfield competed at Michigan’s Big Man Big House camp in June. He didn’t need to participate. He had already committed to the Wolverines, so there was no reason to show off for the coaching staff.
Mayfield and fellow 2018 commits Emil Ekiyor and Aidan Hutchison were at the camp and they all impressed in a preview at their future home.
The senior offensive tackle from Grand Rapids Catholic Central is carrying that same attitude into his team’s season opener Friday night at home against Detroit Country Day. It’s a rematch of last year’s Division 4 state championship game, won by GRCC, 10-7.
For Mayfield, there’s no room to be satisfied with what’s been accomplished when there is still so much to be gained.
“It is a big thing with me to never get complacent with where I’m at and never being totally satisfied because I know there’s someone out there working,” Mayfield told Land of 10 on Thursday after finishing practice. “If I lay back, I’m just that much worse. I know Emil had that same thought process. We talked about not doing it, but then we both talked and decided this was a chance to get better and work with the coaches we’re going to be playing for.”
Mayfield is 6-foot-5, 270 pounds and is rated a 4-star prospect by the 247Sports composite. He has accepted an invitation to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and GRCC coach Todd Kolster said Mayfield has the athleticism to play just about any position. Mayfield once had visions of being a tight end, but that’s not where his future lies, according to Kolster. He’s bought in to Kolster’s advice.
Voice of experience
Kolster coached eight years at Grand Valley State, first under current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and then on Chuck Martin’s staff. Martin is now the coach at Miami (Ohio). Kolster is in his fifth season at GRCC.
“[Mayfield’s] intelligence is his best attribute, but his athleticism is right up there, and that’s what’s impressed all these college coaches,” Kolster said. “He’s a big kid, but he’s not even close to what he’s going to be. He’s 270 and the guy looks like he’s 225. Jalen’s gained almost 30 pounds from last winter, and he’s gaining weight in the right way.”
Kolster has coached 17 players who have played in the NFL — 16 of them at Grand Valley State and one at GRCC (running back Bronson Hill, now with the Minnesota Vikings).
“Jalen could play tight end in Division I football, without a doubt,” Kolster said. “I coached a lot of guys just like him, not as good as him in high school but similar body types and saw how they developed. The thing I kept impressing upon him: I know what you want, but this is what I think is going to happen down the road. Trust me. Stick with me.”
Seeing the light
It was after his sophomore season when Mayfield and his father, Brian, who is an assistant at GRCC and played left tackle at Ferris State, started experiencing what Kolster had foreseen.
“They started going to these camps and they realized he could be a pretty special offensive tackle,” Kolster said. “That’s when he bought in, and we noticed how much better he was last year. That’s what really started to get him noticed.”
Mayfield said he plans on signing his National Letter of Intent during the new December period, but he will not be enrolling early. He has played basketball in the past, but does not plan on playing this season. He said he will play baseball.
Mayfield originally committed to Minnesota and new coach P.J. Fleck, but switched when Michigan upped its recruitment. He still hears from other schools — Kolster said Alabama and Ohio State have continued to contact Mayfield — but Mayfield is sticking with his commitment.
His priority now is Detroit Country Day.
“We know they’re coming in to try to beat us at our own stadium, so that’s all our focus has been on as a team,” Mayfield said. “It’s a lot easier to focus on that knowing this team wants to come in and beat you. Playing the same team we just played [for the state title] won’t let us get too confident and look forward too far down the line.”
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