BOYNE CITY — Jakob Steinhoff didn’t see this coming two years ago.
The Boyne City wide receiver committed to play at Alma College in a sport where he started for just one season.
“Good kid,” Boyne City football coach Dave Suttle said. “Four years ago, you couldn’t have found a person in Boyne City that would have thought he would even have a shot to do this.”
Steinhoff said Chuck Vondra helped convince him to step up his athletics game.
“I never took sports that seriously until my junior year,” Steinhoff said. “Then I hit the weight room every day.”
He grew from six feet tall as a freshman to 6-foot-4 by his senior year. That served him well on the basketball court and the football field.
“We knew of him early on, and then we were getting on the road in December,” Alma College co-defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator Scotty Cole said. “Jakob and Pete (Calcaterra) were the kids we were looking at.”
Cole did much of Steinhoff’s recruiting. Cole attended the Ramblers’ basketball game against Charlevoix with Alma basketball coaches, who were there to see several Rambler and Rayders players in person.
Cole came away even more impressed with Steinhoff’s athletic ability, seeing his height and jumping ability on display — traits he could see being used at Alma’s Bahlke Field as a big-play receiver.
“We’re excited,” Cole said. “You can’t coach 6-4 and the ability to go up and get the football. He’s a diamond in the rough.”
The Scots had 22 wide receivers on their roster last year. They rostered a couple 6-3 targets, but Steinhoff would have been the tallest.
Steinhoff came on as a senior after dedicating himself to the team’s offseason workout program.
He hauled in 22 catches for 538 yards, averaging 24.5 yards a catch, emerging as the Ramblers’ deep threat in a run-heavy offense. He turned passes into gains of 20 or more yards seven times last season, and had another four go for 40 or more. He added 22 tackles, seven tackles for loss and two sacks as a defensive end.
He was also recruited by Olivet and considered going to Michigan State for school only.
“It’s always been my dream school,” said Steinhoff, who is considering majoring in physical therapy or business. “Then the opportunity to play football was a dream.”
Steinhoff said he also hopes to try out for the Scots’ basketball team as a walk-on.
Steinhoff went to East Jordan through the third grade, so he knows Red Devils star Jackson Raymond, who is also going to dual sport at Alma by playing basketball and football.
The Scots have a large contingent of northern Michigan players in this year’s recruiting class, including Petoskey kicker Kaleb Kindsvatter, Traverse City West lineman Oshyn Carnes, Raymond, Onekama's Dalron Gray and the Grayling tandem of Eli Jackson and Nick Bluemlein. They join an Alma roster dotted last season by other local stars, including TC West’s Odin Soffredine, Thor Soffredine and Samuel Jacob, Mancelona receiver Sam Squires, Glen Lake quarterback Joey Fosmore, Manton linebacker Trever Salani, Glen Lake defensive lineman Ryan Nadlicki and Traverse City St. Francis linebacker Mitch Westman.
Thor Soffredine was the Scots’ second-leading tackler as a sophomore.
“I think it definitely is going to be a big step,” Steinhoff said. “It may take a couple years, but I’ll be big.”