High school football: Brooks Bahr picks Michigan, Frank Covey heads to Northwestern, Ken Leonard prepares to retire

Brooks Bahr’s weight and recruiting stock both had a significant jump during the offseason.

Bahr was a disruptive force at defensive end for Loyola last fall as a 6-foot-6, 245-pound junior.

Ramblers coach John Holecek recalls a day in January when Bahr walked into the weight room and a coach asked what he weighed. Bahr guessed 250-255.

“He stepped on the scale: 269,” Holecek said.

Now Bahr is at 280, and he’s heading to the defending Big Ten champions after committing to Michigan last month.

“Putting on 30 pounds of solid muscle, he still looks lean and has giant hands,” Holecek said of the state’s consensus No. 10 player in the class of 2023.

Bahr isn’t so sure his weight gain piqued the interest of college coaches as much as his other attributes: height, wingspan and those big hands.

Still, he said, “Since the end of last season, a goal of mine was to put on good weight, getting stronger and getting faster.”

One of Bahr’s training partners is a pretty familiar one: his older brother Chase, an offensive lineman at Penn.

The weight work is part of the effort Bahr has put in while chasing his college dreams. After getting his name out at showcases, he picked up his first offer from Illinois in September,

His dozen Power Five offers also include Northwestern, Wisconsin, Iowa and Vanderbilt.

The Wolverines’ offer stood out not just on the athletic side.

“I want to study sports marketing and sports management, and Michigan has the No. 1 sports management program in the country,” Bahr said.

Then there’s the atmosphere.

“I was really looking for a college town like Ann Arbor and playing in the Big House with 115,000 fans watching is going to be incredible.”

Covey picks ‘Cats

The biggest question for Prospect’s Frank Covey IV heading into the recruiting process was where he’d play.

The 6-2, 185-pounder is listed as an athlete on the recruiting sites after starring at receiver as a sophomore and quarterback last season. He’s the No. 13 prospect in the state in the 247.com composite rankings.

Covey drew recruiting interest at both positions, getting looks from Illinois and Nebraska as a receiver and from several Mid-American Conference schools at QB.

But, he said, one position felt like a better long-term option: “I knew I was going to play receiver in college.”

A Northwestern assistant checked in with Covey last fall. “He said, ‘You play hard; we’ll keep in touch.”

Covey didn’t think put a lot of weight on it at the time. But then other NU coaches saw his film and liked it. Still, his future position was up in the air.

Until the boss checked in.

“Coach Fitz [Pat Fitzgerald] saw me as a receiver,” Covey said.

That, plus a look at the Wildcats’ facilities — “it just blew me away” — was all he needed to make up his mind.

“I’m more confident in my receiving skills,” said Covey, who committed to Northwestern in February.

Victory lap for Leonard

Ken Leonard, the state’s all-time winningest football coach, is retiring after the 2022 season.

Leonard is 404-83 in 42 seasons, four at Gridley and the past 38 at Sacred Heart-Griffin. He has won five state titles and finished second four times with the Cyclones.

The coach-in-waiting is John Allison, the current offensive coordinator who joined Leonard’s staff in 2003.

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