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  • George Davis

Special Edition- Cranbrook Football hosts Signing Day event; Cranes rising to the next level.

The Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Cranes Football team hosted a Signing Day Event for its players that have stated their intent to play college football as a part of their future academic careers. This event was held in the library on the Cranbrook Campus.

Joined by families, students, coaches, Cranbrook staff and faculty, these players were the center of a unique moment. Cranbrook Football paused to reflect on its glowing achievements- these two young men have been at the center of that radiance.

RB Jalen Allen and WR/LB/LS Daniel Russell, Jr. will join the ranks of collegiate student athletes playing football when they graduate from Cranbrook.

Catalyst and Captain

Jalen Allen will play football at Columbia University in New York, NY.

A four-year varsity player for Cranbrook Football, Jalen Allen was a key figure in the resurgence of Cranbrook football. In his sophomore year, Jalen lead the team in rushing with 911 yards on the season, averaging 6.5 yards per carry and scoring 13 touchdowns. In Cranbrook’s first ever Friday Night Lights home game, Jalen rushed for 260 yards and 2 touchdowns against Allen Academy, propelling Cranbrook into its first playoff appearance in 9 years. His performance in this game solidified another honor for Jalen-being recognized at Ford Field by the Catholic High School League as an All-League Player for 2014.

As a senior, coming of a torn ACL injury that kept him sidelined during his junior year, Jalen rushed for 439 yards averaging 6.9 yards a carry and scoring 7 rushing TD’s. Against University Prep Academy, Jalen rushed for 128 yards on 14 carries, scoring 4 TD’s. In Cranbrook’s Prep Bowl Championship game against WOLL, Jalen ran for 118 yards on 14 carries and scored 2 TD’s.

Jalen also served 2 years as team captain, providing leadership for a maturing football program. He was named an All-Academic Player for the Catholic League in 2016.

“Jalen has been a vital player for our program, giving us a strong running option” said Cranes Head Coach Joe D’Angelo. “It was Jalen’s grit and determination that got us into the playoffs for the first time in 2014. He was a catalyst for our growth.”

The X-Factor

Daniel Russell Jr. will play football at Kenyon College in Gambier, OH.

A four year varsity player as well, Daniel was a utility player for the Cranes, playing multiple positions in his career.

As an offensive player playing WR, Daniel amassed 457 yards receiving on 45 receptions, averaging 10.4 yards a catch. Daniel was a “possession” receiver, the go-to guy that would keep a drive going for the team. He also contributed greatly as a blocking receiver, setting up other players to gain yardage down field.

As a defensive player playing LB, Dan had 56 solo tackles, 17 assists, and 4 interceptions. He also had 6 sacks in his career as a blitzing LB. Two of his interceptions were back-to-back (after a penalty)-a game winning play to defeat Riverview Gabriel Richard in 2015.

On special teams, he made major contributions. As a kickoff/punt returner, Daniel gained 134 yards, averaging 10.2 yards a return.

As a long snapper, Daniel was a part of punting, field goals, and PAT’s. The Cranes kicked 12 of 17 field goals from Dan’s long snaps, and 64 out of 74 PAT’s. Notably in 2016, his kicker junior Pierson Cooke, was named All-Division D4 first team kicker by the Detroit Free Press.

Daniel was a player that made everyone better around him.

“Dan made valuable contributions in his time here,” said Coach D’Angelo. “He was a versatile player that showed up in big games. He was an x-factor that gave us a chance to win whenever we took the field.”

Perhaps an underscoring of his time as a Crane- Dan caught a flea-flicker touchdown in the 2016 MHSAA playoff game against Country Day- his last pass as a Cranbrook football player. Although it didn’t affect the outcome of the game, it demonstrates he filled that “special” place on the team.

Crane Futures

While these were the only two football commits on signing day, there are others who may find themselves playing on Saturdays in the fall. A good crop of athletes often has late signers.

“There are other kids still looking for the right fit with their academics and athletics, so we anticipate more in the near future.,” said Coach D’Angelo.

Next year looks promising as well, with several juniors receiving accolades. Colleges are beginning to have interest for the rising classes and beyond.

“It’s nice to see all of the kids’ hard work paying off, especially given the not-to-distant past of our program. We’ve seen tremendous growth and major strides in the past 4 years, “said D’Angelo.

The future appears bright for Cranbrook Football.

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