The top local underclassman defensive players have some strong bloodlines when it comes to football, with several of the youngsters sons of former stand out players. The kids have obviously inherited the athleticism and, hopefully, some of the football meanness from their dads.
Ruel Steele, Bedford North Lawrence
The sophomore son of former Bedford North Lawrence and DePauw University star defensive end Sean Steele, Ruel has nearly caught the old man after growing to 6-2 and 190 pounds. He lettered as a freshman, showing a strong leg as an occasional kickoff and extra-point kicker while also excelling on special teams.
Steele, who further displayed his speed and athleticism as a 400-meter dash guy in track last year, will move to linebacker this season.
Ian Rayhill, Mitchell
Rayhill has excellent size and physicality for a freshman linebacker at 6-1, 180, and head coach Kevin Kling believes he's rapidly latching on to what it takes to play at the high school level.
Rayhill has been hammering away in the weight room, while showing adjustments more befitting a player a year or two older than his rookie status would suggest.
Bryson Zeeks, Mitchell
Zeeks has come in as a freshman and wowed Kling and the coaching staff with his athletic ability and maturity for a youngster. Kling feels he could contribute at the varsity level on both sides of the ball with the physicality and strength he has gained with superior work ethic in weight room.
Moreover, Kling has been equally impressed with his rapid growth in terms of his understanding and knowledge of the game. The rookie is in the running for a starting defensive back position with the varsity.
Gibson Crane, Bedford North Lawrence
Crane, the son of former BNL linebacker Jeremy Crane, is an extremely athletic defensive end (and running back) with great speed a high-octane motor at 6-0 and 185 pounds.
He has put that energy to use with the weights and has added significant improvements in power and muscle during the offseason. Head coach Derrick Barker believes his desire, hustle and strength will help him contribute to the program quickly.
Brady Byers, Bedford North Lawrence
Byers is extremely stout at 6-1, 225, but also very nimble and athletic due to a strong basketball background as well as football. Like Crane, he's a defensive end who has long, strong arms that allow him to separate from blockers and get to the ball.
Byers, son of former BNL athlete Steve Byers, plays tackle on offense, but according to Barker he moves more like a tight end and linebacker, making him a force against slower offensive linemen.
Nick Graham, Mitchell
Mitchell has the makings of a monster defensive tackle in Graham, a 6-2, 260-pound freshman who is beginning to gather the gear that's necessary to play at the next level.
According to Kling, Graham is starting to grind and figure things out, and is also realizing the virtue of the weight room for that big, long frame, and the coach is counting his lucky stars that Graham has found his way to the roster.
Luke Morris, Bedford North Lawrence
Morris is one of those young men who is living proof that the size of the heart matters every bit as much or more than the size of the body. He's a 5-8, 145-pound freshman cornerback who caught Barker's eye with his competitive desire and willingness to jump into the practice fray against the older, bigger players.
Morris may not have the muscle yet to play full-time varsity, but he's working hard in the weight room and should contribute on special teams before finding his footing at the next level.
Contact Times-Mail Sports Writer Jeff Bartlett at email@example.com or on Twitter @jeffbtmnews.
This article originally appeared on The Times-Mail: Meet the top local underclass defensive football players