In this brave new world where four (Rivals, Scout, 247, ESPN) recruiting services are vying for your money, ten months out from signing day without a verbal commitment is cause for panic. Everyone else is getting their toys and here you are, sitting alone on your driveway, playing the World Series of Thumb War between your left and right hands (in a minor upset, lefty beat righty 4-2 in a series called by your brother GET OUT OF THE DRIVEWAY SO I CAN DO WHEELIES ON MY BMX BIKE YOU DIP!). It's annoying, but c'mon. There's no way Michigan State was going to reach February 2012 with nary a recruit to its name.
Nevertheless, it was a relief when 6'1", 195 lb. Riley Bullough committed to Michigan State after the Spring game on Saturday, along with offensive linemen Zach Higgins and Benny McGowan (more on them in the coming days). Riley's the younger brother of linebacker Max Bullough, so he also hails from Traverse City. He plays both ways as a quarterback and linebacker in high school but will only play at the latter position in East Lansing. Only two recruiting services have him ranked so far, with Scout bestowing him with three-star status, and 247 giving him the same ranking (although rating him an 87 out of 100 to go with their three stars).
Looking at the tape, it's hard not to notice Bullough's speed; however if he's going to be playing in the Big Ten he should be running away from everyone in Northern Michigan. What strikes me is his tackling form -- he wraps up the ball carrier with both arms, then drives with his legs until the tackle is finished. Granted he didn't do that on all the plays in his highlight video, but he had the proper technique on enough stops.
Bullough also had offers from Wisconsin and Iowa, so it's not like he only got the offer because of his brother and his family's storied history at Michigan State. When he enters Spartan Stadium representing Michigan State in the Fall of 2012, he'll be most like another Traverse City linebacker who had a great career, Eric Gordon. Like Gordon, Bullough appears to have the speed necessary to cover receivers and tight ends. He'll need to bring his weight up from 195 to the 210-220 range to be ready for Big Ten play, but with a year and a half to put on more muscle my level of concern is nonexistent.
Bullough will find plenty of competition at linebacker, as there are currently no seniors at the position, so all the Spartan 'backers (barring attrition of any sort) will be back for the 2012 season, including 2011 recruits Ed Davis, Darien Harris, Taiwan Jones, and barring a move to the defensive line, Lawrence Thomas. Bullough might not make an impact his freshman year, but that's alright -- not everyone can be Greg Jones.
Congratulations to Riley Bullough for joining the 2012 class, and now we can finally leave the driveway.