Offensive tackle Chase Gianacakos, St. Charles (Ill.) North - 6-foot-6, 280 pounds
Ratings: 247 (3 star), Rivals (3 star), Scout (3 star), ESPN (unranked)
Notable offers: Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Kansas
It is no secret that MSU fans are pining to see good offensive line recruits come to East Lansing and Chase Gianacakos got the 2014 class its first offensive lineman with his commitment to Michigan State on Monday morning.
"From my first visit I knew it was a special place," Gianacakos said. "I connected well, from academics to strength coaches to offensive line coach (Mark) Staten and coach (Mark) Dantonio. It really is a great place."
After visiting MSU last week, Gianacakos came away feeling comfortable in many aspects of MSU life.
"It was just great being there, hanging out with Jack Allen and his roommate," he said. "I really connected with them as more than a recruit the coaches told them they had to talk to -- they felt like friends."
The academic side of the visit also made a strong impact on Gianacakos, as he is looking to major in either finance or accounting.
"I went to a business meeting with an adviser and I came away really comfortable with the academics and it gave me more thoughts on programs."
After it all -- and a visit to Minnesota -- Gianacakos said everything kept coming back to MSU as he thought about his recruitment and knew it was time to commit.
"I am not that kid that wants 30 offers or to decommit if major schools come calling, I am committed to MSU and want to be there and help recruit guys to come with me."
Gianacakos also works out with Core6 Athletes, a major football training program in Illinois that also produced MSU commit Demetrius Cooper last year. He is close with one of MSU's top targets, Brian Allen, and is working on getting him to MSU.
"I would love to play with Brian. I love him as a player and a friend," Gianacakos said. "I actually was texting him today saying we gotta get you committed."
As for what he brings to a program, Gianacakos stressed the intangibles.
"I'm a good leader and a hard worker -- I'm willing to work hard academically, athletically, everything," he said. "I want to learn and keep getting better and better for both my high school program and Michigan State."
Gianacakos is a big get for a lot of reasons for Michigan State. Firstly, he is a solid recruit from Illinois -- a state where MSU has not done well under Dan Roushar. It's clear Ron Burton is having an impact there.
Throw into that mix that he is from the aforementioned Core6 Athletes, and that connection is valuable. Guys like Brian Allen and Jamarco Jones are top MSU targets from Core6, but there also are players like Nyles Morgan that MSU is recruiting.
#MichiganState also leads for a couple more of our 2014 prospects.— #COMPETE (@core6athletes) April 1, 2013
Lastly, he is an Illinois legacy. His dad played football at Illinois and his mom played volleyball, so getting Gianacakos to East Lansing is really nice.
But, what might be the most intriguing thing about Gianacakos as a recruit is that he has only been playing football since his freshman year. He and his family lived in Shanghai through his middle school years, as well as time in England and Spain before that.
In other words, he is raw, but very talented. Even more importantly, he stressed that he understands how technical playing on the offensive line is -- and how much he wants to work at both pass blocking and run blocking to get better.
On film, Gianacakos flashes talent in both the run and the pass game.
In the run game, he often is pushing his defender back 10 yards or more -- if he doesn't pancake him at the line. He shows pursuit to finish every block and very strong drive with his legs.
When it comes to the pass game, Gianacakos shows agility and quick feet moving side to side, while using his long arms to keep a defender at bay. He is definitely at his best when he gets his hands on the rusher early in his back pedal.
As he said himself, technique is where he needs the most improvement, but that is something that comes with time. The size is there and he carries his frame well, which bodes well for him hitting the weight room at MSU.
Gianacakos said the staff strongly hinted that he will be redshirted, something he said he is okay with and understands it is typical for an offensive lineman in the Big Ten to redshirt.
The Spartans are looking to have four or five offensive lineman in this class and Gianacakos is a great start.
He is the fourth commitment in the 2014 class, joining linebackers Byron Bullough and Deon Drake and quarterback Chris Durkin.