Spring Games and their lead-up practices are always a big recruiting period, and with nice weather and solid fan turnout, Saturday was no different for Michigan State. Though only Brian Lewerke has verbally committed (so far), the Spartans improved their standing with a host of top prospects from around the Midwest and beyond over the past weeks.
Spartans are No. 1 for 2015 pair.
With the incoming graduation of Marcus Rush and the possible (probable? probable.) early departure of Shilique Calhoun, there could be openings for playing time at both of MSU's defensive end positions. Having NFL rookie and former Spartan standout Will Gholston, who made box-score contributions in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers final 9 games, on hand in addition to that, couldn't have hurt MSU's chances with the highly sought after defensive end Jashon Cornell, whose visit went so well that he was willing to name the Spartans his current leader over such programs as Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, USC, and Stanford.
Key quote in an article chock full of good vibes:
"I noticed that defense is all world and I see myself playing in that defense in the future," Cornell said.
That article goes on to say he's planning on making his decision in late August, a timeline that would seem to favor MSU, but also that he's still taking more visits between now and then.
LB/S prospect Saleem Brightwell represents a continuation of Michigan State's push into the fertile recruiting ground of the New Jersey/Maryland/D.C. seaboard and their desire for hybrid style players as comfortable in pass coverage as they are blitzing or filling run gaps. After a pre-Spring Game visit, Brightwell also felt comfortable declaring the Spartans his current #1($), over the likes of Wisconsin, Iowa, Pitt, Maryland, and North Carolina.
Ohio trio's visits compound interest
Offensive Tackle Noah Listermann made it up to the Spring game for his third visit to East Lansing. If his high school, Winton Woods, in Cincinnati, strikes you as familiar, that's the same high school as last year's long-pursued DT target Daniel Cage. MSU is also chasing Listermann's fellow tackle and Winton Woods teammate, George Brown.
Following their April 24th offer to Listermann it seems the Spartans have rocketed up his offer list, past schools like Louisville, Cincinnati, and Indiana. Ohio State, who has not offered, lurks as they do over all Ohio prospects. One source likes MSU's odds with Listermann and thinks the OSU summer football camp will be an indicator to watch in his recruitment:
Ohio running back Larry Scott does hold the coveted Buckeye offer, along with offers from Southern running back powerhouses like Alabama and Auburn, but he may be willing to be the first Ohio prospect to turn down the Buckeyes for Dantonio and co., an outcome that's come oh-so-close to happening a few times in the last four years, but never quite materialized. His Spring Game visit was his third to East Lansing in about 2 and a half months, a sign of serious interest on his part. Also, hot off the Twitter presses via friend of TOC Mike Wilson, this quote:
Hubbard (Ohio) RB Larry Scott: "It's going to be tough for any school to top Michigan State for me." ($) http://t.co/5OMlpcxKXY— Mike Wilson (@MikeWScout) April 29, 2014
Former Michigan State RB standout (and Ohio native) Le'Veon Bell, fresh off breaking Franco Harris' all-purpose yardage record for a rookie Steeler RB, was in town and his presence made an impact on another Ohio RB, and Steelers fan, Darrin Hall. Post-visit, his second to EL, Hall was willing to put the Spartans into his current top group alongside offers Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky, as well as Michigan and Ohio State, who have not yet offered.
Michigan State looks to within
Alongside the out of state visitors was a large contingent of in-state offers in the 2015 class, a group who the Spartans are looking to break through with after several seasons of struggles with Brady Hoke's Wolverine staff on the recruiting trail.
Cass Tech, a high school where MSU has made the sorts of strides recently that it wants to make in the state of Michigan at-large, was important enough to be hosted with a formal 'Cass Tech Day' from the Spartan football program a month ago. The visit brought kids as young as freshmen to East Lansing, but the current focus is clearly on 2015 classmates RB Mike Weber and DE/OT Joshua Alabi. Most recruiting insiders I've seen think the Spartans have good chances with both players, but competition from Michigan and Tennessee in particular will be strong.
Saginaw standout Brian Cole was on campus again, and it looks like the Spartans remain in good position with the talented two-way player, with Ohio State and Michigan likely the toughest competition for his verbal. This might be a recruitment that could stretch into next year.
Detroit King's Tyriq Thompson, teammate of current 2015 Spartan commit Kyonta Stallworth, was also present.Thompson, a linebacker, is the son of former Wolverine Clarence Thompson. His pops seems to be relaxed about the in-state battle over Tyriq:
"I think it’s great that he has the opportunity to continue the legacy. Tyriq knows that I’m Maize and Blue through and through, but ultimately he has to make a decision that’s best for him for the following four years."
Spartan offer John Kelly out of Oak Park was on hand Saturday, and seems to be a Spartan lean at this point, but he's done his due diligence checking out both of his other two offers so far, Minnesota and Central Michigan.
Running back Joshuwa Holloman does not yet have a Spartan offer, however he visited last week after running very, very, fast and jumping very, very, high at a combine in Texas earlier this year. According to that linked article, he's planning to camp at MSU in June and it will be interesting to see if he shows enough to earn an offer then.
It seems like Michigan State is in very good position with nearly all of the best players in Michigan in 2015, thanks in part to their recent success and the presence and initiative of recruiting coordinator Curtis Blackwell. There's obviously a long way to go, but the Spartans have to like where they're sitting right now.
Other April MSU visits from 2015 kids:
C, Ben Swanton*
DT, Kraig Howe*
TE, Austin Ervin*
DE, Immanuel Stinson*
RB, Alex Grace*
WR, Alex Ofodile
ATH, Dyson Chmura*
DT, Elijah Taylor
WR, Cameron Green*
DT, Deshawn Baker-Williams*
RB, Jonathan Femi-Cole*
LB, Anthony McKee
TE, Cole Chewins*
OT, Zeke Martin*
S, Mykelti Williams*
TE, Hale Hentges
LS, Liam McCullough
QB, Bruce Mann*
OG, Hunter Littlejohn*
ATH, Jerome Baker
WR/TE, Miles Boykin
S, Aaron Garland*
DE, Clelin Ferrel
LB/FB, Alex Hart*
DT, Jordan Thompson
ATH, Alec Ingold*
QB, Kyle Guster*
April's MSU offers to 2015 kids:
OT, Quinn Oseland
DE, Darian Roseboro
OG/DT, Chandler Jones
TE, Chris Clark
OT, Drayton Carlberg
OT, Jalen Merrick
CB, Ryan Pulley
CB, PJ Mbanasor
CB, Jaylon Lane