Welcome Aboard- Khari Willis

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Football must have been feeling left out after all the basketball commit news. No longer.

Athlete Khari Willis

From:

Jackson, Michigan (Lumen Christi)

Height/Weight

Between 5'11'' and 6'0' and between 185 and 189 lbs. Everyone seems to pretty much be in agreement.

Ratings

Rivals- 3*, #13 player in MI; Scout- 3*, #42 RB, unranked so far by the other two sites

Notable Offers

Cincinnati, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Buffalo

Thoughts on Offer List

Not quite the classic camp scenario of evaluation/offer/quick commit, as MSU offered Willis back in January. But there are some similarities in the offer lists for that type of situation, as Willis has two of the three smaller in-state schools, another MAC school in Buffalo (coming off a breakout year for them), and Cincinnati (is the American a power conference anymore?).

If you were looking for reasons beyond the obvious as to why his offer list isn't a bit longer at this point, one explanation I could offer is that Willis doesn't seem to have been touring around the camp circuit, so if you're outside of Michigan he might not be on your radar. The second explanation is that Willis has been pretty forthright about his favorite from the time MSU offered. It wasn't (and isn't) a foregone conclusion that Willis would end up at MSU,  but I could see teams not willing to chase someone they might've seen as close to committing somewhere else.

Thoughts on Film

On offense, I'd describe his running back film as reminiscent of current Spartan Jeremy Langford. He's good at shifting his weight and frame to avoid taking direct hits and is also adept at keeping his legs churning to drag would be tacklers. He frequently is able to make the first tackler miss at or behind the line of scrimmage and then get up-field for positive yards. A lot of times it seems his offense throws him a toss and says, "Okay, make something good happen." and he often does.

On the negative, that shifty running style means he does a lot of East to West running and though his speed and power is often enough to get him the corner against his current level of opposition, that much diagonal running might not fly in the Big Ten. There's also not a lot to suggest he'd be able to immediately contribute in the passing game or in pass blocking.

As for his defensive film, the Denicos Allen comparison seems apt. Allen came in as a safety and made the switch to linebacker while Willis is currently a HS linebacker, but both are the sort of tweener S/LB prospects that the Spartan defense allows to tear after the passer or running back off of the outside shoulder of their DE. He shows no fear crashing into lineman to hold the edge against the run, and hunts down QBs from their blindside on the other end. The chatter is that MSU is looking for Willis to make an impact more on defense than offense, but as the aforementioned Langford has showed us, these things can be fluid.

Lumen Christi is a school of under 500 kids, so it would appear they compete in one of the state's smaller divisions, meaning both Willis' competition and teammates might not be the most formidable.

Bonus: Basketball?

In the past, Willis has mentioned walking on the Spartan basketball team after the football season ends, a situation Izzo is cool with. While this set-up is more awkward then when Matt Trannon completed the feat (Spartan football players don't have Decembers free anymore, not that I'm complaining), Dion Sims showed it's still possible, if not easy.

Willis looks to get to the hoop and either finish at the rim with a variety of nice layups, or dish to a waiting teammate on the low block after he's attracted the attention of the defense. It's maybe cliche to say, but he seems to approach basketball like a running back, looking to blow by the first defender and quickly weave into dangerous areas in the defense. A jump-shot doesn't appear to be a very prominent part of his arsenal, but his six minute video features a couple of makes, for whatever that means or doesn't mean. The video mentions he averages 4 steals a game.

Reflections on the rest of the class

Willis is MSU's 6th commit in the class of 2015. Whether he ends up at running back, linebacker, or safety, he currently represents the first of MSU's commits at any of those spots, and that flexibility is certainly valued by the Spartan staff. I'd expect about 10-12 slots are left in MSU class. He'll be on a football scholarship regardless of whether he also plays basketball.

Congrats to Khari on joining up with the Spartans, and welcome!

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