Note: We haven't forgotten about Evan Jones and Tyler O'Connor. Their "Welcome Aboard" posts are coming soon.
I expected at least one commit to occur after MSU's football camp for elite players this weekend, but I never expected something this well-ranked. Consensus four-star defensive end Se'Von Pittman gave a verbal commitment to Michigan State on Sunday, making him the sixth player in the 2012 recruiting class. When I say "consensus four-star", I mean consensus four-star. Take a gander at these rankings:
247 Sports: Four stars, #16 WDE, #10 Overall in Ohio, #196 Overall
Scout: Four stars, #11 DE, #79 Overall
Rivals: Four stars, #8 WDE, #61 Overall
ESPN: Four stars, #14 DE, #101 Overall
Take note -- 247 Sports, the recruiting service most bearish on Pittman still has him as a top 200 prospect. At 6'4" and anywhere from 225 to 245 pounds depending on what website you trust, Pittman has the size one would expect of a Big Ten defensive end. More on Pittman after the jump.
Pittman had a productive junior season at defensive end, tallying 96 hits (stat fail?), 14 tackles for a loss and five sacks, and he was named Northeast Inland District Defensive Player of the Year.
The Canton, Ohio product was offered a scholarhip in mid-February to match offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, West Virginia and Notre Dame. The Duane Long Report was complimentary of Pittman, implying that he could have a heck of a ceiling:
He has only been playing football for a couple of years. He did not start playing football until high school, whether it was his freshman or sophmore year is something I need to clear up. That inexperience plus his massive frame puts Pittman into my top six defensive linemen in the state.
Pittman's coach at Canton McKinley, Ron Johnson, sees a few ways Pittman can help the Spartan defense:
"Se'von is the type of player that could be 250 pounds and be a devastating linebacker in a 3-4 alignment," Johnson said. "Or he can become a 285- to 290-pound defensive lineman and do damage anywhere on the line. His potential is unlimited."
Even though Michigan State doesn't play a 3-4 base, it's nice to know his coach thinks his frame can hold 50-60 more pounds. His coach reiterated this sentiment to the Lansing State Journal after Pittman committed yesterday. Pittman stated that the coaching staff was a big part in why he chose to end his recruitment in East Lansing:
"What made me commit to Michigan State was coach (Pat) Narduzzi (defensive coordinator and primary recruiter of Pittman) and coach (Mark) Dantonio (head coach). They're great coaches and I wanted to be a part of something like that, and just the fact that I wanted to be different. I wanted to go there and make my own name and be Se'Von Pittman at Michigan State."
Pittman is the first defensive line commitment in this class, and with the number of defensive linemen Michigan State took last year (five), I'm not sure how many more there'll be. Jonathan Strayhorn and Antonio Jeremiah both graduate, and if the scouts stay high on Jerel Worthy, he'll probably be gone as well. If a log jam on the front four become a problem, Scout.com analyst Allen Trieu believes Pittman could fit somewhere else:
Allen Trieu of Scout writes of Pittman: "Has exceptional quickness off the ball and overall athleticism and agility. Can win with a speed rush and can win with quick inside moves. He has to get bigger and stronger, which will help him against the run, but he's a pure pass rusher. I think he's athletic enough to play a hybrid role and drop into coverage every now and then, but his forte will be coming after the passer."
This recruitment is big not solely because of Pittman's caliber, but because it means that a bit of momentum is present from the Big Ten title last season. While MSU isn't racking up recruits at the same rate Michigan has, there should be no doubt no that the Spartans can grab heralded athletes from outside of Michigan, and should be well positioned to build on Pittman's commitment.