The first of two commitments on Thursday (more on Josiah Price later), Southfield Lathrup linebacker Jamal Lyles became MSU's eighth recruit in the 2012 class. Let's take a look at his rankings:
Rivals: 3 star, 5.7 Rivals ranking, #44 outside linebacker
247 Sports: 3 star, grade of 83
ESPN: 3 star, grade of 76, #81 outside linebacker
Scout: 3 star, #50 outside linebacker
Keep in mind a grade of 76 on ESPN is not equivalent to a grade of 76 on 247 Sports, as ESPN's top player has a grade of 90 while 247 Sports's has a grade of 100. Nevertheless, all the services agree that he's a Big Ten talent, with Rivals being the most bullish on Lyles's potential.
The 6'3", 215 pound player's recruitment picked up after an impressive performance at the Sound Body Sound Mind camp in Detroit this past week, and Lyles had this to say about it then:
"I'm pretty excited about hopefully getting a Michigan State offer," Lyles said to SpartanMag.com' Jim Comparoni. "They have been following me around the whole day and I feel like I have been performing well, so I will probably know before this week is over about an offer."
He was offered a Michigan State scholarship soon thereafter to match his offers from Iowa, Stanford, Illinois, Cincinnati, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Vanderbilt. Lyles made his school decision final today (or yesterday, depending on when this article is finished), and although the scouting services have Lyles pegged as an outside linebacker, there's still a chance Lyles could play in the middle:
Any of the three linebacker spots are possibilities for Lyles, he says, and playing early is as well.
"Playing early is a strong possibility because Eric Gordon and Greg Jones played since they were freshmen. They have four freshmen coming in and two linebackers, so we're all going to have to compete for the linebacker positions and I can play all three because of my athleticism."
While playing early is a definite possibility, I'm not sure if he'll able to beat out who's in front of him as a freshman. Chris Norman and Max Bullough should be firmly entrenched at the top of depth chart, Lawrence Thomas is going to play somewhere, and Ed Davis is a very similar player to Lyles, even having parallel recruitments -- like Lyles Davis was first noted by the Spartan staff at the Sound Body Sound Mind camp. Like Lyles, Davis is a 6'3"-6'4" outside linebacker who could use a few pounds. Like Lyles, Davis is described as "rangy"; that is he should be able to cover receivers, a weakness made manifest during the 2009 Penn State game, a.k.a. Daryll Clark throws a wheel route to someone who scores from 50 yards out.
Regardless of when he sees the field, Lyles continues a trend of the coaching staff seeking tall, quick outside linebackers who have the mobility needed to counter spread offenses. That's more than welcome, and welcome Jamal to Michigan State.