The Michigan State Spartans football program recently finalized its 2018 recruiting class as National Signing Day came and went. It was a rather uneventful day for the Spartans, as the majority of recruits signed during the early period and a few preferred walk-ons were added. However, one key recruit officially signed with MSU and his name is Jalen Nailor.
Nailor verbally announced his commitment to the Spartans this past Saturday on Twitter, and made it official by signing his letter of intent on Wednesday. Michigan State gains a wide receiver with plenty of speed and elusiveness.
So why did Nailor, a three-star wide receiver from well-know Las Vegas prep school Bishop Gorman, decide to spend his college career in East Lansing?
“I chose MSU because of the tradition and the family feels I got from being around the coaches and players,” Nailor said. “I also love how they play — fast, physical and tough. I also believe we will compete for championships each year.”
I could tell from speaking with Nailor just how excited he is to become a Spartan, as well as his passion for the game. Although his path to wearing green and white on Saturdays wasn’t always so clear.
Nailor originally committed to Arizona State in July. However, ASU head coach Todd Graham was fired from the program in November and Nailor decided to de-commit. But Graham’s firing wasn’t the only reason that pulled him away from the Sun Devils.
“I had planned on de-committing anyways,” Nailor said when asked about Graham’s firing. “Deep down I just didn’t get the feeling it was the right place for me and thought I should look at other universities.”
Michigan State had sent out a scholarship offer to Bishop Gorman’s three-star wide receiver back in May. It also helped matters that his high school teammate, Jacob Isaia, will also be making the trip from Vegas to East Lansing.
Isaia, who is a three-star offensive linemen, committed to MSU in October. Nailor, Isaia and defensive end Parks Gissinger (California) make up the trio of 2018 players coming over from the Western United States. All three recruits attended the Holiday Bowl together on Dec. 28 in San Diego, which Nailor said was “very exciting,” and that he was impressed by the play of the team and the fan support.
“Yes it’s a blessing to have a teammate there with me,” Nailor said of Isaia. “It most definitely will help with the transition (to college). I have started to build relationships with some of my other brothers in the 2018 class as well.”
Nailor, who is nicknamed “Speedy,” was a touchdown machine during his three years for the Bishop Gorman Gaels. He scored 12 touchdowns on 41 catches, amassing 807 yards, as a senior. He scored 28 touchdowns and gained nearly 2,000 receiving yards in his high school career.
The “Speedy” moniker is something that has stuck with the quick and shifty wide out ever since youth football, and for good reason. He’s clocked in 40-times as fast as 4.49 seconds, and consistently hits the 4.5 mark.
“I got my nickname from my very first year of pop warner football from my coach because I was the smallest, but the fastest,” Nailor told me. “I’m consistently a 4.5 guy but that’s not as fast as I believe I will become in college with training.”
He may not be the biggest, but Speedy isn’t exactly Darren Sproles-sized, either. While recruiting websites list him around 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, Nailor informed me that he is actually 6-foot even and weights 182 pounds. His stature may be tailored more to the slot position, but his size shouldn’t hinder him from playing on the outside if need be.
Speed and quickness aren’t the only aspects of his game that got several Division I and Power 5 schools interested in Nailor, though. His ability to create and make people miss in open space can’t be overstated.
‘I’ve always been the kind of player that loves to make people miss in open space. It comes naturally, I guess. Making big plays are just exciting to me.”
As mentioned, schools took notice of Nailor’s game. He received offers from Arizona, Colorado, UConn, Hawaii, Nebraska, Nevada, UNLV, Utah, Big Ten rival Wisconsin and of course Arizona State. According to the 247Sports Composite, Nailor ranks as the No. 119 wide receiver in the entire country and No. 7 player overall in Nevada.
Obviously, MSU had plenty of competition from a lot of noteworthy schools. But the school on the banks of the Red Cedar stood out to Nailor when he took his official visit in January.
“The thing that stood out the most to me was the family feeling,” he said. “The fans were great, the campus was beautiful, and the atmosphere at the basketball game was lit!”
On top of that, the coaching staff made the incoming freshmen feel like he was already a part of the program. Nailor says that he is already close with Coach Mark Dantonio, Coach Terrence Samuel, Coach Mark Staten and the rest of the offensive coaching staff, adding that they made his decision “really easy.”
However, he understands that nothing comes easy, especially on the football field. While recent transfers from the wide receivers group may have opened up spots, Nailor will need to earn a role with the team. And he’s ready to do just that.
“(Playing as a freshman) is absolutely a goal of mine, and would have been a goal no matter where I chose,” he said. “The coaches just told me to come in and work hard and compete, nothing is promised. They were very upfront and honest.”
That just leaves us with one other piece of business: how will a West Coast kid adjust to the frigid temperatures and snow in Michigan?
“I’m originally from California, but I moved to Vegas four years ago to attend my high school,” Nailor informed me. “Yes, it does get pretty cold in Michigan but I’m honestly looking forward to the change. I guess I’ll learn to snowboard,” he added somewhat jokingly.
He may be from the West Coast, but he is already beaming with a green and white glow, and his passion for his soon-to-be-school is easy to see. His aspirations, both personally and for the team, are lofty.
Nailor is very cordial and a joy to talk to. I am excited to see what he can do in the next few years. He wanted to leave us with one more thing:
“I look forward to being a part of the the Spartan family and helping (us) win a national championship! Go Green!”
If you haven’t already, check out Nailor’s senior highlights below. Also, this was the 11th installment of the Commitment Spotlight Series. Be sure to learn about the other recruits as well!