When four-star offensive lineman Clay Wedin made the decision to join Michigan State football’s 2023 recruiting class, it was because things became clear to him that he had found the exact right fit — a school and program that checked off every box Wedin was looking for during the process of his recruitment.
Wedin took an official visit to Michigan State during the weekend of June 10 and then announced his decision to verbally commit to the Spartans on June 14.
“I chose Michigan State because it met every one of my primary checks for where I wanted to go to school: strong development, stability of coaching staff, culture, vision and player development off the field,” Wedin said.
Wedin — a 6-foot-6, 295-pound versatile athlete who plays high school football at Carrollwood Day School in Tampa, Florida — is currently listed as the No. 21 interior offensive lineman in the 2023 class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He is also ranked as the No. 72 player in the state of Florida and the No. 382 prospect overall in the country.
While Wedin actually felt ready to commit during his official visit in East Lansing, he wanted to head back home to Florida first and discuss with his family. While Wedin’s dad, Josh, was able to make the trip with him, his mom, Angela, was not able to join. It was important to Wedin to get his mother’s blessing before officially making the decision to give a verbal pledge to Michigan State.
“I knew I wanted to commit toward the end of the visit in Coach (Mel) Tucker’s office,” Wedin said. “But my dad and I wanted to discuss with my mom prior before I pulled the trigger. She was unable to make the trip so it was important to me that she was good with it.”
As for the official visit itself, Wedin said some of the highlights of the trip were being able to spend time and learn from head strength and conditioning coach Jason Novak and head football performance dietitian/nutritionist Amber Rinestine.
While Wedin was on MSU’s campus, he was also able to pick the brains of current Michigan State offensive line members J.D. Duplain, Matt Carrick and Brian Greene (Greene, a Washington State graduate transfer, recently arrived in East Lansing himself). Wedin was able to ask the veteran offensive linemen questions and they provided advice.
“It was all really great from start to stop,” Wedin said about the official visit.
The conversations with Novak and Rinestine were particularly beneficial for Wedin. While he hasn’t quite made up his mind about the exact program he wants to major in, kinesiology and exercise science are areas of interest for him. In fact, he may eventually want to get into the professional strength and condition field after his football playing days.
Being able to learn from an accomplished strength and conditioning expert such as Novak during his time at Michigan State is something that Wedin believes will be invaluable to not only his time as player at MSU, but also for his career development.
“Coach Novak is a coach that I tremendously respect due to the results he has driven and the experience that he brings,” Wedin said. “But meeting him and getting an in depth look at his approach and mindset really put icing on the cake. There isn’t enough time in four years to learn all he has to offer, but I am going to soak his knowledge up to the fullest.”
Additionally, head coach Mel Tucker and assistant head coach/offensive line coach/run game coordinator Chris Kapilovic were big draws for Wedin to eventually choose Michigan State.
“(I have) great relationships with both of them, there is no doubt they shoot straight and don’t blow smoke,” Wedin said about Tucker and Kapilovic. “I have met a lot of coaches, and they are both the type of coaches that players love to play for. They will push me to be the best I can be.”
On the field, Wedin is ready to maul and dominate his opposition. While he doesn’t really have a preference between pass blocking or run blocking, he said, “I love to play some smash mouth ball!”
High school teammates become college teammates
Certainly, the vision, experience and culture that the Michigan State coaching staff has for the Spartans is a big reason why Tucker and his staff have put MSU back on the national radar and built recruiting pipelines throughout the entire country. But in addition to the coaches, when Wedin comes to East Lansing, he is expected to be joined by a familiar face.
Eddie Pleasant III is Wedin’s high school teammate at Carrollwood Day School. Pleasant, a three-star cornerback prospect, is also a Michigan State commit for the 2023 class. Wedin and Pleasant will have each other to rely on when trying to figure out the transition from high school in Florida to college in Michigan.
“Eddie is a great guy and is a person I respect as a teammate and person,” Wedin said. “It is nice to know that we will have each other to lean on whenever necessary. Just having the common bonds that we have is going to be great. I believe the program will ensure we are supported through the transition, but having a familiar face helps.”
“Stars are fool’s gold”
In addition to Michigan State, Wedin received scholarship offers from several national contenders and historical football powerhouses. In total, Wedin accumulated around 35 offers, including from Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Miami (FL.), USC, Michigan, Ohio State and several others.
While Wedin is thankful for the recruiting process, and is ranked as a four-star prospect, he doesn’t get too caught up in all of the offers, recruiting service stars or positional and national rankings. He is more about building genuine relationships and eventually proving himself on the field at the college level.
“(Scholarship) offers are just that, I have never put much weight into them,” Wedin said. “I have had major colleges that recruit me harder with no offer than some I have had offers from. It has opened doors for me to have a lot of looks to schools and that has blessed me to cut schools down way earlier than this year.
“(Recruiting service) stars are fool’s gold. I get how important they are to fans and to generate interest. Yeah, they make you feel good and people judge you off of them, but they mean very little to me, personally. Day one when I sit with the guys and Coach Kap (Kapilovic) in the offensive line room, no one there is going to care how many stars I or anyone else had, and that is a fact.”
While Wedin won’t officially be locked into Michigan State until he signs his National Letter of Intent in December or February, he is fully committed to the Spartans. In fact, he decided to cancel the rest of his planned official visits, which included a scheduled trip to Auburn later in June.
“I respect those other programs and coaches enough that I was not wanting to go through the motions and waste their time (on official visits),” Wedin said. “MSU was just love at first sight, so to speak.”
NIL is not a priority for Wedin
With college athletes now being able to cash in on potential name, image and likeness (NIL) deals, NIL could be a big recruiting driver for certain prospects. For Wedin, though, that is not a true motivating factor. He would welcome the right opportunities, but his focus is on the football field and in the classroom.
“NIL is not a priority to me, but the opportunities that don’t take away from my ability to focus on football or school will be something I will consider,” Wedin said.
Wedin’s position versatility and goals
Perhaps Wedin’s most valuable skill set on the field is his aforementioned versatility. His ability to play just about any position on the offensive line is what made him attractive to the Michigan State coaching staff.
Wedin does not have a preferred position, he could play in the interior at either guard spot, or on the outside at either tackle spot. When he eventually arrives in East Lansing, Wedin is ready and willing to play wherever his team needs him.
“I think one of my greatest traits is being able to play anywhere on that line,” Wedin said. “I can mash it up on the inside and I am comfortable playing either tackle. Each calls for a different approach with similar skill sets that you need to constantly work on, but it is something you don’t forget how to do. I believe the coaches will see where they need depth and put me wherever helps the team the most. I really don’t have a preference (where I play).”
As for his short-term goals, Wedin wants to help lead the Patriots to a state championship in Florida. Once he arrives at Michigan State, he is looking to prove himself and earn his teammates’ trust and respect, while making the team better any way he can.
“I have a few (goals), but primarily, my senior year goal is to win a state championship with my CDS teammates and coaches,” Wedin said. “My freshman year goal will be to learn all I can and contribute in any way the team needs me while showing my new teammates I am someone they can count on to put my all into the team.
“I will need to put thought into college (career) goals, but I will be someone the fans, and present and past Spartans, will be proud of if and when my name is brought up.”
Michigan State appears to be building something special in 2023
Michigan State seems to be building a special 2023 recruiting class with several four-star prospects currently verbally committed to the Spartans. The class currently ranks No. 11 nationally, according to 247Sports.
While, again, Wedin doesn’t value stars too much, he knows how to identify good football players. He sees plenty of those in MSU’s 2023 class thus far, and knows more players of that caliber are coming.
“I am very excited to get to know these guys!” Wedin said about MSU’s fellow 2023 commits. “Coach (Tucker) is bringing some real dudes in and it just shows everyone that he is executing his vision exactly as he sees it. Like I said earlier, he is true to his word. He is driven to get the right guys in the program and we will compete and earn those wins.”
During the weekend of Wedin’s visit, Michigan State actually landed a commitment from a fellow highly-recruited Florida four-star prospect in IMG Academy linebacker Jordan Hall.
“Jordan is a dude! I love seeing guys of his caliber be future teammate,” Wedin said when asked about Hall.
What else is there to know about Wedin?
Wedin lists his dad, his high school head coach, Marshall McDuffie, and high school offensive line coach, Raymond McNeil, as his mentors and role models.
Off of the field, Wedin enjoys hunting and fishing. His family has some acreage just outside of Tampa where they hunt feral hogs, which are nuisance species down south, and deer.
Wedin is more than just a football player and future Spartan athlete, though. He looks forward to introducing himself to Michigan State fans.
“I’m not just a number, I am different and I will make a difference,” Wedin said. “I know folks say that, so I also know it is on me to show it, just saying it is the easy part. I am a lineman through and through, making my teammates be the best they can is what drives me.”