Land of 10 has embarked on a series of Next Generation articles, a project that aims to bring our readers greater insight into the class of 2017 signees. Michigan State reporter Luke Srodulski has hit the road to visit this year’s incoming class of freshmen and give you an inside look beyond Hudl highlights and head shots. Here’s a preview from Thursday’s visit with Suwanee (Ga.) athlete Connor Heyward.
SUWANEE, Ga. — Michigan State did more than enough to earn Connor Heyward’s pledge on his official visit in December.
Even though he waited a week to announce, he knew as soon as he left that he wanted to commit to the Spartans. Heyward, ranked as a 3-star athlete by 247sports, turned down hometown Georgia Tech, where his brother Corey played basketball. He chose MSU over his parents’ alma mater, Pittsburgh, where he could’ve been near another brother, Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward.
So that December visit must have been pretty spectacular.
But Heyward’s second trip to East Lansing might have been even more eventful.
He traveled with fellow Atlanta native and Spartans signee Tre Person to see the Green-White spring game on April 1, but he had a little more time to hang around than the other recruits. After spending time with fullback Reid Burton and with much of his Sunday free before a late flight, he heard from Spartans coach Mark Dantonio.
“Walk over to the facility.”
Heyward walked across the street from Case Hall to the Skandalaris Football Center. Dantonio was waiting for him.
“Hop in the car.”
Dantonio took Heyward on a personal tour of Michigan State’s massive 5,200-acre campus. Heyward plans to buy a moped once he gets on campus, ideally for a lower price from a graduating football player. It’s not easy to get around on foot.
They stopped at the new Lasch Family Golf Center, where they showed off their driving and putting skills. Heyward, not a routine golfer, shrugged off his skills on the links.
“I’m not the best of golfers,” he said. “I can drive it, but I’m not that good.”
After hitting some balls, Dantonio took Heyward over to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Living in the suburbs of Atlanta, Heyward is used to an urban environment. The juxtaposition between the farmland and the rest of campus caught him by surprise.
“I was so thrown off because here’s the city and everything,” he says, “and then on the other side of campus is the country. I was just like, ‘This is the best of both worlds.'”
I’m in the country, he thought to himself. And he got the full country experience. Dantonio won’t be Heyward’s coach until June, but the recruit still heeded his orders. He made Heyward hand over his phone so that the coach could take pictures.
Heyward went horseback riding for the first time in years, and he got nibbled by a horse for the first time ever. He smiled the whole way through — partly because it was a fun experience, partly because Dantonio told him to.
“I thought it was funny,” Heyward says. “I sent it to my mom and everybody.”
And now he’s sent it to Land of 10. Enjoy.
For the complete Michigan State NextGen series, click this link.