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After Kalon Gervin, what happens next?
What a weekend for Michigan State.
The football team, ranked 16th in the nation, accepted an invitation to play in the Holiday Bowl. The men’s basketball team, No. 3 in the nation, beat up on Nebraska to start 1-0 in Big Ten play.
And on Saturday night, the Spartans landed their highest-ranked cornerback commit in the history of the 247Sports composite. Four-star Detroit Cass Tech cornerback Kalon Gervin, the 20th-ranked senior cornerback in the nation, pledged to the Spartans over Oregon, ending a lengthy recruiting process.
Michigan State could benefit from the ripple effect of Gervin’s commitment. The Spartans had been struggling with top in-state talent earlier in the cycle but now have five senior commits from Michigan, including 4-star recruits Gervin and Theo Day. Who might be next?
The obvious answer is La’Darius Jefferson. The 3-star Muskegon (Mich.) athlete led his team to an undefeated season and state championship as a quarterback, and now he’s tasked with figuring out where he’ll go to school.
Michigan State is pushing hard. The Spartans offered on Nov. 10, leading to Jefferson’s de-commitment from Central Florida days later. And in their latest move, Spartans coach Mark Dantonio and co-defensive coordinator Mike Tressel (Jefferson’s main recruiter) met with the 6-foot-2 senior at his home.
— L A ‘ D A R I U S J E F F E R S O N (@LaDariusJ2) December 4, 2017
Jefferson had initially set up a visit to Michigan State for the upcoming weekend, then said he would visit Indiana. Then he reverted to his original plan. The Spartans will have a good chunk of their 2018 class on campus to host him.
Having been unusually transparent throughout his entire process, Jefferson continued on Sunday night. He announced, to the dismay of those who will have to write about it, that he plans to share his decision on a major holiday.
“I would like to thank my family for all the support and love through my whole life and getting me to this point in my life,” he wrote. “With doing so I will be announcing my commitment on Christmas Day.”
That probably didn’t thrill the Michigan State coaches. They would like to seal up this recruitment in time for Jefferson to sign during the early period, from Dec. 20-22. Otherwise, other schools will try to gain ground.
Indiana has already offered Jefferson as a quarterback, his position of choice. Nebraska might come through and do the same. After all, the Huskers just hired Scott Frost, who had recruited him to Central Florida as a quarterback.
Michigan State has only committed to offering him a spot as an athlete. That would likely mean running back or possibly linebacker, Tressel’s preference. But who knows? Maybe Jefferson will get a shot to play the position he loves if he ends up with the Spartans. His coach, Shane Fairfield, compared him to MSU quarterback Brian Lewerke.
“He’s kind of a similar player to [Lewerke] because that guy will hurt you with his legs just as much as he will with the arm,” Fairfield said. “So maybe they’ll take a chance and bring him in. But I know they have kind of narrowed it down … to being an athlete.”
What about 2019?
Michigan State has used the contact period and its break from games to go after the younger classes, particularly the talented crop of juniors in the state. College coaches can’t have sit-down meetings with these players yet, but they can visit high schools and talk to coaches.
After he visited with his commits, Michigan State offensive line coach Mark Staten hit the Michigan roads. He checked in at East Kentwood High on Friday, and that might end up being a crucial spot for the Spartans.
Four-star offensive tackle Logan Brown has committed to Wisconsin, but his teammate, 4-star defensive tackle Mazi Smith, has not. And he has a special connection: His cousin is former Michigan State star T.J. Duckett.
“T.J. told me that when you make your decision, you have to realize that you’re going to have to live there for four years,” Smith said to Land of 10. “And you’re not going to really be able to change where you’re going, so you’ve got to make sure it feels like home. You’ve got to make sure you’ve built relationships with the people, and it’s got to be a good program.”
The Spartans also checked in on Belleville High, home to the state’s top juniors: 5-star offensive tackle Devontae Dobbs and 4-star cornerback Julian Barnett. Both have been high priorities for the staff.
Then, of course, there’s Gervin’s teammate, 4-star running back Jaren Mangham. He’s the most obvious in-state junior who may be impacted by Gervin’s decision.
Commits win state championships
Three Michigan State commits took the field over the weekend for the last time in high school. All three walked away with state championships.
First was Pickerington (Ohio) Central, home to 4-star tight end commit Trenton Gillison and 3-star defensive back commit Xavier Henderson. On Friday, they took down Mentor in convincing fashion, 56-28, to win the Ohio Division I title.
Per ThisWeek Community News, Gillison forced and recovered a fumble at Mentor’s 3-yard line, and Henderson ran for a 24-yard touchdown. It’s only fitting that two players who played such large roles in Central’s title run would help carry the Tigers through their final game.
On Saturday, 3-star offensive line commit Jacob Isaia and national powerhouse Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) won the Nevada Class 4A title. Anyone surprised? Probably not. The Gaels have won it nine straight years.
As usual, it was never in doubt. Isaia and Gorman raced out to a 48-0 lead and ultimately beat Reed (Sparks, Nev.), 48-7. Next stop for Isaia? Michigan State. But he won’t be enrolling early, so move-in day is still awhile out.
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