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Spartans look at versatile 2019 RB from Chicago
Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy isn’t known as a football school.
It’s not because the Wolverines football program isn’t good. Heck, it’s great. Simeon has qualified for 28 of the last 29 state playoffs. But basketball rules at the school.
Michigan State has shown interest in several players over the years from the powerhouse hoops program that has won six state titles in 12 years. Some fans will remember the pain of missing on Simeon star Jabari Parker, who went to Duke. Some might look ahead to the possibility of reeling in Simeon wing Talen Horton-Tucker, a 4-star prospect in the 247Sports composite.
But now the Spartans are taking a close look at a Simeon running back. Three-star junior Anthony Williams Jr. first visited for a camp in the summer, where he said he was a top performer. He has since spoken with running backs coach Dave Warner and defensive tackles coach Ron Burton.
“I like them,” Williams said of Warner and Burton. “They seem to know what they’re [doing]. They are constantly coaching their kids up.”
The prospect of playing for Michigan State appeals to Williams in part because of the location. His father has never missed one of his games, and he hopes to keep it that way.
Williams wants to find “a perfect fit” for his needs. He wants to study sports medicine (which Michigan State offers) and live on a campus with great amenities. A recent visit to a Spartans practice on July 31 included a tour, allowing him to see more of the school.
Great visit at MSU today… pic.twitter.com/T6qbVuZ0nI
— Anthony Williams Jr. (@antwilliamsjr34) July 31, 2017
“They have a pretty nice campus,” the 6-foot, 190-pound back said, “and they’re still building on what they have. The running backs are a tight-knit group and they use their big backs. Coach Warner is always coaching you up.”
Michigan State’s three main backs — Gerald Holmes, Madre London and LJ Scott — all stand at least 6-foot-1 and weigh at least 218 pounds. And while Williams has size that could soon compare, he feels he has the agility of someone smaller.
“I think I’m an all-purpose back,” he explained. “I can run, pass, block and throw out of the backfield. I think I’m a mixture of Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson and Emmitt Smith. I’ve been told I run hard and fast, and I’m able to maneuver like a small back.”
He has the Spartans’ attention. They haven’t offered, but Arkansas State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Northern Illinois, and South Dakota State all have. Williams ranks 47th nationally among 2019 running backs.
He has plenty of time to come to a decision, and there likely won’t be any rush. He wants to find the right fit.
“After all,” Williams said, “I will be staying there for at least three years.”
MSU basketball high in 2018 recruiting rankings
Two Division I college basketball programs currently have four players committed to their 2018 classes, and they both come from the Big Ten: Rutgers (seriously) and Michigan State.
The Spartans have been on four since landing 4-star forward Marcus Bingham Jr. on June 30. At one point, the 247Sports composite had their class ranked No. 1 the country. That ranking has fallen to No. 3 behind Arizona and USC. Any addition would move them back to the top, and Spartans coach Tom Izzo continues to recruit hard with his staff.
Rivals, which gives 4 stars to all four of Michigan State’s commits — Bingham, Gabe Brown, Thomas Kithier and Foster Loyer — puts the class at No. 2 ahead of USC and behind Arizona in its new rankings. Scout, which has Kithier and Loyer as 3-star recruits, ranked the Spartans fourth. 247Sports’ independent ranking has them in the same spot.
Michigan State will look to add one more prospect, and potentially two, giving it a good chance to regain and retain that top spot. Teams with a lot of one-and-done players such as Duke and Kentucky will have something to say about that, though.