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Blake Zubovic is well aware of what’s going on at Michigan State.
He saw the struggles of a 3-9 season last fall. He saw the severity of the sexual assault charges against four now-former Spartans in the spring.
And he also took note of the external investigation that concluded Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio acted according to university policy in response to the allegations. That’s what resonated with the Belle Vernon (Pa.) junior offensive lineman.
“I think Coach Dantonio handled it really well, really responsibly and the best way he could,” Zubovic said. “It’s not a perfect world. You’ve got to look past some of that stuff. I think it’s time for them now, and I think they’re ready to focus on football.”
Zubovic, a 3-star tackle in the 247Sports composite, picked up an offer from Michigan State on May 6, and it remains his most recent offer. Despite the relatively late move, compared to the 15 other schools that have offered, he included the Spartans in his top five with Maryland, Penn State, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech.
TOP 5🚨🚨🚨 pic.twitter.com/YsBlgp8tiF
— Big Z🎒 (@blake_zubovic66) June 5, 2017
But why? The 6-foot-5 standout has visited four schools on his list, but not Michigan State. In fact, he’s never even been inside the state. So why include the Spartans?
“It’s mostly just my relationship with those two coaches,” he said. “I know the culture at Michigan State. It’s a big-time football school. Outside of last year, obviously, they’ve been one of the best, if not the best team in the Big Ten over the last 10 years. Everything I like, I hear from [offensive line coach Mark] Staten and Coach Dantonio. That’s the biggest reason why.”
Zubovic doesn’t have any significant connections to Michigan State, but Staten’s “down to earth” nature has stuck out. He noted the production of offensive linemen under Staten and cited Jack Conklin, who progressed from a walk-on in 2012 to an NFL All-Pro for the Titans in 2016.
He doesn’t yet know where on the line he will play in college. Michigan State, Maryland and Virginia Tech have expressed interest at tackle, while Penn State and Pitt want him at guard.
Zubovic will learn more when he visits Michigan State, which he plans to do sometime over the weekend of June 17-18. It likely will be a standard unofficial visit rather than a camp trip.
“I just want to meet the rest of the staff, talk to Coach Dantonio in person and just look around campus,” he said. “I want to see what it’s like, what’s out there, the facilities, dorms, all that. That’ll be the biggest thing, just looking around.”
After that, he’ll have seen all the schools in his top five. He plans to announce his pick in “late June or early July.”
For Michigan State to win Zubovic’s commitment, it will have to overcome Pitt. He has followed the Panthers for years and is being heavily recruited by their head coach, former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.
But despite past rooting interests, Zubovic didn’t acknowledge a clear advantage for any of the schools on his list.
“Right now, it’s probably an even playing field with my top five,” he said.
Newly offered tackle plans visit
A week before Zubovic arrives, Michigan State will host another tackle target offered in May.
While Zubovic is on the fringe between tackle and guard, 3-star Bay Port (Green Bay, Wis.) junior Jack Plumb is on the other side of things. Michigan State sees him potentially starting at tight end before growing into a tackle spot.
The Spartans want both prospects, and Plumb has set a date for his trip to East Lansing. He told Land of 10 he intends to visit campus on Monday, June 12.
The 6-8 Plumb made quick work of scheduling a visit after picking up an offer on May 31. The trip will afford his mother a chance to visit her alma mater.
“I was super happy,” Plumb said Thursday of his Michigan State offer. “It means a lot getting that one with all the connections I have over there, and obviously being another Big Ten school.”