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When it comes to in-state recruiting, Michigan State puts a premium on relationships.
In Mark Dantonio’s tenure, the Spartans have tried to cast their web across the state, getting close with high school coaches and getting to know players well before extending offers. The hope seems to be that those relationships will win out against other schools that show late interest.
That’s continued to be the strategy in the early days of 2017, as well. On three different dates this year, the football staff brought in a large group of prospects for a presentation, some face time with the coaches and a chance to watch a Spartans basketball game.
So many of the top prospects in Michigan, even if they’re just now getting noticed, have been steadily building strong relationships with Michigan State. Let’s list off a few (not all), and discuss Michigan State’s prospects with each.
Class of 2018
University of Detroit Jesuit ATH Elijah Collins
Though still unranked in the 247Sports composite, Collins has picked up offers from Boston College, Central Michigan, Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Illinois, Syracuse, Toledo and, in January, Michigan State.
He’d been waiting on the offer, as many in-staters tend to say of Michigan State. The Spartans had been in contact for quite some time. And though the 6-foot-1 junior projects as a linebacker, his coach says MSU has shown interest elsewhere, as well.
“They’re very interested in him at running back,” Oscar Olejniczak said. “They feel he’s very explosive. They feel that he’s the kind of guy who can carry the ball multiple times a game, and they think his ceiling is extremely high.”
Dearborn Divine Child QB Theo Day
Day has a similar story about waiting for a desired offer. He finally got his from Michigan State in January after the staff watched him in person during the season and took the time to evaluate him.
He said he won’t push his decision past March, and Michigan State is in the driver’s seat to land him. Recruiting coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brad Salem has built a particularly strong relationship with Day. The two will likely meet up again when Day visits Michigan State on Feb. 26.
“We have a great relationship,” Day said of Salem. “We’ve been building it since last spring when I went up there for spring practice, and it’s just kept getting stronger as time has gone on. He’s a great guy.”
Traverse City West OT Ryan Hayes
Michigan State will rely on its pipeline when it comes to Hayes. The Spartans know the Traverse City West staff well and occasionally make the trip upstate to visit the school.
In that way, they differ from schools like Virginia, which just offered Hayes on Tuesday. While some schools offered before even meeting Hayes, Michigan State got to know him very well before doing so.
Hayes rates as a 4-star recruit and the No. 13 tackle in the nation per 247Sports. Though Notre Dame will likely be a top contender, Michigan State stands out because of its familiarity.
Belleville CB Patrick Lupro
The relationship has steadily grown as Michigan State visits Belleville, a nearby high school with several FBS prospects. Cincinnati and Syracuse stand among those who have jumped in with offers to Lupro, rated the No. 9 junior in Michigan.
But at 5-foot-10 (according to his coach), Lupro might not necessarily fit the mold of what Michigan State prioritizes at cornerback. Whether it offers him will likely depend on how things go with other targets, first.
“If they go out and they find the guys that they’re looking for, the guys that are 6-1 that can run and jump, those are the guys they’re going to go after first,” Belleville coach Jermain Crowell said. “But they always know that Lupro loves Michigan State. He’s got a great relationship with the staff. It’s one of his top schools on his wish list.”
Class of 2019
Belleville OT Devontae Dobbs
As the lone in-state sophomore who has earned a Michigan State offer, he’ll be the lone one included on this list.
Dobbs, ranked the No. 1 tackle in the 2019 class by 247Sports, has visited Michigan State several times this academic year, both for football games and most recently a Junior Day event on Jan. 29.
For that reason, Crowell had encouraging words for the Spartans and their standing with Dobbs.
“I think it’s probably his favorite school right now,” Crowell said. “He’s familiar with them. That’s who he’s comfortable with.”