On the banks of the Red Cedar, recruiting never stops. We’re here every step of the way to keep you informed with our daily notebook. Recruiting questions? Comment below or direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll do our best to get them answered.
Holiday Bowl hopes
You might have seen the term “national brand” thrown around the last few days as a reason why the Outback Bowl selected Michigan over Michigan State. You might have been annoyed by it.
If that’s the case, maybe the Holiday Bowl is just what the Spartans need. They’ll head to San Diego — more than 2,000 miles from their home base — to take on No. 18 Washington State on Dec. 28.
What kind of impact could that have on recruiting on the West Coast? According to coach Mark Dantonio, Michigan State already has a strong presence in California, but this trip could serve to strengthen it.
“We have a name out there,” he said Sunday. “We have a national name that we can go out there. We’ve got different people out in that area, that alumni base. We’ve had some players out there in the past, so I do think that it can create a little bit of a buzz out there for us. It remains to be seen. It’s a long way to go.”
Seeing Michigan State play on the West Coast against a top Pac-12 team will certainly generate interest. Winning would help even more. The Spartans have only one Californian on their roster in freshman cornerback Emmanuel Flowers, but they have interest in adding several more.
Take junior college transfer Jordan Allen, for instance. He’s a 3-star defensive end in the 247Sports composite rankings and has earned a Spartans offer. But he’s also got schools such as Colorado, TCU, Utah after him.
Allen’s from the San Francisco area, so getting down to see the Holiday Bowl wouldn’t be easy. Plus he’s already scheduled a Michigan State official visit, per 247Sports’ Jordan Wieber. But just playing in California will generate plenty of interest in Michigan State football. The Spartans face a program with which recruits on the West Coast are familiar.
And Allen’s not the only one Michigan State will hope to impress. Michigan State wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel traveled to Las Vegas to visit Jalen Nailor, a 3-star Bishop Gorman speedster.
— Jalen Rasheed Nailor (@SpeedyNailor) December 5, 2017
The 5-foot-11 receiver recently de-committed from Arizona State after the Sun Devils fired coach Todd Graham. The Spartans had already put themselves in a good spot. They offered back in May, and Nailor plays alongside Michigan State offensive line commit Jacob Isaia.
This bowl game will be just as much about setting the stage for the future. The Spartans know plenty about the dynamic prospects out West. They want to make sure those players become interested in learning more about them.
Spartans offer junior prospects
Two things are creeping up fast for Michigan State: the Holiday Bowl in just more than three weeks and the early signing period, which begins in 15 days on Dec. 20.
But that hasn’t stopped Michigan State from putting forth a lot of effort into recruiting the younger classes. In two days, Spartans coaches offered two more 2019 prospects.
Defensive tackles coach Ron Burton was in his home state of Virginia on Monday and extended an offer to Flint Hill School (Oakton, Va.) running back Jordan Houston, a 3-star junior.
After sitting out much of his sophomore season with a leg injury, Houston seemed to recover just fine and rushed for 1,971 yards and 25 touchdowns this fall, according to MaxPreps. He also caught 10 passes for a ridiculous 342 yards and 4 scores. He averaged 11.9 yards per rush and 34.2 yards per catch.
Penn State and Virginia Tech got a jumpstart in his recruitment, but Michigan State hopes to make up ground with Houston. He ranks 37th nationally among junior running backs.
After visiting Nailor on Monday, Samuel made his way down to Houston, his hometown, on Tuesday. He visited Langham Creek High, where he extended an offer to junior safety Corien Azema.
Michigan State has offered a handful of 2019 safeties since the start of the live period, but most of them had already been nationally known. Azema previously held offers from SMU and Texas-San Antonio. Michigan State became his first from outside the state and his first from a Power 5 school.
Azema, who is unranked and unrated, told Land of 10 he was “honestly lost for words” upon receiving the offer.
In focus: 2018 commitment highlights
This is the last Tuesday highlights segment of the year. All Michigan State commits have completed their seasons.
Pickerington (Ohio) Central, with 4-star Spartans tight end commit Trenton Gillison and 3-star defensive back commit Xavier Henderson, went out with a bang, beating Mentor 56-28 in the Ohio Division I title game.
Gillison spent much of the game finishing blocks to open up lanes for Henderson, but his most impressive play came on defense. He had a ferocious strip-sack that he jumped on at Mentor’s 3-yard line.
Henderson did his thing in the backfield and the secondary. As the season progressed, he played more running back while maintaining his presence on defense. He didn’t seem to miss a step, and it led to him going out a state champion.
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