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Joe Wilkins has college coaches across the nation fighting over him. And not just coaches on different teams.
Take Michigan State, for instance. Both wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel and defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett have been lobbying for the North Fort Myers (Fla.) junior’s services.
“I told the wide receivers coach exactly what I tell everybody else: ‘I’ll play what you want me to play,’” The 6-foot-2 Wilkins said. “He said he likes me at wide receiver. I’ve never talked to the DB coach, but [Samuel] said in the staff meeting, the DB coach liked me at DB as well. [Samuel] said it’s whatever I want to play.”
Wilkins’ future seems to most likely be at wide receiver — he’s been playing it for much longer and has learned the intricacies from his position coach, former NFL WR Ed Gant. He only recently started playing defensive back.
And it was at wide receiver that he earned his Michigan State offer. Co-offensive coordinator Jim Bollman has long been in contact with Wilkins, updating Samuel on the process throughout. Last week, Samuel traveled to see him practice with his team and run routes afterward.
Several days later, Bollman called Wilkins to let him know the coaches had been watching his film and liked what they saw. Look forward to getting a call from us soon, Wilkins said he was told. And sure enough, the offer came Wednesday.
— J₩J4⃣ (@joewilkinsjrrr) May 24, 2017
“It was huge,” Wilkins said. “I’m really excited about it. They’re in the Big Ten. I know it’s far from home, but it’s a big school, and I’m definitely going to be looking into them.”
A visit won’t likely come soon, though. Wilkins plans to take unofficial visits to schools he can more easily reach. For the ones that require more travel, he intends to wait until fall and use his official visits.
Because of that, a decision will have to wait. Wilkins won’t be in any rush to trim down his list or make a commitment, he said.
“Before I really rank my top 10 or top five or decide on committing, I’m going to want to take my visit to that school,” he said. “If I’m going to be spending the next three to four years of my life someplace, I want to make sure that I love it there.”
At this point, N.C. State, Iowa State and Maryland are among the schools that have shown the most interest. Notre Dame jumped into the mix with an offer, and now the Spartans have thrown in their hat, as well. Wilkins may be unrated and unranked in the 247Sports composite, but 20 schools have now identified his talent and offered.
“I’m a good route runner, I’ve got sure hands and I can get off the jam,” he explained. “I know little techniques at wide receiver that I feel make me an elite wide receiver.”
Now the choice is his, even if it won’t be coming particularly soon. Education will be paramount. Wilkins wants to go into medicine, inspired by his grandfather, a chiropractor.
But he also needs the coaches to feel about him the way he feels about the school. That’s something Gant impressed on him.
“He definitely told me I need to go where I’m wanted the most,” Wilkins said of Gant. “And my mom always told me I need to go where I’m going to get the best education, so that’s what I’m looking for in a school.”
Michigan State offers four Georgia teammates …
Buford (Ga.) High is a powerhouse. Coming off a second straight 13-2 season, the Wolves are loaded with top talent. The Spartans had already offered two of their running backs, Michigan commit Christian Turner and 3-star junior Anthony Grant, before Wednesday.
And then the Spartans sent two coaches down to see Buford practice, leading to an offer for a third. Sophomore RB Derrian Brown, who already holds offers from such schools as Florida and Oregon, picked it up.
All three hold offers from Florida, Mississippi State and Oregon. Simonds has put together quite a list of his own, with Michigan and Texas A&M also included.
In short, Michigan State wants a piece of Buford’s dominant run game. And if it can get more than one, even better.
… and another Georgia trio, as well
Why stop there? Michigan State has offered far more players in the Peach State’s 2018 class than it has in-state, and Georgia apparently remains on the Spartans’ mind.
They also checked in on Loganville Grayson High and extended offers to three sophomore talents. CB Jalen Alexander added Michigan State to a list with such names as Louisville and Oklahoma, while Kevin Harris, the No. 9 outside linebacker in 2019 per 247Sports, also reeled in an MSU offer to join one from Michigan.
The Spartans have also decided to take their chances with Tru Thompson, a Florida State defensive tackle commit. Thompson has been reeling in offers galore since pledging to the Seminoles in March.
With seven offers extended to sophomores in Georgia on Wednesday, Michigan State showed its commitment to recruiting the state. It’s not a single-cycle trend. The Spartans are there to stay.