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Three-star Indianapolis Ben Davis High RB Johnny Adams didn’t view his trip to Michigan State last month as a visit — at least not in standard recruiting terms.
Adams, along with 3-star Indianapolis Cathedral OLB Hugh Davis, was part of a 7-on-7 team traveled to East Lansing on Saturday, Jan. 28, as part of a tournament. In the middle of the tournament, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio and his assistants pulled Adams and Davis aside.
“We introduced ourselves and started talking about our high schools, football and if we did any other sports,” Adams said. “Then the coaches congratulated me on my showing at the U.S. Army National Combine.”
In the lead-up to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which features the 100 best high school seniors, younger players also got a chance to shine. Six-hundred underclassmen gathered from Jan. 5-7 to perform at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Adams, the No. 650 prospect in the 2018 class per the 247Sports composite, received an invite. Though the combine results have not yet been released, Adams’ performance caught Michigan State’s attention. His “strength, cutting ability and blocking skills,” he said, make him stand out.
Michigan State running backs coach Dave Warner has shown interest since June, but it appears to be ramped up. Should the Spartans offer, they would join Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Syracuse, Toledo and Western Michigan.
“He hasn’t said anything about an offer, but he’s shown a lot of interest,” Adams said of Warner. “He told me he wants to get up there a lot for spring practice, basketball games, football games and stuff like that.”
Adams hasn’t set any specific dates, but he plans to do so soon. He wants to get to know the coaches better, as he already has a good impression of them.
“I like the coaching staff,” Adams said. “That’s probably one of the main attributes I look for in a college, the relationship with the coaches. Their medical program’s pretty nice, too.”
Pre-med will be the track for Adams in college, if everything goes according to plan. He wants to be an orthopedic surgeon or a chiropractor after his playing career comes to an end.
His work in the classroom will likely give him a lot of options. Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisville, Minnesota, Northwestern and Purdue have shown considerable interest as well.
“I’m looking for if they have my major,” Adams said, “and just a great environment I can fit in well with.”
Elsewhere in running back targets
Michigan State landed one full-fledged running back on National Signing Day: 3-star Akron (Ohio) Copley standout Weston Bridges, who tore his ACL in the last game of his senior season.
Three-star Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge athlete Connor Heyward also signed, and Dantonio said he’ll likely start out his college career at running back. Whether he’ll finish it there probably depends on how much depth the Spartans add.
And they need it. Michigan State didn’t sign a running back in the 2016 class, so the only players standing between next year’s true freshmen and the field are LJ Scott, Madre London and Gerald Holmes.
Michigan State certainly could bring in an unsigned running back, but right now, the focus seems to be on 2018. And one prospect had been standing out as a likely eventual commit: Tavion Thomas.
The 3-star Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar bruiser, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 225 pounds, visited Michigan State on several occasions as an apparent second fiddle to his teammate, 4-star WR Joseph Scates. The Spartans clearly wanted Scates, and he and Thomas had been open about their hopes of being a package deal.
Scates committed to Michigan State on Jan. 18, and Thomas picked up an offer from the Spartans soon after. It looked highly likely that the two best friends would end up in East Lansing.
Then Thomas began to blow up. After Michigan State gave him his second Power Five offer on Jan. 20, it was followed by Iowa State, Kentucky, Purdue and West Virginia.
And on Thursday, a massive offer came along for the No. 30 running back in the nation when Alabama jumped into the race.
— lackofworries?? (@tavionthomas937) February 16, 2017
Michigan State will have to pitch the family atmosphere and chance to play alongside Scates very hard going forward. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to overcome the Crimson Tide.
University of Detroit Jesuit athlete Elijah Collins could also emerge as a top running back target for Michigan State. Offered in January, he projects by many as a linebacker at the next level.
But his coach, Oscar Olejniczak, said Michigan State likes his potential at running back. Like Thomas, he possesses great size at 6-1, 195 pounds.
And like Thomas, he recently picked up a big offer as well. On Thursday, Collins announced a Wisconsin offer, his third from the Big Ten alongside Iowa and Michigan State.
— SEPARATION (@Eli_Collins2) February 16, 2017
2018 QB visiting MSU
As discussed in our notebook Wednesday, Dearborn (Mich.) Divine Child signal-caller Theo Day has emerged as the top target for Michigan State at quarterback.
But don’t count out St. John’s College High (Washington D.C.) junior Kevin Doyle. The No. 12 pro-style QB in the nation, Doyle visited in the fall and considers Michigan State among his favorites.
Per a tweet, Doyle is headed back to town for another visit. He and Day continue to stand out among all other Michigan State quarterback targets.
— Kevin Doyle (@Kevin_Doyle_13) February 16, 2017