On the banks of the Red Cedar, recruiting never stops. We’re here every step of the way to keep you moving along with it through our daily notebook. Any recruiting questions? Comment below or direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to get them answered.
Where does Lee Payton stand with Michigan State? He doesn’t know for sure.
MSU has long shown interest in the 3-star River Rouge (Mich.) tight end but hasn’t offered yet. And after the Spartans landed a commitment from 4-star Pickerington (Ohio) Central TE Trenton Gillison, it’s unclear what route they’ll choose.
“I’ll have to ask,” Payton said. “I just recently found out about him.”
Michigan State will be selective in its 2018 class, which will likely be much smaller than the 23-player group signed on Feb. 1. And if the Spartans want to re-establish a strong in-state presence in the midst of Michigan’s recent dominance, the No. 1 tight end in the state seems a good place to start.
And the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Payton might not even end up at that spot when he gets to college.
“It’s based off my height,” he said. “I might end up playing receiver in college, but if I grow more, I’ll end up playing tight end. In some systems that are recruiting me now, they run spread, so their tight end is basically a flex.”
The five programs that have offered Payton — Florida, Syracuse, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan and Toledo — continue to pursue him aggressively. His relationship with Michigan State remains strong as well.
Director of college advancement and performance Curtis Blackwell and wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel have been in the most contact. Blackwell invited Payton up for yet another visit on Jan. 24, when he watched Spartans basketball for the first time in person against Purdue.
“The atmosphere of the game was pretty much just like how the football games are, just a little smaller,” he laughed.
Blackwell led the tours that day, and Payton didn’t see any coaches while on campus. But he already knows why Michigan State has shown interest.
“Academics and the skill set that I have,” he said. “I can do everything that the tight end needs to do: block, run routes, catch the ball and get open in space.”
Payton said he has a 3.7 grade-point average and has been taking classes in high school to prepare for a mechanical engineering major. So whichever program wants him for football should have no problem getting him admitted.
He’ll soon find out how much Michigan State wants to be that school.
Spartans extend more Georgia offers
The state of Georgia looks to be more of a priority for Michigan State in the coming years.
From 2013-16, the Spartans landed just one commitment from the state: running back Nick Tompkins in 2012. Then, in the 2017 class, they reeled in do-it-all athlete Connor Heyward and cornerback Tre Person over the course of a month.
The state has remained a priority. In January alone, Michigan State offered 4-star Stockbridge DE Brenton Cox, 3-star Dutchdown DB Trey Dean, 3-star Macon County OL Christian Meadows and 3-star Hapeville Charter DB Chris Smith — all from Georgia.
Add two more to the list in February. The first player offered Tuesday was 3-star Lassiter (Marietta, Ga.) defensive back Christian Jackson.
Extremely thankful and blessed to receive an offer from Michigan State ??? pic.twitter.com/4JW55098QY
— JAX II (@chris_jack24) February 8, 2017
Jackson has also reported Power 5 offers from Michigan, N.C. State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia. He ranks as the No. 62 cornerback in the 247Sports composite.
Additionally, 3-star Stockbridge (Ga.) athlete Marquez Ezzard announced an offer from the Spartans. A teammate of the aforementioned Cox as well as 2017 target Yusuf Corker (who eventually signed with Kentucky), Ezzard has long been on Michigan State’s radar.
Blessed to receive an offer from Michigan State University pic.twitter.com/PIjnYc8UFQ
— Marquez Ezzard (@Solid_Quez) February 8, 2017
In 2017 alone, the junior has announced offers from Alabama, Central Florida, Georgia, Miami, Ohio State and Oregon as well as the Spartans. He has been ranked as the No. 60 athlete in the nation.
Growing weekend visitor list
Now that we’re past National Signing Day, it’s the season for getting young in-state players on campus to build relationships. Blackwell has been all over that task lately.
First, a large group came in for the Michigan State’s basketball game against Purdue on Jan. 24. Then many of the same dropped in for the Spartans’ junior day event on Jan. 29.
MSU basketball will host Iowa on Saturday, and it looks like a prime opportunity to get more in-state prospects in. Here’s an abridged version of the list with several key names. They all belong to the 2018 class except the last, Keegan Vaughan.
- Rockford offensive tackle Cody Carone: He visited several times during football season and has built a strong relationship with the staff.
- Muskegon athlete Ladarius Jefferson: He already holds offers from Air Force and Ball State.
- Davison running back Tariq Reid: Though he does not yet hold any offers, he has interest that spreads far outside the state. It’s only a matter of time.
- Rockford defensive back Marcus Remtema: A teammate of Carone, he has MAC interest and has visited MSU a plethora of times.
- 2019 John Glenn offensive tackle Keegan Vaughan: An imposing figure at 6-foot-7, he doesn’t have any offers but looks to be headed toward some soon.