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Michigan State and Pittsburgh haven’t faced off in a decade, and there’s no regular-season meeting in sight.
The last time they met, in 2007, Mark Dantonio coached the Spartans with Pat Narduzzi as his defensive coordinator. Michigan State won, 17-13, to maintain its undefeated record in six games against the Panthers.
Dantonio still coaches in East Lansing, but Narduzzi has moved on … to Pitt. In two seasons with Narduzzi, the Panthers are 16-10. And while the on-field competition between the schools has been nonexistent, the recruiting battles are heating up.
Both teams landed multiple prospects offered by the other in the 2017 class, with Michigan State scoring a late win with Connor Heyward‘s commitment (both of his parents went to Pitt).
Michigan State got off to a hot start in 2018 by landing four players with Panthers offers: Trenton Gillison, Chris Jackson, Michael Dowell and Jeslord Boateng. Pitt rebounded by landing a commitment from tackle Blake Zubovic days before his scheduled visit to East Lansing.
And the fun has continued into 2019, as well.
Spartans offer Pitt legacy
On Friday, Andrew Kristofic made his weekly call to Michigan State offensive line coach Mark Staten.
The Spartans have shown interest for three months, and the 2019 Pine-Richland (Gibsonia, Pa.) High tackle has made plenty of these calls. But Kristofic and Staten had more to talk about this time.
Kristofic had participated in Michigan State’s offensive/defensive line technique camp on Wednesday, marking his first football-related visit. Staten complimented the 6-foot-6, 250-pound rising junior’s athleticism and physicality, then extended an offer.
“I wasn’t really expecting it,” Kristofic said of the offer, “but camp went really well, so I figured I had a chance. And when Coach Staten gave me the offer, I was pretty excited.”
Kristofic now holds five offers and two from Power 5 schools: Michigan State and Pitt. He has visited both this summer. Let the Dantonio-Narduzzi battle commence.
It would seem Pitt has an edge. Kristofic goes to school 20 miles away from Heinz Field, the Panthers’ home field, and is even closer to campus. His father, Pine-Richland Middle School principal David Kristofic, played offensive and defensive line for the Panthers in the early 1990s.
But Kristofic is in no rush to follow his dad’s lead. He wants to get a sense of what other schools have to offer. He has visited Ohio State, as well, and plans to check out Penn State and Wisconsin.
“My dad played [at Pitt], so that’s a team I’ve definitely grown up being a fan of,” Kristofic said, “but at this point, I’m kind of open to any options, and I like seeing what other schools have to offer, as well.”
— Andrew Kristofic (@AKristofic21) June 16, 2017
His stop at Michigan State left a positive impression. After camp he saw campus, toured the facilities and checked out Spartan Stadium. He and his mother met the coaching staff and some players as well.
“I really liked everything that I had the opportunity to see there,” Kristofic said. “It was cool getting to see everything that they had to offer.”
Reggie Hughes picks Arizona State; Nikko Hall to follow?
Michigan State may not have lost just one target on Monday evening.
Calabasas (Calif.) 3-star prospect and rising senior Reggie Hughes, the No. 25 outside linebacker in the 247Sports composite, committed to Arizona State, shunning offers from Michigan State, Nebraska and several others. His move could open the door for his teammate, fellow Spartans target Nikko Hall, to follow.
— Nikko wit 2 K's (@nikkofor6) June 19, 2017
“I’ll see you soon,” Hall, a 3-star wide receiver, cryptically wrote in response to Hughes’ decision. Talks of a package deal have been going on for months, with Nebraska previously considered a destination. Hall, as you might expect, holds an Arizona State offer.
Should Hall head elsewhere, in-state targets appear to be Michigan State’s best bet at wide receiver. West Bloomfield prospects A.J. Abbott and Taj Mustapha have both been offered by the Spartans.