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Wayne Jones III didn’t believe the news at first.
His father let him read the text messages for verification. Michigan State co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett had told Jones Jr. that the Spartans wanted to extend an offer to his son, a 3-star Owasso (Okla.) junior safety.
“I was like, Michigan State?” Jones III told Land of 10. “I just loved that school ever since I saw (current Bengals cornerback Darqueze) Dennard there when he played. It’s like DB U.”
Defensive Back University. Many have staked a claim to that title, but after giving up over 206 passing yards per game in 2016, it might be slipping away from Michigan State. The staff has responded by putting extra emphasis on the secondary in recruiting.
Jones is one of the prospects who impressed in his film enough to earn an offer. His father’s friend has a familial connection to Barnett with enough degrees of separation to make Jones unsure of what the relationship actually is, but close enough for his father’s request to merit a response. Barnett watched Jones’ film.
Barnett liked what he saw, complimented Jones’ physicality and said, according to Jones, that the 6-foot, 190-pound safety is a “pure dawg.” Jones was proud to see his physical play complimented.
“That’s my biggest attribute,” he said. “And I play smart on the field as well. That’s what makes me who I am. I play smart and physical.”
His style of play drew him to the Michigan State secondaries of past seasons under Dantonio, such as the Cotton Bowl-winning 2014 squad that led the Big Ten in passing defense.
“When I saw Dennard, and they came up with the whole ‘No Fly Zone’ (nickname) and how they were the best DBs, I fell in love with it,” Jones said.
— WAYNE JONES III (@wj63196) December 1, 2016
The offer quickly bumped Michigan State up to join Louisville and Oklahoma State on Jones’ impromptu list of favorites. He has visited Oklahoma State and really likes the coaching staff. And while he hasn’t visited Louisville, “Something about them I just like,” he said.
Illinois, Arkansas State, New Mexico and Texas-San Antonio have offered as well.
Jones plans to take his first trip to East Lansing for a Junior Day function when he gets the chance. He can finally believe what happened on Wednesday, but that doesn’t make it any less thrilling.
“Most exciting moment in a while,” he said of the offer. “This has been a dream school for a long time.”
Packed official visitor list coming to East Lansing
It’s the first weekend of the latest recruiting live period, and Michigan State doesn’t have a game to plan for. That means it’s time to get prospects on campus.
On Friday, four 2017 recruits confirmed plans to officially visit Michigan State over the weekend, all coming from the 2017 class. Here they are.
3-star cornerback Yusuf Corker
Corker confirmed his visit plans to Land of 10 right as he landed in Michigan around 2 p.m. ET. The Stockbridge (Ga.) Woodland defensive back named South Carolina his favorite in November and also has Kentucky, Penn State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia and West Virginia in contention. The Spartans have their work cut out for them here.
3-star athlete Connor Heyward
Heyward picked up his Michigan State offer less than a month ago and told Land of 10 about it. He could be a wide receiver, outside linebacker or safety at the next level, three of the Spartans’ top positional priorities. It’s safe to say the Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge athlete is a high priority.
3-star defensive end Kofi Wardlow
Yet another impressive prospect out of St. John’s College (Washington D.C.) High, Wardlow immediately put Michigan State high on his list after picking up an offer. Seen as an outside linebacker by some, he told Land of 10 MSU likes him at defensive end. Maryland will be a tough challenger to overcome for the Spartans to land Wardlow.
2-star defensive end DeAri Todd
Coming out of Lorain (Ohio), Todd does not hold a Michigan State offer. Right now, his list includes Boston College, Air Force, Eastern Kentucky, Texas State and a bevy of MAC schools. Michigan State is clearly very interested if it’s shelling out the money to bring him in for an official visit, so we’ll have to wait and see what’s to come.
2017 class snapshot
Every Friday leading up to National Signing Day, we’ll give you an update on where Michigan State’s 2017 class stands and any changes in the last week.
Where it ranks
Michigan State’s 2017 class is No. 27 in the nation and No. 6 in the Big Ten, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Michigan State certainly hopes to land more top targets, but at the moment, it has three pledges from 4-star recruits.
Kevin Jarvis: 4-star OG (Park Ridge, Ill.)
Matt Dotson: 4-star TE (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Hunter Rison: 4-star WR (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Michigan State has not gained or lost any 2017 prospects since 3-star cornerback Josiah Scott committed in July.
Breakdown by position
Ohio (6): Weston Bridges, Matt Carrick, Darien Clemons Matt Dotson, Dominique Long, Josiah Scott
Michigan (4): Mustafa Khaleefah, Jordan Reid, Hunter Rison, Cody White
Florida (3): Jack Camper, Lashawn Paulino-Bell, Donovan Winter
Illinois (2): Kevin Jarvis, Jacub Panasiuk
Iowa (1): Rocky Lombardi
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.