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.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio fielded question after question about the 1966 Notre Dame vs. MSU game in his press conference.
Then he passed the microphone to his captains, who did the same, despite being born nearly 30 years after the 10-10 tie took place. Then Dantonio went on his weekly Big Ten teleconference to do it all over again.
“I have talked to quite a few of those guys that have played in that game,” he said, noting star running back Clinton Jones, receiver Gene Washington, lineman Hank Bullough (father of current Spartans Riley and Byron) and fullback Bob Apisa.
Apisa, a Polynesian Football Hall of Fame finalist in the 2017 class, isn’t the only member of his family who’s been in contact with the Michigan State staff. His grandson, Jacob Isaia, plays on the offensive line for the nation’s No. 1 high school team, Bishop Gorman in Nevada.
Isaia grew up in Hawaii in a family largely split between Michigan and Michigan State alumni. On his first visit to Spartan Stadium, Isaia saw Keith Nichol haul in a Hail Mary pass to beat Wisconsin in 2011. A few years later, as a high school freshman, his grandfather introduced him to the Michigan State staff.
Since Isaia moved to Las Vegas in January for his stepfather’s work, things have gotten more serious. Coaches could first contact him and other 2018 recruits on Sept. 1. He soon started hearing from Spartans offensive line coach Mark Staten. Colorado, Florida State, Michigan, Nebraska, UCLA, USC, Washington and Washington State have also shown interest. BYU has offered.
“There’s so many,” Isaia said of the schools contacting him. “It doesn’t really matter if they’re D-1, D-2 or D-3. I’m interested in any school right now. I don’t really have a preference location-wise. I could play West, Midwest, East. I really want to have that connection with the players and just get a really good education from that school.”
A Michigan State offer will likely take some time. Isaia and the Spartans coaches haven’t discussed where they see him playing along the line, or whether they would want him on offense or defense. They’re waiting for him to develop. Now is about getting to know each other.
“Commitment goes both ways”
Until pen goes to National Letter of Intent paper, pretty much everything in recruiting is symbolic. Players can back out of commitments, and coaches can back out of offers. Unfortunately, the coaches generally aren’t held as accountable as the recruits.
So, when coaches hold true to their unwritten obligations, it’s nice to see. Three-star linebacker Darien Clemons was on the receiving end of such a gesture. After the Michigan State commit from Piqua, Ohio, tore his ACL early in his senior season, he received a card with well wishes from the MSU coaches.
Hopefully it wasn’t the first thought in the minds of the staff, but a move like this can do wonders in recruiting. A recruit wants to know that his coaches will be there, and that they’ll be there for him. That’s likely what undecided players will take from this.
And Michigan State will be hoping the message resonates with its first commit in the class of 2018, 4-star athlete Xavier Henderson. The Pickerington Central (Ohio) junior lives not too far from Clemons. Less than a week after Henderson chose MSU, 247Sports reports he’s been offered by Wisconsin.
Given how early Henderson announced his decision, there may be more offers on the way. But it’s heartening for the Spartans that Henderson has yet to acknowledge publicly the Wisconsin offer; it shows how steadfast he is in his commitment to MSU.
That wasn’t all from Wisconsin, either. Spartans target and 3-star defensive back Christian Cumber announced an offer from the Badgers on Wednesday.
Incredibly thankful to have received an offer from the University Of Wisconsin. All Glory to God?? pic.twitter.com/IifgBlXRvz
— Christian Cumber (@theblackqcumber) September 14, 2016
Izzo on the go
The Michigan State basketball staff’s travels took it to California on Tuesday, where it visited 5-star forward Brandon McCoy of Cathedral Catholic. Assistant coaches Dane Fife and Mike Garland accompanied Coach Tom Izzo on the trip.
Had a good meeting with coach izzo today pic.twitter.com/h4Hu0ZXfKH
— Brandon McCoy (@McCoy_blvd) September 14, 2016
The 6-foot-10 prospect earned All-EYBL Third Team honors on the Nike circuit with California Supreme this spring and summer, averaging 17.7 points and 9.2 rebounds. His 247Sports profile lists Cal, Oregon and San Diego State in the hunt for a commitment as well.
The staff also stopped in Napa to see 5-star guard Gary Trent Jr. after his recent transfer to Prolific Prep, a school with no physical address. Trent, the son of former NBA player Gary Trent, is ranked 11th in the 2017 class.
— GARY TRENT JR ?⁶ (@THAT_KID_GARY) September 14, 2016
It’s not hard to see why, as he averaged 22.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 16 games on the Nike circuit. He cut his list to Michigan State, Arizona, Duke, Kentucky and UCLA in August.
And finally, 5-star forward Jaren Jackson Jr., a La Lumiere (Ind.) teammate of fellow 5-star Michigan State target Brian Bowen, shared that he would announce his college decision on Thursday, his birthday. He will decide between Georgetown, Maryland, Notre Dame, Purdue and Michigan State.
Thank you to all of the schools that have recruited me. I'll be sharing my decision tomorrow on my birthday. ??…?? pic.twitter.com/R1KtrXnX8h
— Jaren Jackson Jr. (@therealjnari_) September 14, 2016
The 247Sports Crystal Ball suggests Jackson is likely to choose either Maryland or Purdue.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.