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Michigan State recruiting operations coordinator Butler Benton got the speculation going with a “#V4MSU” tweet.
— Butler B. (@Butler_Benton) January 17, 2017
“Victory for MSU,” it means, in reference to the Spartans’ fight song. It’s also a way for the staff to hint at a potential commitment.
For a few minutes, speculation grew. Which 2017 target would the Spartans be getting? Would they satisfy their need at receiver with Iowa City (Iowa) West 4-star prospect Oliver Martin or snag an expected commitment from Roswell (Ga.) 2-star defensive lineman Koby Cumberlander?
None of the above. During a busy month for the 2017 class leading up to National Signing Day on Feb. 1, Michigan State got a surprise from 2018 Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar receiver Joseph Scates. The 4-star junior, ranked the No. 25 WR in his class, made it official eight minutes after the Benton tweet.
Extremely blessed to announce that I am Committed ✅ GO GREEN ! pic.twitter.com/vIZ3UFsRQh
— #️⃣6️⃣……? (@ScatesJoseph) January 17, 2017
MSU moved to the top spot on Scates’ list after a Nov. 19 visit for the Spartans’ game against Ohio State. There, he picked up a scholarship offer.
In Scates, the Spartans will be getting a wideout with great size (6-foot-3) and the ability to go up above opposing defense backs for 50/50 balls. They had been looking for an elite talent like his at the position, with Warren Township (Gurnee, Ill.) prospect Micah Jones being another top target.
How other recruits reacted
Ohio State had not yet offered Scates, but just the fact that Michigan State landed the top wide receiver in Ohio was a huge victory.
Add him to a 2018 class that already includes a commitment from 4-star defensive back Xavier Henderson, and the Spartans have begun to build momentum in the state. Other top 2018 recruits from Ohio reacted accordingly.
Three-star Huber Heights Wayne defensive end Alex Reigelsperger sent out a congratulatory tweet. He, like Scates, hails from Dayton.
— Alex Reigelsperger (@a_reigelsperger) January 18, 2017
Reigelsperger said he will visit Michigan State on Jan. 29 and eventually make a decision on May 25. He does not yet hold an offer from the Spartans.
Additionally, 3-star Lakewood safety Michael Dowell congratulated Scates. The brother of Michigan State players Andrew and David Dowell, there’s a very good chance the Spartans end up with Dowell.
Congrats bro! ???????✳️✳️✳️✳️✳️✳️✳️ https://t.co/VsPKpdzWBR
— Michael (@mike_mikeyd123) January 18, 2017
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, 4-star Fairfield defensive end Malik Vann seemed excited about the decision, both as a friend of Scates and someone impressed with what the Spartans are building.
— Malik Vann❕ (@MalikVann7) January 17, 2017
A former teammate of Michigan State early enrollee Josiah Scott, Vann has been high on the Spartans’ board for quite some time.
Then there was a particularly telling tweet from a Florida prospect the Spartans recently offered. Coconut Creek junior cornerback Marquis Williams cryptically said “My turn” just minutes after the commitment.
— Marquis Williams (@Williamsisland2) January 17, 2017
Williams spoke to Land of 10 about his dreams of playing Big Ten football after receiving the offer.
‘Never leave my brothers’
When Scates visited Michigan State in November, his best friend and fellow Dunbar junior Tavion Thomas came along as well.
Shortly after, Scates said he and Thomas would “definitely” be a package deal to whichever school they chose. Asked by Land of 10 about the comment, Thomas offered more detail.
“We’ve got this little thing, like, ‘Never leave my brothers,’” he said. “That’s my brother. When I didn’t have nothing, he was there.”
Does this mean Michigan State will eventually offer? Thomas currently holds offers from Ball State, Central Michigan, Ohio and Toledo. The Spartans remain in contact, but they, like many, seem to prefer that he play linebacker.
Thomas prefers running back, though, and seems pretty adamant about it. There may have to be some level of compromise for this recruitment to continue forward.
Spartans working on 2019
No class is being overlooked. Late Tuesday night, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) sophomore athlete Horace McCoy announced a Michigan State offer.
— Horace Bru McCoy (@buhbuhbru) January 18, 2017
Despite his youth, McCoy already holds a massive offer list including Alabama, Arizona State, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, Tennessee, USC, Virginia Tech and Washington.
He happens to attend the same school as 3-star defensive tackle Austin Faoliu, who told Land of 10 that he had cut his list to Oklahoma and Oregon. Michigan State had offered but will not ultimately get an official visit.