Chris Durkin is a four-star quarterback prospect from Youngstown (Ohio) Ursuline. (Photo courtesy of Scott Reed)
Michigan State added a major piece to its 2014 recruiting class on Thursday evening when Youngstown (Ohio) Ursuline quarterback Chris Durkin, a four-star prospect, chose the Spartans over offers from Northwestern, Illinois and others.
At 6-4 and 220 pounds, he has excellent size, but is also mobile and capable of making plays with his feet. While MSU has not had a mobile quarterback the last couple of years, that added dimension to Durkin's game is a big part of why he earned an offer.
"Coach (Dave) Warner told me he wants to mix in a lot more quarterback run and I fit that perfectly," Durkin said. "The zone read and quarterback ISO, he wants to start tying a lot more of that and thinks I'm great for it."
Warner was part of Durkin's recruitment, but so was defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, an Ursuline alum who told Durkin he loves to come back home to find players. The relationship started last year and blossomed when he made it up to campus last year for a big game at Spartan Stadium. The memory of that visit lasted throughout his recruitment and was part of what ultimately lead to his commitment.
"I was up there for the Ohio State game last year," Durkin said. "That was a great experience. The gameday atmosphere, the crowd, and how loud it was, was awesome."
Durkin is currently ranked as the No. 12 quarterback in the country by Scout.com.
The state of Illinois is experiencing a spike in the amount of schools coming to recruit there, which happens to coincide with an outstanding group of prospects in the class of 2014. While much of that concentration has been on the Chicagoland area, the southwestern corner of the state can't be ignored, and it has not been by Michigan State.
O'Fallon High School has been a target for the Green and White, and on Monday they became the first school to offer fast, physical 5-9, 175-pound safety Micquell Cotton, who has drawn comparisons to Bob Sanders. His teammate, four-star defensive end Dewayne Hendrix, has had a Spartan offer for months, and the two are planning to see the school together.
"I spoke with the head coach (Mark Dantonio)," Cotton said Tuesday. "He was just telling me he wanted to offer me a scholarship and wanted to get me down on a visit. Actually, me and our defensive end, Dewayne Hendrix, who's also being recruited by them, are taking a visit down there sometime in spring to check out the campus."
Hendrix is 6-5 and 230 pounds, and has drawn offers from Tennessee, Mississippi, Illinois, Florida, Nebraska, Iowa and others. He was one of Scout.com's top performers at the U.S. Army Combine in January, and the scary part is, his best days are still ahead of him.
"He has great speed and is tremendously athletic and physical," O'Fallon head coach Brandon Joggerst said. "He has a huge wingspan and will get bigger. He is great in the weight room."
Last year, the Spartans offered Panther cornerback Darius Mosely, who ended up signing with Illinois. They're hoping this time around will be a different story as they look to add Hendrix and Cotton.
Michigan State has hosted and will continue to host visitors for spring practice who have offers and are top targets. On Tuesday, St. Charles North (Ill.) offensive tackle Chase Gianacakos made his way back to campus. The 6-6, 280-pound prospect had been to basketball games before, but this trip allowed him to see the football team in action. He also got to see his potential offensive line coach Mark Staten work.
"He demands a lot of his guys," Gianacakos explained, "but gives a lot. I truly appreciate that he is a teacher in the offensive line room."
Fellow Illinois-based prospect Chris Slayton is due to follow Gianacakos' lead and visit East Lansing over his spring break. A 6-5, 230-pound defensive end from Crete-Monee High School, he only recently began adding offers, but has gone from none to five in a matter of weeks. The Spartans were his second offer, and he told Scout's Beth Long that the staff has been sending him a lot of mail and showing heavy interest.
New offers in Ohio
Cincinnati Moeller has been kind to MSU over the years, with Greg Jones, Shane Jones, Marcus Rush as some of the notables to head from the Queen City up to East Lansing. Recently, an offer was extended to Moeller junior linebacker Sam Hubbard, who, at 6-6 and 215 pounds, was athletic enough to play safety last year and earn a lacrosse scholarship to Notre Dame. With big-time schools now offering in football, he says he will likely go with the gridiron as his college sport. Along with Michigan State, he has earned offers from Stanford, Ohio State, Michigan and Miami (Fla.) recently.
Minster (Ohio) High tight end Ethan Wolf picked up a Spartan offer while in East Lansing last Friday. The 6-6, 230-pound Wolf had an opportunity to watch practice and says he came away impressed with how MSU uses tight ends, and that there are often two on the field. The Scout.com four-star has accumulated quite the offer list with Kentucky, Louisville, Tennessee, Arkansas, Nebraska and 14 others, but the Spartans put themselves in the hunt with last week's offer and visit.
Chris Durkin profile: http://bit.ly/14s17MB
Micquell Cotton profile: http://bit.ly/10inM7r
Dewayne Hendrix profile: http://bit.ly/16ldqJ4
Ethan Wolf profile: http://bit.ly/16ldrwy
Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan State recruiting column appears every Friday at detroitnews.com. For more on MSU recruiting, visit michiganstate.scout.com.