September 27, 2013 at 1:00 am

Allen Trieu

Michigan State coaches check in on top targets, including 4-star Nyles Morgan

Nyles Morgan is rated the No. 4 middle linebacker in the nation by Scout.com. (Photo courtesy of Allen Trieu)

With no game this weekend, Michigan State’s coaching staff was able to use this week to hit the road and get out on the recruiting trail. A number of top Spartan targets from seniors all the way down to freshmen were visited in their schools.

Defensive line coach Ron Burton was busy in one of his primary recruiting areas -- the south side of Chicago. One of the nation’s top linebacker prospects, Crete-Monee’s Nyles Morgan, was one of his stops. Morgan has offers from around the country and plans to visit the Spartans for their Nov. 2 home tilt with Michigan. That same day he will be joined by Harvey Thornton wide receiver Jauan Wesley, who also received a visit from Burton. Wesley has been committed to Iowa State since this summer, but according to his 7 on 7 coach, Paul Szcesney of Core 6 Athletes, he will give the Spartans a second look.

One major prospect who reportedly will be in town for the Michigan game as well is Sun Prairie (Wis.) defensive tackle Craig Evans. A Wisconsin commit, Evans camped at Michigan State and had many positive things to say about that experience in June. He also took an official visit to Arkansas this month, but reiterated his commitment to the Badgers after returning home.

Quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator Brad Salem was also in Illinois at Notre Dame Prep in Niles, dropping in on speedy running back Chris James. James is down to MSU, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin, and after a weekend visit to Madison, many feel the Badgers may be the team to beat. The Spartans have been recruiting James for quite some time now, and he visited in June along with several committed prospects.

In-state, the Spartans stopped at Northville High for junior offensive lineman David Moorman, junior tight end Ryan Roberts and others. They also dropped in at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, where committed cornerback Jalen Watts-Jackson plays along with junior cornerback Tyson Smith, who has an offer, and class of 2017 linebacker Josh Ross.

Ohio punter commits to MSU

Whitehouse (Ohio) Anthony Wayne senior punter Jake Hartbarger committed to Michigan State on Wednesday night, choosing the Spartans over offers from Oklahoma, Iowa State and Toledo. An Under Armour All-American, the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Hartbarger is noted for his big leg.

“The ball booms off his foot with excellent hang-time,” Scout.com Ohio analyst Dave Berk said. “He could also be used for long field goals and kickoff duty.”

Hartbarger is ranked the No. 2 punting prospect in the nation by Jamie Kohl of Kohl’s Kicking Camps.

Spartan commit in All-American game

Hinsdale (Ill.) Central center and Michigan State verbal commit Brian Allen will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January. The game will take place in San Antonio at the Alamodome on Jan. 4 and will be televised by NBC. Past Michigan State players selected to that game include Edwin Baker, David Barrent and Joe Boisture.

More information

Nyles Morgan profile

Jake Hartbarger profile

Brian Allen profile

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.