Talented defensive linemen Malik McDowell (pictured) of Southfield, Daniel Cage and Craig Evans were among the visitors at MSU last weekend. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
The full impact of Michigan State’s Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl-winning season might not fully be felt until next year’s recruiting class, since a good portion of the 2014 class had been completed by the time the Spartans lifted the trophies in Indianapolis and Pasadena. But their success should allow them to close their 2014 recruiting with a bang.
The Spartans were able to treat a talented group of prospects to a big-time atmosphere at the Breslin Center on Saturday night, as one of the last groups of official visitors made their way to East Lansing, along with a lineup that included nearly all of the state’s top underclassmen. Among the prospects was a trio of defensive tackles — Daniel Cage and Malik McDowell, along with a surprise visitor, Craig Evans, who had already taken his official visit to MSU but came as an unofficial.
Now, with National Signing Day less than a week away, how many of the three will be in MSU’s class?
“My weekend was great and I had a great time at Michigan State,” Cage said to Scout.com’s Dave Berk. “I got to tour the campus and it’s a huge campus. I went to a basketball game and talked with the academic advisers. I also got to talk with some of the players and hang out with some of them after the game.”
McDowell tweeted that Michigan State was part of his final four along with Michigan, Florida State and Ohio State; he plans to visit the Buckeyes this weekend. With much left to be determined for the state’s top prospect, this week’s in-home visits with his final schools and the trip to Columbus are the final pieces McDowell and his family need to make a decision.
“I think we probably will have a few more in-homes … probably just meeting somewhere like at a restaurant,” his father Greg McDowell said. “After this weekend if we’re going to do this Ohio State (visit), I feel like when we come back from Ohio State he should know where he wants to be. With all of us involved, we’ll sit down as a family and figure out what’s best for him.”
A wild-card in the class may be Chicago De La Salle’s highly-regarded offensive tackle Jamarco Jones. An Ohio State commit, Scout’s Derek Young confirmed with his coaches that Jones plans to visit East Lansing this weekend. Close with many of the Spartan commits, Jones had MSU in his final group before choosing the Buckeyes last June.
Jones, Evans, Cage, McDowell and safety T.J. Harrell appear to be the group of five from which the Spartans’ 2014 class will be completed, barring any surprises. There is little doubt that the way the 2013 team performed on the field has helped the Green and White not just stay on their lists, but get them on campus late in the recruiting season.
Spartans extend several offers
Michigan State has been busy in the last week, offering quite a few members of the 2015 and 2016 classes. Three were offered in New Jersey — highly-regarded St. Peter’s Prep safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, Don Bosco Prep offensive tackle Kevin Feder, and DePaul Catholic sophomore running back Kareem Walker. The Spartans also offered Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga Prep junior teammates Marcus Lewis, a cover-corner, and wide receiver Jabari Greenwood. Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson defensive end Chauncey Bridges also reported an offer from the Green and White.
Within state lines, Jackson Lumen Christi’s Khari Willis was offered on Thursday. A 6-foot, 190-pound two-sport star, Willis is also being recruited by major programs on the basketball court. On the football field, he was a running back last season, but could project to wide receiver or defensive back in college. The Spartans have been in his school several times this year and he visited East Lansing for their win over Michigan in November.
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.