Southfield — Lineman Malik McDowell ended the speculation and went against his mother's wishes Wednesday by announcing he would play football for Michigan State.
McDowell, one of the top recruits left on the board entering National Signing Day, turned down an opportunity to play at Michigan with his teammate at Southfield, defensive end Lawrence Marshall, and selected the Rose Bowl champion Spartans.
McDowell’s announcement is a coup for Michigan State, which beat out Michigan, Ohio State and Florida State for one of the state’s best players. At 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds, McDowell, rated No. 3 on The Detroit News Blue Chip list, has tremendous potential. He played on defense exclusively this season but was a two-way linemen in his three previous seasons at Detroit Loyola.
However, as of Wednesday evening, McDowell still had not faxed his letter-of-intent to Michigan State.
McDowell and his father, Greg McDowell, attended an event for recruits at the Hype Recreation Center in Dearborn Heights. While Malik didn’t elaborate on his delayed letter-of-intent, Greg said Malik’s mother, Joya Crowe, was holding up the process.
“I’m not legally able to do it because I’m not the custodial parent,” Greg told The Detroit News, noting that Malik is only 17. “She has to sign it and I have to sign it, too. I don’t know when it will happen. Malik has to handle that with his Mom. I’m willing to do whatever my son wants. It’s been a long process and an uneasy process.
“That’s something he’ll have to deal with, because at the end of the day it’s all about him and he has to work it out.”
McDowell wasn’t looking to participate in any long interviews at the event at Hype.
When asked if he had signed the letter, McDowell replied: “No.”
How come? “Just didn’t.”
Do you plan on signing it later Wednesday night? “I don’t know.”
Do you still plan on going to Michigan State? “Yes.”
Was Michigan State always your first choice? “No.”
When did you decide and why Michigan State? “Last two or three weeks. There was no major reason.”
McDowell’s high school teammate, Carterris Carter, who is headed to Wayne State, also was honored at the Hype Recreation Center event. He said McDowell wants to play for the Spartans.
“He didn’t send it (the letter), but he did commit,” said Carter. “He’s waiting for his Mom to jump on board.”
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said Wednesday the Spartans still were waiting on the paperwork for “a couple of guys.” While Dantonio couldn’t comment specifically on a player who hasn’t signed, it was clear he was referring to McDowell.
Michigan State also had not received a letter-of-intent from David Hedelin, a 6-5, 285-pound offensive tackle from the City College of San Francisco.
When asked if he expected those players to eventually sign, Dantonio sounded optimistic.
“Yeah I do, I do expect that,” he said. “But I think recruiting should be about a celebration for everyone involved and everybody needs to feel comfortable throughout the process.”
Dantonio did call the defensive line class “dominant” and said the defensive end position was one of need, pointing out that Robert Bowers and Montez Sweat were “right now, the two guys we have.”
Crowe, the mother, did not attend Wednesday morning’s news conference at Southfield High. Greg McDowell said Crowe wanted their son to choose U-M, Ohio State or Florida State.
“It was the coaches,” Malik said during the press conference in explaining his decision to play for Michigan State. “It just feels right there. (The decision) was tough. I watched the Rose Bowl. It was great. I have some friends up there. Jamal Lyles (Southfield-Lathrup graduate) plays there. He and I had a good talk about MSU about a month ago. He talked about family. That’s what I want. Coach (Mark) Dantonio is all about family.”
Crowe has defended her opinions, some negative, about Michigan State on local radio and social media.
Greg McDowell was relieved, as was his son, that the recruiting process is over.
In the end, he said, he wants what’s best for his son.
“The ignorance that social media can bring doesn’t bother me,” Greg said earlier Wednesday. “(Malik’s decision) wasn’t about what I wanted. I visited Michigan State. It was great. From what I see they’re building a powerhouse. They can push and push and push him. They see what he can offer.
“I wanted him to go to either Florida State or Ohio State. With Florida State distance was a factor, but Malik really didn’t want to go there. So that was that. He was really big on MSU. The social aspect is what I’m concerned with. I want him to be a leader, not a follower. I liked everything about Ohio State. Plus I wanted to see him get away.
“It’s what he wants, and I’ll support that. I just want to see him walk down that aisle and get his degree”
Initially, McDowell had Alabama and Florida among his finalists, along with the other four schools. Notre Dame also made a late push for McDowell, and Conley said coaches from Notre Dame met with McDowell and his parents.
“It really was stressful,” McDowell said. “I called Coach Dantonio this morning. They’re all happy.”