MSU coach Mark Dantonio and Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher pose for photos during 'Cass Tech Day.' (Photo special to Detroit News)
During a run in which several Detroit Cass Tech players committed to Michigan a few years back, the program was labeled as a pipeline school to Ann Arbor. Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher and his staff have fought that perception, maintaining they help their athletes make the best decision for them, whether it’s Michigan State or Michigan, or programs like Oregon, Bowling Green and Central Michigan – all schools that have signed Cass Tech players.
Cass is one of the state’s perennial top talent producers, and schools from across the country stop in at Cass to recruit their players. Michigan State created a unique opportunity for the team on Thursday when the Spartans had their inaugural “Cass Tech Day.”
The entire Cass Tech team came to campus for meetings, classes, tours and a practice, giving them a true day in the life of a Spartan player. Among them were highly-recruited juniors Mike Weber and Joshua Alabi, who both hold offers from the Green and White.
“I thought it was a spectacular job by the MSU coaching staff,” Technicians head coach Thomas Wilcher said. “They opened their doors up, the whole staff embraced us, from the position coaches to graduate assistants to professors. We walked through everything. The whole school was opened up to us.”
Weber wrote on Twitter that he “had a good time” and “learned a lot,” while Alabi called the visit “great,” also on Twitter. Wilcher hopes what the kids took out of the visit will make them a better football team in the fall and make all of his players better young men in the long run.
“There were players sitting down talking to our kids one-on-one,” Wilcher said. “It was a great experience and something that we would have to do more and more. It really impacted the guys socially and changed the way they do things. It opens their eyes up so they become better athletes, better students and better people, better men and contributors for society.”
Michigan State signed offensive tackle Dennis Finley from Cass Tech in the 2013 class and Deon Drake signed this past year.
Spartans have advantage with Ohio playmaker
Michigan State recently offered Anthony McKee, an athletic four-star linebacker from Walnut Ridge High School in Columbus. Currently approaching 20 offers, McKee has options from around the country, but the Spartans have a secret weapon.
“He’s stoked about the offer,” Walnut Ridge linebackers coach Nicholas Gussler said. “He's really excited. It’s definitely a school he’s been looking for with Robert Bowers going there. They’re real good friends. Bowers has been working on getting him to come along with him to Michigan State.”
Gussler says McKee has not narrowed down his list yet, but he plans to cut to 10-15 by the end of summer and he expects the Spartans to make the cut. McKee is planning to wait until National Signing Day to make a decision.
If he does sign with MSU, they are going to get a player who always seems to be able to make plays no matter where he is at on the field.
"The first day we had 7-on-7, we put him back at safety and he had an interception,” Gussler said. “We put him at middle linebacker and he had an interception, so we put him at outside linebacker and he had an interception. Wherever we put him on the field, he makes it happen. I've heard he's been doing that since little league.”
Another New Jersey offer
Michigan State continues to be active in New Jersey and extended an offer to Red Bank Catholic defensive end Jamie Gordinier this week, according to Scout.com’s Brian Dohn. A 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior, Gordinier has additional offers from Boston College, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Northwestern and others.
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 weekly at detroitnews.com. For more on MSU recruiting, visit michiganstate.scout.com.