Martell Pettaway rushed for 1,383 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. (Photo courtesy of Allen Trieu)
Receiving a first offer is always a special moment for any high school player, but to get one as a sophomore, from an in-state school, a Big Ten school and the conference champion, that is a bit more rare. That is why Wednesday was a day to remember for South Lake High School’s Martell Pettaway, a 5-foot-10, 205-pound running back, who picked up a Michigan State offer.
“It's a great experience and blessing to have my first offer be from the defending Rose Bowl champs,” he said. “I talked to Coach Dantonio. He was telling me about what Michigan State was looking for in players and expectations about being in college. And the truth was, he didn't know me real well but wanted to build a relationship. He's seen my film and saw I was really talented and I have a good family and am very driven about education.”
Cavaliers head coach Nick Maroggy knew from the first day he saw Pettaway in practice he had a major college prospect, and that it was only a matter of time before the offers would come. Pettaway backed up that belief last season when he rushed for 1,383 yards and 14 touchdowns.
“I think that what makes him that type of back, number one, is his size,” Maroggy says. “He’s not the tallest obviously, but he looks like he’s 20 years old with his body stature. You get to know him and be around him more and see the time he puts in before and after practice, running two miles, doing jump rope and all that. On the field, I think it’s his vision. I haven’t seen too many backs quite like him with size, speed and vision.”
Outside of football, anyone would be hard pressed to find someone in the school with anything negative to say about Pettaway. Maroggy says he is a high-character kid and one who will not allow this recruiting attention to change him.
“He doesn’t make himself the center of attention or make himself known,” Maroggy said. “He’s humble and a reserved kid in a good way. He keeps his nose clean, doesn't hang out with people who might influence him negatively. He will shake your hand, he’s respectful, and while everyone knows who he is, he’s handled it very well.”
Pettaway played with Michigan State commit Kyonta Stallworth last season. While Stallworth has now transferred, the two keep in close contact. Pettaway said Stallworth offered him his congratulations following the offer, but they have not had a chance to speak in detail about it yet. The chances remain high, however, that they will be teammates again as he told Scout on Wednesday that the Spartans were his number one.
“They were ones with the most interest,” Maroggy explains. “I think that means a lot to him, and just to be closer to home -- mom and dad really wanted him to be closer to home. They have been a first-class program and he has always looked up to that.”
Pettaway plans to camp at Michigan State and Michigan. He says he will not be making a commitment in the near future.
Two more sophomores offered
Michigan State offered class of 2016 Nacogdoches (Texas) safety Brandon Jones on Wednesday. According to Scout.com Midlands analyst Gabe Brooks, Jones has an opportunity to be a top-10, possibly top-five prospect in his class in the Lone Star State. A fast, physical prospect, Jones has additional offers from Florida State, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Nebraska and others. He is currently a four-star prospect on Scout.
Another sophomore who added a Michigan State offer this week is Philadelphia Imhotep’s Naseir Upshur. Upshur, a 6-foot-3, 227-pound tight end, now has over 10 offers with Illinois, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati and others currently on his list. He reported prior to the Spartan offer that he hoped to earn a scholarship from the Spartans.
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.