East Lansing — It’s the nature of football recruiting — a new quarterback usually comes with every class.
And with that, comes great expectations, the attributes of a potential leader expounded upon by coaches and pundits as many believe that player could be the next star in the making.
That’s certainly the case for Michigan State and Theo Day, the Dearborn Divine Child standout who signed his letter of intent on Wednesday and intends to enroll in January with plans to get a jump on his Spartans career.
The four-star, pro-style quarterback has all the tools, but the Spartans feel like they took the time during the recruiting process to go deeper than how hard he throws the ball.
“He’s a very natural passer and mechanically, he’s really developed through the last two years, you’ve seen him physically and stature-wise get stronger and more athletic,” quarterbacks coach Brad Salem said. “We really liked him, and as most quarterbacks we try to get them to camp before their junior year or maybe watch them in that sophomore spring to evaluate them through the recruiting process and then if you can them to camp and work with them.
“Recruiting a quarterback nowadays is tough because you gotta know who they are. The guy can throw a football but what is he like as a person? Is he coachable? Does he understand concepts? So, the more you can be around him and get him to camp and do those things, we were fortunate to do those things with Theo.”
It’s critical for quarterbacks to have something extra, and the Spartans believe Day has it.
“I think he's an outstanding leader,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “Very calm. Very calm on the practice field when we had him in camp. Dynamic in our camps. When we watched him play in person, just as dynamic.”
Day’s got the skill and the production, too. The No. 10 player on the Detroit News Blue Chip list, Day led Divine Child to the Division 3 regional finals as a senior and threw for 1,622 yards and 16 touchdowns while running for 878 yards and 13 touchdowns.
While Day was rated the No. 15 pro-style quarterback in the nation by 247sports.com, he has that ability to make plays with his feet, a lot like current Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke.
“He can throw the ball very effectively,” Dantonio said. “Big arm, big talent. Not afraid to run with it. I think really compares favorably with Brian Lewerke in a lot of ways.
“When you look at his highlight film, it's just play after play of him putting the ball down the field. The intermediate throws on target with a lot of velocity on it. The ability to run with the football when needed reminds me a lot of what Lewerke has done this year.”
The question with every quarterback recruit is where does he fit in?
Lewerke is just finishing his sophomore season and figures to lock down the starting spot the next two seasons, as well. Waiting in the wings are redshirt freshman Messiah deWeaver and freshman Rocky Lombardi, two four-stars in their own right.
But Dantonio has shown throughout his tenure at Michigan State that the best player will play, regardless of class or recruiting rankings.
Scout.com analyst Allen Trieu believes Day can be the next quarterback for the Spartans.
“Theo Day has a chance to be really, really good,” Trieu said. “I think Spartan fans should be excited about him and he’s got everything you need to one day be the guy under center in East Lansing.”
Getting in early will help, though it guarantees nothing considering the current quarterbacks have many of the same accolades and four-star Dwan Mathis of Oak Park is committed to the 2019 class.
But the Spartans believe Day is up for the battle.
“Outstanding talent, an opportunity to come early in the process gives him a little bit of an advantage in terms of trying to get on the ground and build a foundation from a quarterback standpoint,” Dantonio said. “He’s been on campus a lot in the past nine months, been on campus quite often. He's a guy that I think knows what he's getting involved in.”