The Detroit News continues its countdown of the top 15 Blue Chip recruits for 2017 with Hunter Rison of Ann Arbor Skyline at No. 12.
Hunter Rison is following his father’s footsteps at Michigan State, trying to give fans the same type of thrills Andre Rison gave them a generation ago as a member of the 1988 Rose Bowl championship Spartans team.
Rison, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound four-star receiver, has enrolled early so he could showcase his talent this spring to compete for playing time.
Rison played his final two years of high school ball at Ann Arbor Skyline, moving in with his father after starting his prep career at Basha High in Chandler, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix. He improved his grades — from 2.5 to 3.3 GPA — while taking his game to the next level as well.
Rison earned a spot on The News Division 1-2 All-State First Team this past fall and is No. 12 on The News Blue Chip list.
Rison picked Michigan State over Alabama and Oklahoma.
“My dad allowed me to do it,” said Rison of his recruiting journey. “He’s been through it himself, the No. 1 player in the country and things like that. He said, ‘I’ve been through it and I want you to experience it for yourself.’ He let me decide by myself, take my own visits. I feel he knew I’d eventually come back to Michigan State because he knew it was the right fit for me, but he didn’t pressure me at all.
“Really, a lot of things went into it. It was the place I was most comfortable. I knew I could come early. My dad played here and can watch me since it’s close to home. I’ve always been tight with the guys, and hopefully I can get early playing time too. I’m learning the playbook. I’m getting physically prepared, mentally prepared. I’m getting extra work in with Donnie (Corley) and Trishton (Jackson) and we’re trying to bring this Michigan State football team back to where it needs to be.”
Rison had 35 receptions for 645 yards and nine touchdowns his senior year, averaging nearly 20 yards a catch. His highlight was playing in the Saline game, a 24-21 loss when he had TD receptions of 33 and 20 yards, the final one coming on a fourth-down play late in the third to pull Skyline within 21-14.
“Definitely that Saline game stood out,” said Rison, who has sub-4.5 speed. “We played them really tight and ended up losing by three points, on a last-second field goal. "We really came together in that game, showed that we were a brotherhood so that game will always live in my head for sure.
“I scored two TDs in that game, made a one-handed catch on two people in the end zone. It was definitely an exciting game.”
Rison worked on his speed heading into his senior year. He hopes to run a 4.4 40 at MSU.
“I feel I really improved on my speed,” Rison said. “I ran track. I worked on being a sound, technical player and that’s what my dad tells me. He said everybody’s going to be fast and strong in college, but technique sets you apart, that’s what’s going to get you open. I worked on my speed so no one can catch me.”
So, was Rison ever close to picking Alabama?
“I definitely considered Alabama, that was my other top school,” pointed out Rison. “Nick Saban recruited my dad when he was at Michigan State (as defensive coordinator under George Perles). I’m really tight with Saban and Bobby Williams there so they were definitely contenders, but Michigan State was the winner.”
And, where was Michigan on his list?
"They didn’t even show interest in me," Rison said. "They didn’t call once and I live five minutes from the stadium. They didn’t call once, so I’m going to try and make them pay for that.”
Rison plans to be a sports journalist.
“I wouldn’t mind being on the TV, but something in sports and I love writing," said Rison, who is majoring in journalism. "I also enjoy history and to be a journalist you have to know your history because if you expect to broadcast and talk about something you have to know what’s before that, you have to know the previous records and the people that had been in the game.”
Yes, Rison will be on TV during fall Saturdays while playing for the Spartans and broadcasters will be talking about MSU history and how his father, Andre Rison once had a 55-yard reception to set up a TD and a 36-yard catch leading up to the winning field goal in a 20-17 Rose Bowl win over USC.
And, it’s that type of history that makes Hunter Rison work hard every day to make sure he’ll get on the field for the Spartans and make some history of his own.
DETROIT NEWS BLUE CHIP LIST COUNTDOWN
No. 12: Hunter Rison, WR, Ann Arbor Skyline (Michigan State)