The week leading up to National Signing Day is always prime time for surprises. And just when it looked like Michigan State's recruiting board for the class of 2015 was set, a pair of surprises happened in the form of Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward twins Andrew and David Dowell. They switched their commitments from Kentucky to the Spartans on Wednesday.
They are both four-star prospects and members of the Scout 300. Andrew, 6-foot-2 and 203 pounds, could play safety, linebacker or possibly even running back in East Lansing, and David, 6-1 and 185, is a wide receiver and defensive back.
Both were integral parts of the Eagles' state championship season in 2014. Once committed to Northwestern as a running back (before switching to Kentucky), Andrew was first-team All-Defensive Ohio after recording 153 tackles, six interceptions (three returned for scores) and 11 pass breakups, all in his first season even playing on that side of the ball.
"He blossomed at safety as a senior," Scout Ohio analyst Bill Greene said. "He figures to play safety or linebacker for the Spartans, possibly the next Denicos Allen. As Andrew learns the nuances of playing in (Mark) Dantonio's defense, he could blossom into a special football player. This is one very tough football player, and one with an extremely high football IQ. In short, the perfect player for the Dantonio system."
David, who was also committed to Northwestern, made 64 tackles, intercepted two passes and broke up 18 as a senior. He also caught 33 passes with four touchdowns on offense.
"Although David was always looked at as a top wide receiver prospect, after seeing him shut out highly-regarded Marshon Lattimore (Glenville/Ohio State) early on in his junior season, it became apparent that Dowell had the skills to play man coverage on an island at cornerback," Greene said. "He also excelled on offense as a wideout, making tough catches across the middle and using his length to go up and over defensive backs."
The commitment of the Dowells gives the Spartans two more additions from Ohio, a state that has been an extremely successful recruiting ground for them under Coach Dantonio.
Their verbals also moved the Spartans from 28th to 18th nationally and from fourth to third in Scout's team rankings.
JUCO linebacker comes aboard
Saddleback (Calif.) College's Drake Martinez committed to Michigan State this week. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound prospect, who is likely to play the STAR linebacker position in college, was heavily recruited by the Spartans, but committed to Nebraska out of high school.
However, the familiarity he built up with the Spartans through his first run through the recruiting process helped lead to this decision.
"(At MSU), I was already familiar with the coaches and things there," he told Spartan Digest's Mike Wilson. "I thought it would be the best fit for me and the best spot for me to play."
Martinez did spend one season with the Cornhuskers, but redshirted. He will have three years of eligibility remaining.
Spartans visit underclassmen
Warren De La Salle sophomore running back Allen Stritzinger reported that MSU stopped into his school this week. The 6-foot, 185-pound Stritzinger already has his first scholarship offer from Cincinnati and rushed for over 1,000 yards this season in helping to lead the Pilots to a state championship. He has visited the Spartans previously.
Michigan State also stopped in Oswego (Ill.) to see junior quarterback Steven Frank throw. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Frank has offers from Illinois and Minnesota.
The Spartans also extended offers to two southern juniors, Lithonia (Ga.) defensive end Jordan Smith (6-6, 210 pounds) and Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola junior safety Carlos Becker (6-3, 180 pounds).
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 and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.