Trieu: Developing Robertson now a big-time prospect for MSU

By Allen Trieu, Special to The Detroit News
Auston Robertson, considered the top-ranked player in Indiana for the Class of 2016, committed to Michigan State on Sunday.

One of the Midwest's top prospects, Fort Wayne (Ind.) Wayne junior defensive end Auston Robertson, recently named Michigan State in his top three along with Notre Dame and Ohio State. Popular opinion is now that the Spartans are the team to beat out of that group.

That he has been offered by those programs and is ranked by recruiting services as high as he is are indications of his physical talent and the strides he has made in a short period of time. As a sophomore, he did not play any defense. But his 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame and athleticism stood out last summer on the camp circuit, and then into the fall, where he lined up as a defensive end for the first time in his career.

Much of the progress he made can be attributed to his work with AWP Sports, which trains and mentors many of the top athletes in the area.

"Last year, Auston came to us and was pretty much just a physical specimen," founder and CEO Mike Ledo says, "and very raw as an individual. He thought he was a tight end and we asked him to put his hand on the ground and Kevin Bush, our linebacker and defensive line coach, and Bob Morton, who works with our offensive line and played at Notre Dame, worked with him and polished him up. But even when he played at Wayne last year, he was very raw because he got to us so late."

Now holding offers from top programs around the country, Robertson continues to go to camps and events where others with his profile would not. Ledo says he has committed to developing both physically and mentally, and that is why they have seen him continue to grow.

"He's definitely improving as a person and he still has a lot of room to grow physically," Ledo said. "He is about 250 pounds now. He's learning how to have balance and control his body. He plays middle linebacker for our 7-on-7 team and in the last tournament, I thought he was the best player there. Andre Rison and one Max Ex coach and other people were coming up to me saying, 'Oh my goodness,' because of how big he is and his ability to drop and change direction.

"It's his goal to be the No. 1 defensive player in the nation," Ledo added.

Defense is king at Michigan State, but so are many of the other philosophies Ledo wants to instill in his athletes. And while Robertson is not expected to announce a decision until June 7 at AWP's RAS Camp, if it is the Spartans, Ledo will be just fine with the decision.

"The thing about it is, Mark Dantonio is a great individual," he said. "The football success speaks for itself, but he's a phenomenal individual and they've produced amazing defensive linemen. They have an old school, no-nonsense strength coach (Ken Mannie) and one of the top academic support programs in country. Auston is fine in the classroom, but it doesn't come easy, so academic support is huge.

"Their coaches are a good group of people who have been together for a long time and it's somewhat close to home. I don't make decisions for kids, but I smile any time a kid tells me they want to go to Michigan State, because it's a place I would send my own son."

Freshman RB hearing from MSU

According to Scout's Bill Greene, Michigan State is one of the early schools showing interest in Nordonia (Ohio) running back Tye Evans, who enjoyed something of a breakout season as a freshman last year. Evans, who already stands 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, says Spartan coaches have been to his school. Michigan State signed his senior teammate, Justice Alexander, a defensive end, in the 2015 class.

Massive Detroit tackle visits

Detroit Renaissance once sent several players to Michigan State, including Lawrence Thomas, Mylan Hicks and Chris Norman. There is now another player at the school the Spartans are interested in -- 6-foot-7, 280-pound offensive tackle Alaric Jackson.

Jackson is a basketball player who did not play football until last season, but he picked it up quickly, and his athleticism and size has allowed him to add offers from Illinois, Nebraska, Kentucky, and others. He visited East Lansing last week and is certainly on the radar.

"They liked seeing my film and they really liked me, so now it's up to them if they are going to offer me or not," Jackson told Spartan Digest's Mike Wilson.

More information

Auston Robertson profile

Tye Evans profile

Alaric Jackson profile

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.