Michigan State’s Spartan 300 program has replaced the traditional big junior day gatherings. The focus instead is on more of an open-door policy where recruits can come up virtually any time and be treated to more of a personal experience in a smaller group setting.
This Sunday, there is a talented group coming that will be treated to a home basketball game against Penn State, along with tours and an opportunity to connect with the football staff.
Three players from Indianapolis Cathedral were offered scholarships in advance of their visits -- junior linebacker Pete Werner, sophomore running back Markese Stepp and sophomore offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor Jr.
Few recruits in the Midwest have had the recent recruiting run Werner (6-3, 210 pounds) has. Nebraska, Iowa, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan have all offered in the last 10 days.
“Michigan State is a great school with great facilities and a great program,” he said. “Coach (Mark) Dantonio’s got it going on in that program. Going up there will be cool seeing what they do. I’m looking forward to the visit and am very excited.”
Stepp is a physical 6-foot-0, 205-pound back who rushed for more than 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns during his sophomore season. Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and others have offered him, but he says the Spartans are one of his top schools, due in part to how well he fits the way they run the ball.
“I feel like I would do real well in their offense,” he said. “I feel I could run the ball the way they would want me to. I went up there for their game against Indiana and it was really nice and I loved it.”
Ekiyor Jr. has been a varsity starter since his freshman season. Beginning that year, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound road-grader quickly added offers to a list that now stands at 14. He recently reported Tennessee was his leader among offers from Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma, Louisville, Indiana and several more.
Michigan State’s offer now puts them in the mix as he called the Spartan opportunity “huge,” especially since he had a chance to see the team play as a freshman and will now get to experience East Lansing again.
“I know Michigan State is a really good program,” he said. “They are recruiting me pretty heavy right now and I’m trying to get up there and experience everything and see what it’s like.”
Four-star Cleveland Heights (Ohio) wide receiver Jaylen Harris holds a Michigan State offer and is expected to attend the game.
Berrien Springs (Mich.) defensive tackle Phillip Paea will return to campus. A recent recipient of a Spartan offer, Paea is also expected to visit Notre Dame this weekend. Another in-state lineman who has an offer and will visit Sunday is Detroit Cass Tech’s Jordan Reid.
Several in-state juniors who have not been offered yet, but are being watched and evaluated closely by the staff, include Flint Southwestern defensive end Deron Irving-Bey, Allendale tight end Nate Umlor, Zeeland East defensive lineman Johnathan Berghorst, Greenville tight end Keegan Cossou, Plymouth running back Darius Timmons, Ann Arbor Skyline linebacker Treshaun Hayward, Berrien Springs linebacker Steven Spenner and Dearborn offensive tackle Mustafa Khaleefah.
A number of young prospects from in-state will also visit. Muskegon offensive tackle Antwan Reed already holds an offer from the Spartans. Others expected to attend include Gibraltar Carlson quarterback Jaylen Franklin, one of his favorite targets, tight end Matt Harmon, Brother Rice wide receiver Dwayne Thompson, Romulus linebacker Tyler Carter and Macomb Dakota freshman wide receiver Jacob Dobbs.
Texas OL taking Friday visit
The fact that Richmond (Texas) Travis guard Will Farrar will take his second trip up from the Lone Star State to East Lansing in the span of just over a month should be proof enough of his interest in the Spartans.
A 6-foot-5, 290-pound junior, Farrar visited Michigan State on Jan. 21 when he was offered, and is set to return on Friday for another visit.
Farrar will then visit Northwestern on Saturday before heading west to see USC and UCLA next week.
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.