Trieu: MSU begins chase for top 2018 talent

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News
Ryan Hayes

Michigan State just completed its 2017 recruiting class a week ago, but the Spartans are already off to a fast start in the 2018 class with three commitments.

Those three commits -- cornerback Xavier Henderson, tight end Trenton Gillison and wide receiver Joseph Scates -- are all from Ohio and all four-star prospects. There are also a number of other targets the staff is working hard on.

Quarterback: The Spartans recently offered in-state prospect Theo Day from Dearborn Divine Child. He is set to visit later in the month and while he has not named a leader, Michigan State is expected to be one of his primary choices. Kevin Doyle, a Pennsylvania native who recently transferred to St. Johns College in Washington D.C., also holds a Spartan offer and has them on his list of top choices.

Running back: Michigan State is sitting in good position with Tavion Thomas, a 225-pound back who played at Dayton Dunbar with Scates last season. He has received additional offers from Wisconsin and Kentucky since his Spartan offer, but has established a good relationship with the staff in East Lansing.

Trieu: Key Michigan recruiting targets for 2018

Wide receiver: The Spartans have quite a few receiver offers out to non-Midwest prospects. Several receivers in the southeast and Texas hold offers and it remains to be seen how strongly they will consider MSU. L’Christian Smith from Ohio and Edward Hendrix from D.C. are two bigger-bodied targets who are both considering Michigan State. Kamryn Babb, a four-star from St. Louis, visited last summer and holds a long list of offers.

Offensive line: This is setting up to be a good position for the Spartans in this class. Las Vegas Bishop Gorman’s Jacob Isaia was recently offered. His grandfather played for MSU. Maria Stein (Ohio) Marion Local’s John Dirksen and Traverse City West’s Ryan Hayes are two more big offensive linemen who have Spartan offers and hold the school in high regard. Blaine Scott, another Ohioan, and Jalen Mayfield, another in-state prospect, are two more who have offers, and Michigan State should have good chances with both.

Defensive line: MSU just offered Cincinnati Moeller four-star Aeneas Hawkins. While he holds a long list of offers, the Spartans’ success at the school (Greg Jones, Monty Madaris, Marcus Rush, Matt Dotson) should help them be in this race. Cam Goode from Washington D.C. and Josh Walker from Georgia are two other tackles the Spartans are in on. At defensive end, a couple Ohioans, Malik Vann and Tyreke Smith, and St. Louis native Ronnie Perkins, are a couple of the names to know. MSU was first to offer top 100 prospect Greg Emerson from Jackson (Tenn.), and his recruitment has since exploded. Andrew Chatfield of Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage holds an offer and the Spartans just signed teammate Laress Nelson in the 2017 class. Leonard Taylor from Ohio and a number of southeastern prospects like Georgia native Abi Okonji are high on the board as well.

Linebacker: MSU was first to offer Cincinnati Winton Woods’ Chris Oats, but Ohio State will be tough to beat there. Keep an eye on a pair of Floridians, Darrell Shelton and Khalan Tolson. The Spartans are also looking to head into Pennsylvania and battle both Penn State and Pittsburgh for 6-foot-4, 240-pound Nick Tarburton of Pennridge High. U-D Jesuit’s Elijah Collins, currently recruited as an athlete, may fit as a linebacker prospect. He can also play safety or running back and has similarities to 2017 signee Antjuan Simmons.

Defensive backs: With his two older brothers currently on the roster, Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward’s Michael Dowell is a name Spartan fans should know. At cornerback, top 150 prospect Jairus Brents from Louisville has an offer and has shown interest. Detroit’s Cass Tech’s Kalon Gervin is an in-state prospect who holds an offer. The Spartans had success recruiting corners out of Georgia recently with Tre Person. They have offered two Peach State corners in 2018 already with Tre Douglas and Kyler McMichael, both four-star prospects. Detroit Cass Tech’s DeAndre Square is another top target at safety along with IMG Academy’s Houston Griffith, Pennsylvania native Kwantel Raines and D.C. native Noah Boykin.

More information

Ryan Hayes profile

Michael Dowell profile

Tavion Thomas profile

Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for 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