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Trieu: MSU chases U-D Jesuit speedster Elijah Collins

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News
Elijah Collins

Running back is a key position for Michigan State in the 2018 recruiting class.

Hopewell (Va.) standout Ronnie Walker reported this week he will visit Michigan State in the summer. The Spartans are also pursuing Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar’s Tavion Thomas, and closer to home, University of Detroit Jesuit’s Elijah Collins has an offer and is making a lot of noise lately.

Collins turned in a top-10 rating at Nike’s recent Opening Regional in Cleveland. Top high school prospects are tested on 40-yard dash, shuttle, powerball toss and vertical jump, with all of the results being calculated into an overall rating, which is a measure of athleticism and explosiveness.

At 6-foot-0, 194 pounds, Collins ran a 4.66 in the 40-yard dash, the second fastest of any running back at the event.

He also named Michigan State as one of his four leaders, along with Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.

“Growing up, I've been around Michigan State and watched them play numerous games,” Collins said, “and Le'Veon Bell is one of my favorite players."

The Spartans offered in January, after a season in which he rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. Not bad for a kid who had given up football.

“As a sophomore, he did not play football,” Cubs head coach Oscar Olejniczak said. “He played in middle school and freshman football and loves football, but he and his family decided to focus on basketball. They thought he would get more opportunities, but he loved both sports and he missed it, and he wanted to get back to football.”

Trieu: Thompson-Robinson has ‘amazing’ UM experience

That proved to be a good move for Collins as he has received 12 college scholarship offers. It was also a fruitful move for Olejniczak, who got to add a rare playmaker and three-way player to his roster.

“Elijah started for us on both sides of the ball,” Olejniczak said. He played running back, linebacker and was also a returner. He is an explosive athlete that, literally every time he touches the ball, he has a chance to take it for a score.”

He also added a great locker room presence.

“I’ve actually told every college coach this: As I get to know Elijah, he’s a better teammate than he is a player,” Olejniczak said. “I can’t believe how great of a teammate he is, how he supports and helps teammates get better. The program and team are always first with him.”

Some schools are recruiting Collins as a linebacker or safety, but Michigan State is recruiting him as a running back. Olejniczak said position will not be a factor in his recruitment as he is open to any position.

Having come back to football this year, he has not been visiting schools for two or three years like some of his counterparts. He did visit Michigan State in the fall and again in the winter, so he continues to build familiarity with the Spartans.

“They’re recruiting him hard,” Olejniczak said. “They want him as a running back. They are very interested in him. Elijah is definitely interested. He is open to all schools, but Michigan State being in his backyard, they’re a school he is happy he got an offer from and is looking forward to get to know them better.”

Spartans offer Wisconsin back

Green Bay (Wis.) Preble running back Henry Geil was offered by Michigan State on Thursday night. Geil (6-0, 206 pounds) has offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Syracuse and others.

Iowa is considered the team to beat in his recruitment with Geil saying a decision could come soon. But even though the Michigan State offer is new, his relationship with them is not.

“They’re great people and just to associate myself from them would be great,” Geil said. “That’s the first school that really recruited me hard and I have a lot of respect for them.”

Geil camped at Michigan State last summer and was on campus in March on an unofficial visit.

Young Midwest prospects offered

Michigan State has been active across the country at the start of the spring evaluation period, but two new offers came out to class of 2019 prospects in the Midwest.

Orion (Ill.) tight end / defensive end Logan Lee and St. Louis Cardinal Ritter wide receiver Jameson Williams were offered scholarships.

Lee (6-5, 230 pounds) adds Michigan State to an offer list that includes Iowa, Ole Miss and Michigan.

Williams (6-2, 175 pounds) has additional offers from Syracuse, Kentucky and Illinois.

More information

Elijah Collins profile 

Henry Geil profile

Jameson Williams 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.