Before Chardon (Ohio) linebacker Chase Kline had even started being recruited by major schools, his head coach Mitch Hewitt looked at the way he played and said to himself, that is a Michigan State-type kid.
Hewitt was a four-year starter at linebacker at Bowling Green, so he knows the position well. His early assessment of Kline may turn out to be prophetic as several years later, Michigan State has offered Kline a scholarship and are heavily in contention for him after a recent visit.
“I think it’s a tremendous offer for many reasons,” Hewitt said. “The success of the program and the type of defense they play, which I said then he was a Michigan State-type kid because he plays with a blue-collar, chip-on-his-shoulder type of mentality. Michigan State speaks for itself and Michigan State has done well with northeast Ohio kids.”
Hewitt says Kline wants to make as informed a decision as possible in his recruitment. After taking a recent visit to Michigan State, Kline now has a much better sense of the Spartans as a football program and school.
“It was fantastic,” Kline said to Spartan Nation’s Hondo Carpenter. “I went to Michigan State on Monday and spent the night with a couple of players. It was really awesome. The next day I got to go to practice with them and see what a day is like. I got to talk to Mr. Dantonio and Mike Tressel and all of the guys. It was just a great experience.”
Kline stands 6-foot-31/2, 221 pounds. That size means he could project to more than one position. His 122 tackles as a junior suggests his usual position of linebacker is very likely, but his frame offers other possibilities as well, as does his willingness to work and the way he approaches the game.
“With the build he is right now, he could be a middle linebacker or a walk-up defensive end, no one totally knows, but no one really cares because he could be great at either spot he lands in,” Hewitt said. “He has all the tools and things you can’t coach. His intensity and passion for the game are hard to measure. You can’t time it with a stopwatch, but he loves to compete, hates to lose and he is a nasty human being on the football field, and I mean that with the utmost respect because he is a tremendous human being off the field.”
Michigan State offered at their summer camp. This was after he was named a top performer at several spring camps and combines. Minnesota also offered following their satellite camp in Ohio. For a kid who may not have been initially pegged as one who would excel with the pads off at such events, he quickly proved he had the athletic qualities needed to play at a high level of college football.
“I think it showed his mobility,” Hewitt said. “He’s improved in his hips. He’s more flexible. He can run with people and I think some saw him as a physical middle linebacker, who was maybe a tick slow at camps, but he has been the talk of these camps.”
Both Kline and Hewitt say a decision is nearing, and Hewitt adds that wherever his star linebacker lands, that school is getting not only a great player, but a wonderful kid as well.
“He is a high academic kid and he knows the microscope is bigger for him,” Hewitt said. “His sister is handicapped and that has helped him appreciate his gifts. There is a humbleness there. He is on top of the world, everyone wants him, but he has seen the other side of it too with his sibling.”
Kline holds additional offers from Iowa State, Syracuse, Boston College, Purdue, Toledo, Harvard and more.
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.