Trieu: Top MSU targets to take in Notre Dame clash

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News

Michigan State welcomes Notre Dame to East Lansing on Saturday night for a game which will have many eyes on it, including those of a strong group of recruiting visitors.

The visitor list is large, with prospects ranging from seniors down to freshmen set to attend.

Three players will be on their official visits: Mountain Brook (Ala.) running back/athlete Harold Joiner, Provo (Utah) Timpview defensive tackle Jackson Cravens, and Stockbridge (Ga.) Woodland guard James Ohonba.

Joiner is seen as an athlete by some because of his size (6-3, 213 pounds), but the Spartans are recruiting him solely as a running back. That gives them an opportunity to pull him away from the south and schools like LSU, who is considered one of the Spartans’ biggest competitors for his commitment.

Cravens (6-3, 270 pounds), also is considering Washington, Utah, Georgia, and Vanderbilt, but has a connection with MSU. He is the cousin of Spartan defensive end Mufi Hill-Hunt.

“I’m really excited because they (Michigan State) have been recruiting me very hard, probably the hardest of any school,” Cravens told Scout’s Blair Angulo.

In-state Utah is where 67 percent of recruiting experts predict Cravens to end up on the 247Sports Crystal Ball, but the Spartans will have a big opportunity to change that this weekend. Cravens plans to take visits and not make a commitment until National Signing Day in February.

Ohonba is a 6-foot-5, 320-pound prospect who is from the same school that current Spartan freshman cornerback Shakur Brown attended. He named a top two of Duke and Alabama in early August, but the Spartans have come on strong since then.

Offensive line coach Mark Staten was recently at Woodland to check in on Ohonba.

A slew of unofficial visitors are also expected to be on hand.

The most notable senior prospects are Cincinnati defensive end commit Malik Vann, a four-star who was considering Michigan State heavily prior to his verbal to the Bearcats; Detroit Cass Tech four-star cornerback Kalon Gervin, and University of Detroit Jesuit running back Elijah Collins.

Gervin, a speedy cover man, took an official visit to Oklahoma last Saturday. Once committed to Notre Dame, he re-opened his recruitment and has continued to keep Michigan State on his list. He will have highly recruited junior teammates Jaren Mangham (running back), Xavier Goldsmith (cornerback), and Ormondell Dingle (safety) with him.

Collins is an important target for the Spartans, as running back is a need in the class. The Spartan staff will be at his game on Friday when his team plays Dearborn Divine Child, whose quarterback, Theo Day, is committed to MSU.

Junior visitors who have Spartan offers include Oak Park quarterback Dwan Mathis, Belleville wide receiver/athlete Julian Barnett, his teammate Devontae Dobbs, one of the nation’s top offensive linemen; Buford (Ga.) offensive tackle Carter Colquitt, and Pine-Richland (Pa.) offensive tackle Andrew Kristofic.

Sophomore visitors who have Spartan offers include Detroit King wide receiver Rashawn Williams and Oak Park offensive lineman Justin Rogers.

More information

Jackson Cravens profile

James Ohonba profile

Harold Joiner 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