Zeeland East junior Adam Berghorst is a rare recruit for Michigan State in that, the Spartans have offered him in two sports: baseball, where he is a sought-after pitcher, and football, where his size and athleticism as a defensive end have caught the eyes of many Midwestern programs.
Berghorst has not set a decision date, but the expectation is for him to not drag a decision out into the fall or winter months. Notre Dame, which he just visited, is one of the Spartans’ primary competitors for him in addition to Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa, Boston College, Pittsburgh, and several other major offers.
“He’s obviously off the radar — an outlier — in terms of size and athletic ability,” Zeeland East head coach Derek Pennington said. “That is probably the biggest piece is that you don’t get kids that who are 6-foot-6, 6-foot-7, that haven’t really even physically matured yet. He has a lot of room for growth, and that is a huge piece of it.”
Primarily a defensive end as a junior, Berghorst’s dimensions have had some schools thinking future offensive tackle. Michigan State has recruited him on defense. The Spartans have had experience with similar body types on both sides of the ball — Tyler Hoover at defensive end for one, and recently Cole Chewins, a high school tight end now starting at offensive tackle.
“Right now, I think schools are just recruiting him as an athlete, a big kid that can play on the line somewhere,” Pennington said. “I think he likes defense better, and whenever you recruit someone, you tell them what they like, but I certainly think he could develop into an offensive lineman as well. We’re going to play him there this year, and with his height and size, I keep telling him the second-highest paid position on an NFL team is the left offensive tackle, so that’s not a bad place to be.”
Not only is Berghorst an excellent pitcher, he also played varsity basketball. Multiple schools, including Michigan State, attended basketball games or practices during their contact period. During that time, Berghorst was playing basketball, still working on baseball several nights of the week, all while maintaining his academics.
“I think he’s really busy, so it can be hard for him to gain weight,” Pennington said. “But honestly, colleges these days are very interested in kids who are multi-sport athletes, who compete all the time, and we try to emphasize that here. That outweighs the benefits of gaining weight, which he will do down the road. The fact that he’s as tall as he is, can throw a baseball, hit a baseball, bend his knees, play basketball, and show agility, all of those things speak to how athletic he for his size. A lot of kids that are recruited as linemen at the college level are not recruitable baseball players because they are not that athletic.”
Regardless of whether Berghorst chooses Michigan State in the end, they are a program which Pennington said always has been good to his program.
“They’re the one big school that’s consistently been in our building,” Pennington said, “Mark Staten has been coming here for 10 years, so he’s developed a good relationship with our school. They were the first school to offer Adam that was a big, Midwest school. They do their homework. They’re very diligent about evaluating kids, and at the same time, very consistent about their relationships they have here. They come to our place every year whether we have an Adam or not.”
The Spartans have a walk-on wide receiver from Zeeland East, Khylin Barton, currently on the team. The last time the Spartans signed a player from Zeeland was defensive tackle Derek Stielstra in 1999.
Basketball now transitions into baseball for Berghorst, so his schedule does not slow down much, but as he has throughout the process, which included a big spike in the winter, he is handling it all with a level head.
“Adam’s very low-key, very balanced kid,” Pennington said. “He doesn’t get caught up in lot of the recruiting stuff. I’m glad he’s going to Florida with the baseball team and getting away for a little while, though. It’s good for him. He doesn’t get overly emotional or stressed out about anything.”
Berghorst has no college visits scheduled at this time.
MSU offers 2 of Detroit’s top sophs
Michigan State offered Detroit King duo Rashawn Williams and Lemuel Neely-Watley on Saturday during their visit.
Williams, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound wide receiver, already has established himself as one of the state and region’s top prospects. He holds offers from Ohio State, Michigan, and others. Known for his ability to make difficult catches, Williams caught seven touchdown passes as a sophomore.
Neely-Watley, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound wide receiver and defensive back, is now at King after playing at East English Village in the fall. Indiana and Kentucky are among his other offers. He caught 53 passes for 747 yards and 11 touchdowns while breaking up 13 passes on defense in the fall.
Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. 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.