Trieu: 5 true freshmen to watch for this season for Michigan State

By Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News

Allen Trieu of 247Sports offers five true freshmen who are the most likely to see the field this season for Michigan State.

Kalon Gervin: An early enrollee in this class, it was expected Gervin, who was considered well-schooled and fast coming out of Detroit Cass Tech, would compete from Day One. But, with cornerback Josiah Scott missing the early part of the season, his chances increased even more, and he is one of the players in competition for that spot. Even if he does not win it outright, Gervin is the safest pick of all the true freshmen to play this year.

Former Detroit Cass Tech standout Kalon Gervin could carve out a role as a true freshman at Michigan State.

La’Darius Jefferson: This would have been a tough projection throughout Jefferson’s recruitment. A high school quarterback, he was an excellent runner, but taking handoffs and doing other parts of the job (blocking, catching the ball) were more unknown. Jefferson took care of business in the weight room, coming into camp at a college-ready 235 pounds. The reviews out of camp on him were good. How significant the time he gets remains to be seen, but the running back depth chart does seem to set up for him to log some carries.

More: MSU's La’Darius Jefferson hits 'reset switch,' adjusts to RB role

Trenton Gillison: Gillison enters a tight end room with several former top recruits and a returning starter in Matt Sokol. Still, with four games to use, he can begin the grooming process to be the future. A former four-star recruit himself, Gillison is an athletic and skilled pass-catcher.

Dashaun Mallory: The Spartans have solid depth at the defensive tackle spot, but Mallory came into camp over 300 pounds. He was a disruptive force in high school, but the concern always was whether he had the size to compete early. Now that that has been taken care of, he has a chance to be part of the rotation.

Receiver Jalen Nailor's work as a route-runner in high school has been noted by analysts, and could help him earn some early playing time at Michigan State.

Jalen Nailor: Again, wide receiver is a spot where Michigan State has many capable returners, but Nailor can work in the slot, and throughout his recruitment, analysts regularly noted his route-running and polish. He also played great competition in high school, helping to prepare him for this level.

Others to watch

Many analysts close to the program believed linebacker Jeslord Boateng was the steal of last year’s recruiting class. While that remains the case, he is in a crowded linebacker room. Still, he has a good opportunity to get his feet wet this year as the belief is still that his ceiling is very high.

Defensive backs Michael Dowell and Xavier Henderson both come in from Ohio with accomplished high school backgrounds. Dowell came in with the physical size to compete at this level.

MSU commit scores 3 TDs in opener

Julian Barnett had two touchdown catches and a touchdown run for Belleville as it pulled off a last-minute win over Brighton, 40-35, to open its season.

2020 wide receiver Jalen Williams, who has received some interest from Michigan State, caught the game-winner on fourth down with 15 seconds left.

Barnett, who will play defensive back at Michigan State, is one of the top candidates for Michigan’s Mr. Football.

MSU commit Hallock victorious in opener

Forest Hills Central won its opener, 21-19, over a tough Jenison team.

Michigan State commit Tate Hallock played wide receiver and safety in the win and had a key play, running for a first down on a fake punt, which led to a touchdown for the Rangers.

Hallock, the son of former Spartan Ty Hallock, was recruited by the Spartans as an athlete.

More information

Julian Barnett profile

Tate Hallock profile

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