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Trieu: Receiver Ali Jennings could be big catch for Michigan State

By Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News

Highland Springs (Va.) wide receiver Ali Jennings has a top eight of Michigan State, West Virginia, James Madison, Illinois, North Carolina, Toledo, Temple, and Georgia Tech.

Jennings, a 6-foot-2, 186-pound senior, is one of the remaining targets for a Michigan State class which has 16 members. There are three other receivers in the class — Tre Mosley, Jase Bowen and Alante Brown — but all three bring something different to the table, and Jennings’ size and style of play would be another complement to the variety of skills that group has.

Receiver Ali Jennings of Highland Springs (Va.) has Michigan State in his list of eight finalists.

“There is another young man at Michigan State, Felton Davis, who played here at Highland Springs and he reminds me of him,” Springers head coach Loren Johnson said. “They are both bigger guys who position their body well and catch the ball at the highest point. Felton was a hurdler, Ali is not a hurdler right now, but they can both maneuver their bodies and have the same fast-twitch muscle. Ali can get up and get down quickly whether he is playing basketball or on the football field.”

Jennings is looking to find a time to get to back to East Lansing, along with some of the other schools on his list.

“Last night, he told me he would be attending the West Virginia-Tennessee game in Charlotte (North Carolina) this weekend,” Johnson said. “West Virginia is recruiting him heavily. I know he’s going to Michigan State for a game, but I don’t know which one yet.”

Highland Springs is a highly successful program who has won three state championships in a row. The quest for four does not preclude their student-athletes from going through the recruiting process, however, and that includes Jennings.

“He’s actively going through the process during the fall,” Johnson said. “We encourage all of our kids to do so, because going to a school one time during an unofficial doesn’t give them the opportunity to see everything. It is an active process, a daily process, and then once a decision is made, you can go ahead and let those individuals know a decision and move on.”

Jennings is not a kid Johnson has to worry about, either in terms of recruiting getting in the way of his other responsibilities.

“He is a phenomenal kid in terms of work ethic,” Johnson said. “He is a 3.9 GPA kid, he works extremely hard in the classroom. That is something he does not take for granted. One of the things he has done for our program is elevate our work ethic. You might say, how does one kid do that when you’re a three-time state champion? But he did not come in as a starter. He pushed the other kids and worked his way into a starting role.”

During the extensive time Jennings spent working out and working on his game at the school, he would sometimes have a familiar visitor.

“Felton comes back to school to work out and the benefactors of that are the kids that play wide receiver,” Johnson said. “So Ali and Felton do not know each other extensively — you’re talking about a four-year gap there — but they are cordial and aware of each other, and Felton knows the intricacies of playing in the offense and teaches that to the guys.”

Jennings is ranked as the No. 19 senior prospect in the state of Virginia by the 247Sports Composite.

Visitors for Friday’s opener

Michigan State will have a handful of committed prospects on campus for Friday’s home opener against Utah State. They include in-state offensive linemen Devontae Dobbs and Spencer Brown.

They will also host Brighton quarterback Will Jontz, a senior who finds himself as a fast-rising name in recruiting circles after scoring five touchdowns against a Belleville defense full of Division 1 recruits last week.

Ann Arbor Pioneer junior wide receiver Karamba Kaba is also expected to attend the game as a visitor.

More information

Ali Jennings profile

Devontae Dobbs profile

Will Jontz 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 detroitnews.com.