Michigan State’s quest for a tight end in the 2019 class has gone to the junior-college ranks now, as the Spartans extended an offer to Ventura (Calif.) College’s Travis Koontz.
Koontz might be out on the West Coast now, but he has Midwest roots, having played in high school at Boardman (Ohio).
Out of high school, was committed to Bowling Green and was ranked by 247Sports as the top Mid-American Conference commit in his home state.
After going to Ventura instead, Koontz saw several Power 5 offers come his way, including Pittsburgh, the school he was committed to until recently. In early October, he de-committed from the Panthers citing a lack of tight end usage in their offense, and Michigan State is one of the more recent schools to offer him a scholarship.
At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds with a complete package of schools, Koontz projects as a player who can step in and immediately make a difference next season.
“He has all the attributes you look for that are hard to find in a tight end,” Ventura head coach Steve Mooshagian said. “He is a dominating blocker, runs good routes, has good hands, good size, and he’s a guy that you can put in multiple formations and multiple positions. He is not just a hands-down tight end. He is good in space, flexed out, and also in a wing. He is aggressive. His wrestling background helps him. He finishes his blocks very aggressively, and usually, you find tight ends in junior college are better receivers than they are blockers. Well, he’s a better blocker probably and he’s a good receiver, too, so that’s what makes him so unique.”
Fresno State, Maryland, UCLA, Boise State and TCU are among the other programs interested.
Those schools might be farther away from his roots in Ohio, but having already left the region, Koontz is not concerned with location.
“Honestly, I'm just looking for the best fit for me, and I'm not concerned if that's here in California or back in the Midwest,” he said. “I will go anywhere in the country that really wants me and it's a good fit for my talent. I want to play in the NFL, so this decision is going to be about achieving that goal down the line."
Since his de-commitment from Pittsburgh, there has been an increase in schools putting him on their radar as well.
“He’s had half a dozen or so schools request transcripts,” Mooshagian said. “I think he has nine or 10 offers right now from a lot of West Coast schools. Pitt is still recruiting him, too ... Michigan State, East Carolina, a lot of them. Anybody that is looking for a tight end has Travis on their radar.”
Koontz is not planning to enroll midyear, so he has time to make a decision. He is planning to still make it after the completion of his season, though.
"I will be at Ventura until spring and then report to my school next May or June. I will have three years to play, too, once I enroll,” Koontz said.
The West Coast schools are easier for him to get to right now, but in the near future, Koontz’s schedule will allow him to utilize his official visits, with Michigan State hoping to be one.
“He is planning on taking some visits as soon as we get a chance after our bowl and playoff games are over,” Mooshagian said. “I know Dec. 1, that weekend is open and he would like to take one then. He has already taken an official to Pitt, so he will have four more.”
Koontz has a lot to figure out still, but his coach is confident he will make a well-informed decision when the time comes.
“Travis is an intelligent kid, pretty open, and just wants to go to a place where he is needed,” Mooshagian explained. “He definitely has a skill-set that a lot of NFL teams will be looking at down the road. He is a very gifted football player and does very well in school, too, and that’s what makes me happiest is how much better of a student he has become now that he is at Ventura.”
247Sports now ranks Koontz as the No. 2 junior college tight end in the country.
Two new defensive back offers
Michigan State has offered Cedar Hill (Texas) Trinity Christian cornerback Shilo Sanders, a senior, and the son of NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.
Sanders might take a visit to East Lansing, but nothing has been set yet. South Carolina, Florida State and others are recruiting the 6-foot-0, 170-pound Sanders.
The Spartans also offered a defensive back in the junior class, East St. Louis (Ill.) safety Antonio Johnson. Johnson is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound four-star recruit who holds additional offers from Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Penn State and more.
He has said he will not visit any schools until his season is complete.
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.