Trieu: Michigan State appears to make Illinois DE Keith Randolph a priority

By Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News

Belleville (Ill.) West defensive end Keith Randolph will take an official visit to Michigan State this weekend, according to his father.

This will be Randolph’s first official visit of the recruiting process. He already took an unofficial visit to Michigan State last month for their home game against Ohio State.

Defensive end Keith Randolph of Belleville (Ill.) West is visiting Michigan State this weekend.

Iowa, which Randolph may take an official visit to the following week, and Illinois are two schools the Spartans are competing with for the 6-foot-5, 270-pound senior, but he plans to name a top six soon.

"How much they prioritize me (will factor into my decision),” Randolph said. “Any school can come up here and say 'Keith, we want you,' I heard that a lot. I want to feel like they need me here. I want to feel that priority and feel like it is home wherever I go."

Michigan State has done its part to make it known that Randolph is a priority. Defensive line coach Ron Burton was in Belleville the first day coaches could be on the road visiting schools and conducting in-home visits. On Monday, defensive coordinator Mike Tressel and wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel were at the school.

Randolph is currently playing basketball, the sport he grew up playing before deciding to pick up football as a junior. Between practices, school work, and recruiting, he admits he is balancing a lot right now.

Dec. 19 will be the start of the early signing period, but some recruits may wait until Feb. 6, which is National Signing Day.

"I'm really not sure," Randolph admitted. "I'm kind of debating that now. I know sometimes, if you wait until the second Signing Day, more schools will jump in and honestly, I don't want that. Or schools will back out and I don't want that, either."

A high school football recruit not wanting more offers is highly unusual, but Randolph is happy with the options he has now and (barring Nick Saban calling him, he said) he is not looking to add additional schools, coaches and callers to a cell phone that is consistently buzzing right now.

Randolph keeps everything in perspective, however.

He ended the season with 56 tackles (nine for loss) and seven sacks while making all-state. That is quite the honor for a kid who was just putting on shoulder pads and getting into a three-point stance for the very first time less than two years ago.

"My very first practice, I got my very first offer from Lindenwood-Belleville, right up the street,” Randolph said. “People minimized that like it's a small school, but I was like, I got my first offer on my first day of football; just imagine what I could get if I had been playing my freshman year.”

West is nationally ranked in basketball and recently won the Washington Tournament of Champions over Rayville (La.). Randolph had 15 points and 22 rebounds in that game, so despite being a blue-chip football recruit now, he has not forgotten how to hoop.

Until recently, his profile picture on 247Sports was still him in a basketball uniform. That was recently switched out, as he is undoubtedly a future college football player now, one who will be in East Lansing this weekend, and one Michigan State hopes will be one of the final pieces to their 2019 recruiting class.

MSU offers WMU QB commit

On Tuesday evening, Michigan State offered a scholarship to Naperville (Ill.) Central quarterback Payton Thorne, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior who is committed to Western Michigan.

Michigan State currently does not have a quarterback commit in the 2019 class. Oak Park’s Dwan Mathis de-committed from MSU in June, and the Spartan staff spent the fall evaluating potential quarterback prospects before arriving at Thorne. He is the first quarterback to be offered a scholarship since the Mathis news.

Thorne was the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year this season after passing for 7,008 yards and 83 touchdowns in his three-year varsity career. 40 of those touchdowns came as a senior, with four more being added on the ground.

At this time, Throne remains committed to Western Michigan.

MSU offers Georgia junior

Alpharetta (Ga.) Denmark wide receiver Ze’Vian Capers, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior, was offered a scholarship by Michigan State on Tuesday.

Clemson, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, Syracuse and more have offered Capers as well.

He finished his junior season with 60 receptions for 1,182 yards and 11 touchdowns.

More information

Keith Randolph profile

Payton Thorne profile

Ze'Vian Capers 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