Josh Priebe attended Michigan State’s Spartan Elite Camp last June and the Edwardsburg (Mich.) junior offensive tackle caught the attention of the coaches. They evaluated him throughout his junior season, and after it was over, offered him a scholarship.
Priebe (6-5, 275 pounds) returns to East Lansing on Saturday for Junior Day.
A two-year starter for the Eddies, he helped them win a state title last fall. That title game was against Chelsea, which was ironically the same team he first made his presence felt against as a freshman.
“He actually played on the freshman team for that year, then once we got in the playoffs, we started working him in,” Eddies head coach Kevin Bartz said. “We brought him in for a couple big situations against Chelsea in the semis on third- and fourth-and-short defensively.”
That offseason is when Bartz and his staff began to see that they had a special player on their hands.
“We saw the transition from then to his sophomore year,” Bartz said. “The strength he put on between workouts and conditioning-wise on his own, and he went through a bit of a growth spurt then, as well. The physical development from his freshman to sophomore year is when we knew he would be a good football player for us.”
In mid-December, when Mark Dantonio told Priebe the Spartans were offering him a scholarship, he called it a dream come true. At that point, Central Michigan and Toledo had offered, but MSU was his first Big Ten opportunity.
"This offer means so much," he said. "MSU is a program with lots of great people, and I really like everything about them. I’ve continued to build relationships with all the coaches and I connect really well with them."
During this contact period, Miami (Fla.) came in and offered a scholarship, as did Duke. It is rare for those schools to come through Edwardsburg, but they are all there for the same reason.
“It has been a great experience,” Bartz said. “He is the first true D1 scholarship athlete I have had, so to watch the progression of coaches – to get calls from the Dukes and Miamis that are coming here – and obviously they are stopping off in Grand Rapids, Chicago and Detroit, but they said the reason they came up here is to see Josh.”
Coaches have noted his size, lateral agility and aggressiveness.
“Miami wanted to watch him do some flexibility drills because some big guys are not so flexible and Josh is extremely flexible,” Bartz said. “Then you look at him and he weighs 275, 280 pounds, but you would never know it, so they are excited they can put 35 to 40 pounds on him and not lose a step. Then they want to hear him talk and see what kind of person he is and once they hear that, they are more impressed because he is not just another big lineman.”
Priebe has a 3.8 grade-point average and is a model worker away from the Friday nights.
“He is very low-key,” Bartz said. “He is 6-foot-5, 280 pounds, but not a loud kid or anything. He knows what he wants – he wants to play at the collegiate level. He stays an additional half-hour to 45 minutes to do specialty work. He was blessed with size, but it is things like his work ethic and coachability that will get him to the D1 level and the elite D1 level I believe.”
Priebe now has nine offers in total including Nebraska and Purdue, along with the Spartans in the Big Ten.
Other Junior Day visitors
Among the other Junior Day visitors will be Detroit King cornerback Lemuel Neely-Watley and Southfield A&T defensive tackle Bryce Austin, two in-state prospects with Spartan offers.
Windsor (Ontario) Holy Names tight end Theo Johnson, who is quickly blossoming into a high-level recruit, is also slated to attend. He has a Michigan State offer along with offers from LSU, Georgia, Michigan, Penn State and more.
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.