The recruitment of Wyoming Godwin Heights junior lineman Ru’Quan Buckley is an example of how quickly recruiting can change.
Buckley, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound two-way performer at the Grand Rapids-area school, is being recruited by some schools as a defensive end and others as an offensive tackle.
During the winter evaluation period, he added several new offers, including Power Five opportunities from Purdue, Syracuse and Indiana. That added to existing offers from Michigan, Nebraska, Kentucky, Michigan, Iowa State and more.
Michigan State had not offered yet, but the Spartans had stopped in to Godwin Heights several times during the winter. During one of the final weeks before the dead period, area recruiter Mark Staten attended one of Buckley’s basketball games.
That same week, then-Colorado offensive line coach and run game coordinator Chris Kapilovic had come into the school and later extended an offer to Buckley.
Just days later, Mark Dantonio announced his retirement as Michigan State head coach, a position later filled by Mel Tucker, who brought Kapilovic along with him to East Lansing.
All of that led to Kapilovic reaching out to Buckley and his head coach, Brandon Kimble, recently and extending an offer now at Michigan State.
“Coach Kap and Coach Tucker reached out and extended an offer. They talked to Ru’Quan on the phone,” Kimble said. “We are looking to visit there this or next weekend.”
The Spartans do have some work to do.
Nebraska and other programs have built a good relationship with Buckley as he waited for a Spartan offer, and that has led to increased comfort with leaving home.
“I think Michigan State is a serious option,” Kimble explained, “but I think his family likes the thought of him leaving the state. Now, he didn’t have the offers he was looking for from the in-state schools, but now that that’s come and he’s able to possibly get there every weekend if he wanted to and get to know the staff, that is something he will look at.”
The work Kapilovic has done on the recruiting trail with Buckley also could pay off.
“One advantage they have is they were so far away and flew to come see him,” Kimble said. “They came from the other side of the country. They had been talking and trying to figure out how to get him out (to Colorado) — we thought it might have to be an official since it was farther away, and now they’re so much closer.”
On the field, Buckley was once a raw, tall, but underweight prospect who now has filled into a legitimate high-major prospect. He went from hoping to get offers to now aiming to prove he is one of the best in the region, and the country.
That development was highlighted by a 30-pound leap in weight between his sophomore and junior season and added dominance which came with it.
“We were laughing because we said every time somebody got injured in practice, it was because of him.” Kimble said. “In certain sessions, we had to pull him out. We said everybody go 100% except for him because he was that much more physically dominant.”
In addition to Michigan State, Kimble said they are looking at potential visits to Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa State and more in the spring.
Staff continues to extend offers
Michigan State is continuing to be aggressive on the recruiting trail under Tucker.
The Spartans steadily have been extending offers from coast to coast.
One new offer was to Wadsworth (Ohio) tight end Mitchell Evans. An impressive physical specimen at 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, Evans was offered by new tight ends coach Ted Gilmore, who recently came over from Wisconsin. He holds additional offers from Iowa State, West Virginia, Purdue, Indiana, Kansas and more.
Another tight end who received an offer was Terrance Ferguson of Littleton (Colo.) Heritage, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound four-star per the 247Sports composite. Ferguson held an offer from Tucker and his staff at Colorado. He has other opportunities from Arizona State, Oregon, Auburn and more. The Spartans join Nebraska, Penn State and Ohio State as his Big Ten offers.
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.