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Trieu: Michigan State target Marcus Mbow a quick study in transition from basketball

By Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News

Michigan State has 12 commitments in its 2021 recruiting class. Two of them, Ethan Boyd and Kevin Wigenton, are on the offensive line, but the Spartans are hoping to add more big bodies there.

One target is Milwaukee (Wis.) Wauwatosa East offensive tackle Marcus Mbow, who was offered by the Spartans in April, but had visited the previous October for the Penn State game.

Marcus Mbow of Wauwatosa (Wis.) East received an offer from Michigan State in April

"I liked the environment, coaches, learning about the program," Mbow said. "The weather was super bad, though."

That unfortunate weather experience has not kept the Spartans from being a school Mbow is considering along with Iowa State, Nebraska and more.

Recruiting has come quickly for the 6-foot-6, 290-pound Mbow, who one year ago, was still considered more of a basketball player.

“I was hired in the beginning of July,” East head coach David Pfeiffer said. “The first thing I did, other than try to get a staff together, was meet the kids. I was in the weight room and didn’t see Marcus in there. He was taking summer classes. He would pop in every now and then, but I found out he was a basketball kid. He was 6-foot-5, 290 pounds so I said he sounds like a football player to me. After I started to get to work with him more, it was evident in a matter of days he was a football prospect. He had very good feet, was very, very smart and the more we worked together and the more the season progressed, the better and better he got.”

Pfeiffer found Mbow to be a very quick study. They worked hard on fundamentals, and Mbow took to them. His future as a major college prospect really began to take shape when he faced a big test against Brookfield Central, a team with a heavily recruited defensive end in Hayden Nelson, who is now committed to Syracuse.

“Marcus held his own or better in that game,” Pfeiffer said. “Their coach, Coach (Joel) Nellis, who played at Wisconsin, called Wisconsin and all of a sudden, Wisconsin wanted to know what was going on, Iowa got involved, Iowa State, we had some connections there and he ended up being invited to a game and Coach (Matt) Campbell offered him a scholarship.”

More: More football recruits make early decisions as pandemic fuels uncertainty with process

That offer from the Cyclones and the subsequent offers that followed changed Mbow’s mindset. He now knew football was his future.

“He is still a nice basketball player,” Pfeiffer said. “But he recognized where his bread is buttered. He has done everything we have asked him to do. Weight lifting is a big part of his life now. He has grown an inch, he is about 6-foot-6, 300 pounds and his body has changed dramatically.”

Pfeiffer’s advice to Mbow about recruiting has been to listen more than talk, and find a place he fits in socially and academically, not just with football. Where that is is to be determined, and is likely to be determined through visits.

He had an official visit set with Nebraska for June, but the NCAA’s extension of the dead period means that will have to be rescheduled.

Returning to Michigan State, where he and offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic have developed a relationship, is possible.

Whoever gets Mbow is getting a prospect whose trajectory continues to go up toward his considerable ceiling.

“This is my 42nd year whether that’s as an assistant or head coach, and I’ve been around some very, very good high school and then collegiate players,” Pfeiffer said. “I’ve been around one that just left Michigan as a four-year starter (Ben Bredeson), and seen a lot of great players. Based on where Marcus has come from and where he is now, he’s a piece of coal that will be someone’s diamond when put into the correct pressure. He has the God-given abilities with feet, size, work ethic and drive to be a great player.”

247Sports ranks Mbow the No. 6 junior prospect in the state of Wisconsin.

Class of 2022 offers continue

Michigan State has offered two of the better big guys in the northern states’ 2022 class.

Downingtown (Pa.) West’s Drew Shelton, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound offensive lineman and Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove defensive lineman Caden Curry were both offered by the Spartans.

Shelton has offers from Kansas State, Penn State, West Virginia, Pitt and more.

Curry, a four-star prospect, has offers from Ohio State, Minnesota, Purdue, Missouri, Iowa and more.

More information

Marcus Mbow profile

Caden Curry profile

Drew Shelton 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