The transition from high school quarterback to college tight end is not unprecedented. The most notable example in the pros is Travis Kelce, but Logan Thomas, Trey Burton and Blake Bell are just a few other examples of players who have successfully made the move.
That should give Michigan State fans confidence in new commit Jake Renda, especially considering he will get a leg up on the position and a college lifestyle.
Renda played quarterback up in New Jersey, but is transferring to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, for his senior year and will play tight end there while experiencing being away from home, a coaching staff with NFL and college experience, and playing the best competition in the country.
Renda had nine total offers, and the Spartans were one of the later schools on that list, but they made up ground and quickly earned his commitment with tight ends coach Ted Gilmore doing the heavy lifting in recruiting him.
“Coach Gilmore said that he’s really looking to kind of get more athleticism and speed at the tight end position, and he thinks that I fit that role and I can bring that kind of athleticism and threat in the passing game for what he’s looking for,” Renda said.
The idea of playing tight end was not new to Renda. He had thought about it since his freshman year. Those thoughts were corroborated by college coaches.
“A lot of coaches would come up to me and say, just because of my size and they saw me moving around a little bit on tape, they thought I fit well in kind of that modern-day tight end role where they’re asked to do a lot of things offensively,” he said.
So IMG head coach Bobby Acosta did not have to make too much of a pitch to get him to consider the position switch and playing for IMG. It also furthers the bridge between Michigan State and that very talent-laden program. The Spartans hired strength coach Jason Novak from there in February.
Renda will be a great prospect for Novak to work with because he has the frame and base physical tools. His recent workout tape he produced allowed schools to see him run routes and catch passes despite not having spring evaluation or camp. He also shared that with 247Sports’ Brian Dohn.
“He is pushing 6-5 and is between 225-230 pounds. He ran a 4.61 in the 40 last summer at a shade over 200 pounds. He broad jumped 9 feet, 11 inches, so he has athleticism,” Dohn said. “As a route runner and pass catcher, Renda shows promise. Keep in mind, it is off drills and not in a game, but he is natural catching the ball and he locates it well coming out of breaks. He gets his hands away from his body and snatches the ball.”
Ultimately, every recruit is a projection, but Renda’s athletic ability and size make him one with great upside.
And he is making a leap others have made successfully in the past.
2022 defensive linemen offered
Michigan State has offered Hamburg (N.Y.) St. Francis defensive end Jimmy Scott, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound junior-to-be.
The Spartans join Ole Miss, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas A&M and more on his offer sheet.
At his size, Scott has also been a successful running back, rushing for 1,354 yards and 14 touchdowns the last two seasons.
Michigan State also offered Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral defensive end Anthony Lucas, who already stands 6-foot-4½, 279 pounds.
In-state schools Arizona and Arizona State have also offered, but Auburn, Michigan, Penn State, and other out-of-region schools are looking to sway him away from the Wildcats and Sun Devils.
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.