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Trieu: New Jersey star teammates to pay visit to Michigan State

By Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News

The NCAA has extended the dead period until Sept. 30, prohibiting FBS colleges from setting up visits with and hosting prospective football recruits on campus.

A number of recruits have decided to visit campuses on their own to be able to see the schools and get a feel for the towns, even if they cannot get tours or inside football facilities.

Geno VanDeMark (73) is a four-star offensive lineman out of  New Jersey.

That is what Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional offensive lineman Geno VanDeMark and running back Audric Estime will do with Michigan State on Saturday. The willingness to come to East Lansing on their own is one of the primary reasons there is a rising feeling among recruiting analysts the Spartans are the team to beat for both, despite a strong effort from in-state Rutgers and offers from many other schools.

“VanDeMark’s grandfather (Allan VanDeMark) played at Michigan State,” 247Sports analyst Brian Dohn said. “And Michigan State’s offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic recruited (St. Joseph product) Tommy Hatton to North Carolina, so he has a relationship with Geno’s offensive line coach. From there, the connection was made with Estime, who also sees Michigan State has produced some big running backs in the past.”

Estime is over 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds.

He enjoyed a breakout campaign as a sophomore, which included 100-yard games against strong programs like Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco Prep. As a junior, he furthered that, rushing for 1,190 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Audric Estime rushed for 1,190 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior.

“I’ve seen Audric Esitme play and be sensational,” Dohn said. “He has quickness through the hole and can break arm tackles. He is very physical. That all stood out. He just needs to be more consistent on a game-by-game basis. He’s an incredibly hard worker, a big, thick running back built to run between the tackles.”

It also does not hurt his cause to be running behind a 6-foot-4, 315-pound road-grader like VanDeMark.

“I really wish I would have gotten to see Geno during the spring to chart his development more,” Dohn said, “but he has a lot of good things working in his favor. I’m still torn between if he’s a guard or right tackle, but he’s strong and powerful.”

Helping Michigan State’s cause is Kevin Wigenton, their lone 2021 verbal from the state of New Jersey. Wigenton has done his part to try to add Estime and VanDeMark to the class.

“He’s a Jersey guy who is very active on social media and pays attention to the recruiting scene,” Dohn said of Wigenton.

Estime is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 4 overall prospect in New Jersey, VanDeMark comes in at No. 11.

Jersey sophomore offered

The Spartans are continuing their pursuit of Jersey’s best by extending an early offer to one of the state’s top young recruits, Pennsauken High’s Kahlil Ali, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound athlete who could play safety or receiver in college.

Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Maryland, Nebraska and more have offered.

Ali had 27 tackles, four interceptions and seven pass-breakups as a freshman. He also caught 16 passes on offense for 282 yards and three touchdowns.

More information

Geno VanDeMark profile

Audric Estime profile

Kahlil Ali 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 detroitnews.com.