Jack Camper is originally from Virginia, but now plays his high school football with some of the best in the country at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
For spring break, he and his family traveled more than 1,200 miles up to East Lansing, a drive he described as “awful.” But upon arriving at Michigan State for his second visit, Camper and his parents quickly forgot about what it took to get to campus, because everything they wanted in a university and a football program was right there.
With that, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound tight end committed to Mark Dantonio and his program, becoming the second commitment in the Spartans’ 2017 class.
“The first (visit) went very well,” Camper told Scout’s Dave Berk, “and I felt good and felt I was around genuine people that didn’t have to go out of their way to sell their university. So I had to bring my mother up here this time. It can be all good and well, but if your mother doesn’t like it, there is an issue. We got here and she told me she liked it.”
Co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Jim Bollman, in particular, made Camper’s family feel comfortable.
Camper, who had additional offers from Florida Atlantic and Louisville, and whose brother Blake plays at South Carolina, decided then to make it official that he would go north to play his college football.
“It was then I told (Coach Dantonio) I wanted to win a Big Ten championship, a national championship and play football at Michigan State,” Camper said. “I think it caught him off-guard and I feel he was excited by the news.”
Louisville offered Camper as a defensive end, the position he played primarily last season with highly-regarded Georgia signee Isaac Nauta and fellow Division-1 junior Tre McKitty at tight end. The Spartans recruited him as a tight end, a position at which they have regularly developed talent, and with the upside he has, Camper is an ideal fit.
“We had (Nauta and McKitty), and with Jack, the thought process was that he was too good a football player not to get on the field,” IMG head coach Kevin Wright said. “We moved him over to defensive end because we wanted to get him on the field and knew he could contribute there quicker. I don’t know how much defense he had even played and didn’t have the benefit of a preseason playing defensive end, but we got him on the field and he did a great job of improving and was an impact guy.”
Camper will play more tight end this year, but will keep his defensive duties, as well. Wright says he is one of the team’s best athletes, which is no small statement considering the talent assembled at the school.
“He has the best standing broad jump on the team, 10-foot-6, which is pretty good for anybody,” Wright said. “He’s a really good athlete and a kid who can continue to develop and I think he has a huge upside. Michigan State was really the first team to identify that. They came in, then tracked him throughout the season and were really his first Power 5 offer.”
“He plays with nice physicality and effort in the trenches,” Scout analyst Corey Bender says. “He possesses great size for both tight end and defensive end. His frame should have no problem packing on an additional 20 pounds. You also have to take notice of his motor and effort until the play is whistled dead. There's a lot to like with Jack.”
Michigan State is also recruiting Camper’s teammate, offensive lineman Robert Hainsey.
Spartans offer Ohio athlete
Mansfield (Ohio) Madison junior Tyrell Ajian camped at Michigan State last summer and has corresponded with the Spartans, and his offer came on Thursday during a visit to East Lansing.
"The MSU offer means a lot," he said. "Their tradition is tremendous.”
Ajian said he visit was a “great experience.”
Ajian was offered as an athlete. As a junior, he had 783 yards and 13 touchdowns on 34 receptions, rushed for six more scores and 551 yards, and chipped in 54 tackles and three interceptions (one touchdown) on defense.
He visits Kentucky, another one of his top schools, on Saturday.
Spartans host several with offers
In addition to offering Ajian, the Spartans had several big-time visitors on campus Thursday. Among them was Cincinnati Colerain cornerback Amir Riep and Marshall (Minn.) offensive tackle Blaise Andries. Riep reported having a “great time” on his trip.
The Spartans also hosted several prospects who do not have offers, but are on the radar, including Stockbridge (Ga.) running back Jalen Holston, Miami Carol City defensive back Naytron Culpepper, Pontiac Notre Dame offensive tackle Kyle Sassack, West Bloomfield running back Davion Johnson and more.
Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. 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.