Trieu: Camps were gateways to Khaleefah’s MSU scholarship
Scholarship offers are being extended earlier and earlier in the recruiting process, but as this month of June has shown, there is still room for a prospect going into his senior year to earn new offers at college camps.
Michigan State is a fine example of that. In the last two classes, the Spartans had more early commitments than in previous classes under Mark Dantonio, but have continued to emphasize evaluating talent at camps, a strategy that has worked well for them in the past. The Spartans extended several new offers in the last week following several of their summer camps, and one, Dearborn High offensive tackle Mustafa Khaleefah, jumped on the offer Thursday, committing to the staff just days after earning the offer.
Unlike the other prospects who received offers this week, Khaleefah, an athletic 6-foot-6, 290-pound recruit, camped twice to earn that opportunity, first at the June 15 lineman camp and then again at the Spartan Elite Camp on June 18.
"He's very happy," Dearborn recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Alex Duda said. "He's on cloud nine right now. Michigan State has been his dream school since day one. He said day one, ‘I've dreamt about going to Michigan State,’ and his dream came true."
Khaleefah earned earlier offers from Mid-American Conference programs like Buffalo, Kent State, Miami (Ohio) and more. Recently, however, new programs like Cincinnati and Syracuse offered. That mirrored the progression he made as a player after working many hours on his craft. That improvement and the desire to continue to improve were big parts of why the Spartans wanted him in their program.
"He's a very dedicated, hard-working individual,” Duda said. “The one thing that sets him apart is his passion for the game. He strives to the best. He's a very competitive individual."
That was evident when he started as a sophomore, but even more evident when, after that season, he hit the weight room and gained 20 pounds while adding more speed and agility. That was when the coaches at Dearborn knew they had a big-time player on their hands – a player they know will make a similar impact in East Lansing.
"Michigan State is getting a passionate, hard-working, dedicated kid,” Duda said. “A lot of the feedback I got from the Michigan State coaches was that his coachability was through the roof. He was learning new schemes at Michigan State and (offensive line coach Mark Staten) said that was a big factor in them offering him."
Other new offers extended
Two of the Midwest's top wide receivers, Iowa City West's Oliver Martin and Fort Wayne (Ind.) Snider's Mac Hippenhammer, were offered by the Spartans this week. MSU is considered to be a top contender for both, especially Martin, who has played travel baseball and football with Spartan quarterback commit Rocky Lombardi.
Two players in Ohio who were standouts at the June 18 elite camp, Westerville South defensive back Dominique Long and Marion Local rising junior offensive lineman John Dirksen, were also offered.
Two of the state's top rising juniors, Farmington Hills Harrison linebacker Ovie Oghoufo and Dearborn Divine Child defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, received offers on Wednesday.
Hutchinson, whose father Chris Hutchinson played at Michigan, visited East Lansing on Wednesday with teammate Theo Day, a class of 2018 quarterback who has a Kentucky offer and was a top performer at the June 18 camp as well.
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.