Trieu: Spartan nation sold recruit Heyward on MSU

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News
Connor Heyward finished his senior season with 580 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He also ran for 261 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Connor Heyward’s father, the late Craig “Ironhead” Heyward was a bruising NFL fullback. His older brother Cameron is a defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers. His other brother Corey is a guard on the Georgia Tech basketball team.

With a family as diversely talented and athletically gifted as that, it should come as little surprise that Connor, a senior at Peachtree Ridge High in Suwanee, Georgia, has many talents on the football field. So much so that colleges recruiting him had many options as to where to potentially play him.

Michigan State will be the staff who will ultimately decide where he ends up as Heyward committed to the Spartans on Thursday night, becoming their 17th commitment in the 2017 class.

“They’re trying to figure what position they wanted me to play,” he told Spartan Nation’s Hondo Carpenter, “whether they wanted to recruit me as an outside linebacker, strong safety, running back or at wide receiver.”

Position was not a big factor in Heyward’s recruitment, people were.

Connor Heyward, son of ex-NFL player, commits to MSU

The amount to which the Spartan staff made their way to Suwanee throughout the process coupled with what he experience on his official visit led Heyward to East Lansing over offers from Georgia Tech, Arizona State, Iowa, Louisville, Maryland and his father’s alma mater Pittsburgh.

“It definitely means a lot and demonstrates how much they want me. He (area recruiter Dave Warner) has been down here three times this year,” he said. “They came back and offered me. Coach Dantonio is very family-oriented and cares about his players and coaches a lot. He doesn’t like change and is a very loyal guy.”

Scout’s southeast analyst Chad Simmons describes Heyward as a “football player,” one who may not blow away combine testing, but produces great results on the field at a variety of positions.

“He is a versatile athlete who could end up at multiple positions on the next level,” Simmons says. “Is he is a wide receiver? Is he is a safety? Could he grow into a linebacker? He is really growing, his frame has a ways to go to be filled out, and he has a lot of potential. He really knows the game. He is a very instinctive football player regardless of where he is lined up. I think he could end up as a linebacker or hybrid down the road.”

Of course, he has the bloodlines, as well.

“He is a tough, hard-nosed player who has football in his genes.”

Heyward finished his senior season with 580 receiving yards and six touchdowns, he also rushed for 261 yards and 10 TDs.

Official visits this weekend

This weekend is the last for official visits before the dead period begins. Official visits can begin again in mid-January, but Michigan State will use this opportunity to get a couple targets on campus.

A newer name on the radar is Dodge City (Kan.) Community College linebacker Marquise Blair. Blair (6-3, 190 pounds) was committed to Syracuse out of Wooster (Ohio) as a four-star prospect, but detoured to Dodge City, where he was a First Team All-Region selection after making 99 tackles (23 for loss) and recording three sacks and four interceptions.

Cleveland Heights (Ohio) four-star wide receiver Jaylen Harris is also expected on campus. He had an in-home with the Spartan staff last week. Tennessee, Penn State and Ohio State are also on his list.

More information

Connor Heyward profile

Marquise Blair profile

Jaylen Harris profile

Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for 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