Michigan State’s last three first-round selections were offensive tackle Jack Conklin and cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Darqueze Dennard, and none of the three were heavily recruited, highly ranked prospects coming out of high school.
Now at the end of this 2017 cycle, the Spartans are again looking to catch a player on the rise just before Signing Day and it may again come at the cornerback position as Chino Hills (Calif.) Ayala’s Emmanuel Flowers will be on his official visit to Michigan State this weekend.
Flowers was lightly recruited, lightly offered until late in the fall, when several major offers came through, including the Spartans and UCLA. Nearly 6-foot-2 with long arms and good cover skills, he fits the mold of what most schools are looking for now in a defensive back who can play out on an island.
The distance from home may not seem to favor the Spartans, but Flowers insists that will not be a factor for him as he has ties to the Midwest.
“I have family out there,” Flowers said. “I have family in Chicago, I have family by Michigan, so that means a lot. The long trip isn’t really anything to me.”
“Every year there are always those players that slip through the cracks and under the radar screen. This year, that player was Emmanuel Flowers,” Scout’s Greg Biggins said. “He's a long, rangy athlete and could flip between corner or safety depending on both need and where his body goes. If he bulks up and outgrows corner, he'll make a fine safety. If he can stay lean and quick and continue to improve his speed and quickness, he'll be that big corner a lot of colleges really like.”
Flowers is being recruited by the Spartans as a cornerback. Their aggressive style of defense asks the cornerbacks to play a good amount of man to man and that is music to the young defender’s ears.
“I love that,” Flowers said. “I like to go and just strap down receivers and hold them to no catches, so I would love that.”
After this visit, UCLA will be his final official visit before National Signing Day, and the Bruins may be the Spartans’ chief competition at this time, although he also took an official to Wyoming.
Whoever lands Flowers will get a player on the rise. That school will also have to wait to find out as he plans to take all the time necessary to come to a decision.
“After my last visit to UCLA, I'll have a few days to evaluate everyone and then can make my decision on Signing Day," Flowers said.
More visitors coming in
Another cornerback prospect, Atlanta Westlake’s Tre Person, will be in town this weekend, as well.
Person is similar to Flowers in that he has been fairly under the radar through his recruitment, but the Spartans offered the current Georgia Southern commitment last week and he quickly set up this visit to see the school.
He drew a Darqueze Dennard comparison from co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett, not just because the two are both from Georgia, but because Person plays with a similarly aggressive style.
“Michigan State is really known for their defense, so that’s what really attracts me to Michigan State; it’s just not the name,” Person told Spartan Nation’s Hondo Carpenter.
The Spartans currently have one cornerback committed, Josiah Scott, who is already enrolled, but adding another at the position is a priority for the finish of the class.
Virginia safety commit Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Temple wide receiver commit Raheem Blackshear are also expected to be in East Lansing for their official visits this weekend.
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.