While other kids were doing combine after combine and playing 7-on-7, Tre Person was training. That may have been part of the reason his recruitment did not take off until late in his senior year, but he is a better player for it and Michigan State’s class is better for it.
Person, a cornerback at Atlanta Westlake, is drawing comparisons to Darqueze Dennard and Trae Waynes because of his physical traits and under-the-radar recruiting.
“He wasn’t out there doing camps and combines, which can be important in getting a kid’s name out there,” Scout.com analyst Chad Simmons said. “He was still a very lean kid and was committed to Georgia Southern, but then in his senior year, guys started coming off the board, new offers started popping and once coaches got to go on the road and see him in December, January, they saw he was a legit 5-foot-11-plus, almost six-feet, and with the athleticism and frame to add weight.”
Person trained with Eagle Eye Sports and Elite Football Academy, which are both based in Atlanta and deal with top football prospects around the area that pit him against top-level talent.
“He came out and trained with us a couple times,” Derrick Tatum of Elite Football Academy said. “He’s an underdog type of player, a humble kid who fits perfectly at Michigan State. He wasn’t ranked as high off the bat, but he landed in the perfect spot for him.”
As a sophomore at one of those workouts, Person was pitted against Demetrius Monday, who at the time was one of the area’s best prospects and is now one of Kent State’s best players. That day was when Tatum first knew he was looking at something special.
“Tre didn’t back down and he made plays," Tatum said. "He was battling the whole day and he didn’t win every battle, but he kept fighting and going at it with Demetrius and that’s where I said, ‘Wow, this kid’s got it.’ I knew wherever he went, he was going to be a player. It just so happened Michigan State jumped on and they’ve been known to find kids like him who fit their system.”
Person played more at safety as a junior, another element why his recruitment starting more slowly. Another factor is Westlake’s roster is full of stars, which included several Southeastern Conference prospects and Division 1 prospects in their secondary. By the end of his senior season, however, he had established himself as a top-level recruit.
“He played safety all last year,” Tatum said. “Then this year, they made sure he locked up most teams’ best wide receivers and that’s with them having A.J. Terrell and three other guys in the secondary who had offers. In the playoffs, when Terrell got hurt, (Person is) the one who checked everyone’s top receivers and played well, very well.”
Detroit News columnists Bob Wojnowski and John Niyo, along with Michigan beat reporter Angelique Chengelis and Michigan State beat reporter Matt Charboneau talk high school football recruiting and breakdown the Wolverines' and Spartans' 2017 classes.
That is when more schools came in, including Michigan State. Person was intensely loyal to Georgia Southern and he made sure to let them know before he made any decisions public. He admits that was difficult, but he knew his home was in East Lansing.
“It was just the people,” Person said to Spartan Nation’s Hondo Carpenter. “When I got there, from the time we got there to the time we left, they treated us like family. Anything we needed, they never questioned me. Coach (Mark) Dantonio and his great staff were what I want to be a part of. Plus the education part, that degree holds so much weight.”
Person asked his mother, who accompanied him on the visit, what she thought. She gave her stamp of approval and he was a Spartan.
“I tell you this, he may end up being the best corner in 2017 class in Georgia, and I trained (four-star South Carolina commit) Jamyest Williams for the last four years," Tatum said. "But Tre’s upside is tremendous because he’s an unfinished product. I’m surprised more schools didn’t offer, but it’s a good thing for MSU.”
Another Dennard coming from Georgia?
“Absolutely,” Tatum said. “He’s already just as athletic as Dennard was out of high school and faster. He’s a 10.8 guy in the 100. He just needs to gain some weight but Michigan State has one of the best strength programs in the country and with Greg from Eagle Eye and I working with him the next five months, he will add 15 pounds and be ready to go.”
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.