The top 15 players on the Detroit News Blue Chip list talk about their best and worst recruiting experiences and more in this question-and-answer with David Goricki.
1. Kalon Gervin
Detroit Cass Tech, CB, 5-11, 184
College: Michigan State
Best recruiting experience: Just going to all the different schools. I went to Alabama, Oregon, had the chance to see some great universities, great football programs with traditions.
Worst recruiting experience: Coaches calling me up a lot, wanting to see what I was thinking, telling me they were interested in me.
Favorite thing about Michigan State? I felt super comfortable with the coaches. I had been going there for so long and so many times before so it felt like home. Everything is just high-tech, facilities are great.
Why not Michigan? They kind of fell off after I committed to Notre Dame, then after I decommitted (from Notre Dame) they didn’t come back and recruit me again.
2. Aidan Hutchinson
Dearborn Divine Child, DE, 6-5, 255
Best recruiting experience: My greatest memory of the recruiting process was receiving my first offer from LSU during my sophomore year. I was completely surprised when they called, and I was so grateful when I found out they were offering me a scholarship.
Worst recruiting experience: I didn’t have many bad experiences. I just wasn’t a big fan of the process because it was extremely exhausting and overwhelming. Receiving all of that attention from many different coaches was cool and all, but it became tiring and I wanted to get it over with as soon as possible.
Favorite thing about Michigan: Michigan has always been my home and I’ve wanted to go there for as long as I can remember.
Why not Michigan State?It would be weird choosing MSU over Michigan because I have been rooting against them my entire life. I am confident I made the right decision for me and I can’t wait to get started.
3. Jalen Mayfield
Grand Rapids Catholic Central, DE, 6-5, 270
Best recruiting experience: Just getting out to see the different places. My family doesn’t travel a lot – so getting out to see different colleges and different cities. I think that was probably the most enjoyable time, getting to spend quality time with my family at places like Iowa, Michigan State, Michigan, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. It was great.
Worst recruiting experience: Calling all the coaches to tell them I chose another school because I know that they put a lot of time and effort into me, so that was kind of hard for me.
Favorite thing about Michigan? I chose Michigan because of the relationship with the coaches and how comfortable I felt there. I just think the people that are there and the people they are trying to bring into the school are just incredible, so I really look forward to playing for Coach Harbaugh and Coach Drevno.
Why not Michigan State? I feel they have a great program, just didn’t feel as at home as I did at Michigan. I connected with the coaches, but not on the level as with Coach Harbaugh and his staff, and that was the deciding factor.
4. Tyrone Sampson
Detroit East English, C, 6-3, 315
Best recruiting experience: Just going to places with my family – traveled to Alabama and Georgia, went to Auburn, been to a lot of places.
Worst recruiting experience: I never went to any place that was boring. Everything was pretty cool. Maybe having college coaches call all the time got tiring.
Why not Michigan? Everybody asked me why they didn’t like me, but they never recruited me, never heard from them.
Why not Michigan State? Michigan State wanted me to play on the defensive line, but I wanted to play on the offensive line.
5. Marquan McCall
Oak Park, G/DT, 6-4, 330
Best recruiting experience: The exciting part was just traveling. I had never been out of the city, and for me to just travel around was great. They welcomed me at places and I really felt appreciated.
Worst recruiting experience: Being in the car for so long (traveling). Also, I got a lot of calls from coaches, but if they call me I’m not going to lie or anything – just give them my honest opinion.
Favorite thing about Kentucky: I just love Kentucky. I can’t wait to get down there. Every time I got down there, they show love and the fans are amazing. Kentucky kept showing me love, kept hitting me up once I had my surgery (on knee during junior year) and no other schools stayed in contact with me.
Why not Michigan? After they recruited me they didn’t talk to me as much so it was like, “Where do we stand now?” They offered me my sophomore year.
Why not Michigan State? They offered me my 10th grade year, as well, but it was just like Michigan – after they offered me they stopped texting me. And there’s been a lot of trouble up there, and I wanted to get out of the city anyway.
6. Ryan Hayes
Traverse City West, TE/DE, 6-7, 265
Best recruiting experience: It was cool just having everyone have interest and tell me I have potential if I just kept working hard. I got the chance to see everything and go places, so it was pretty fun. I went to Notre Dame, Michigan State, places like that, and enjoyed it.
Worst recruiting experience: Just getting random texts from people wanting to talk to me about things, not coaches since I liked talking to them, just random texts wanting interviews.
Favorite thing about Michigan? I hadn’t been to Ann Arbor before, but when I took my visit I just fell in love with it and knew I wanted to go there. I like to play tight end the most and Michigan uses them a lot. They love their tight ends there and it just seemed like a good fit.
Why not Michigan State? They have a great program, I liked everything there, but I just felt more comfortable at Michigan and I like Ann Arbor better than East Lansing too.
7. Ovie Oghoufo
Farmington Hills Harrison, LB, 6-3, 210
College: Notre Dame
Best recruiting experience: My favorite recruiting memory was when I got my first scholarship offer.
Worst recruiting experience: My least favorite thing about the recruiting process was the stress on parents always traveling and taking me to too many places.
Favorite thing about Notre Dame: Notre Dame was just the best fit for me, where I can exceed academically as well as athletically. I wanted to early enroll to get a jump on classes and start workouts.
Why not Michigan? It wasn’t the perfect fit for me.
Why not Michigan State? Same thing, not the perfect fit.
8. Kolin Demens
Detroit Country Day, LB, 6-1, 210
Best recruiting experience: Early on in my recruitment when I was really young and to have coaches come talk to me, that was probably the most exciting part. It was my sophomore year, right after the playoffs, and I had Coach Don Brown (Michigan) and Coach (Brad) Salem from Michigan State. Also talking to big schools like Ohio State. And, Michigan and Michigan State offered at that time.
Worst recruiting experience: It would probably be having the early signing period in December, and I say that because I think it messed a lot of kids up since schools had their classes filled up already. (Demens was committed at UCLA before head coach Jim Mora got fired.)
Why not Michigan? I wouldn’t mind going there, but at the same time I’d like to get out of Michigan. Michigan didn’t come on late, though.
Why not Michigan State? Same as Michigan.
9. La’Darius Jefferson
Muskegon, ATH/QB/RB, 6-2, 215
College: Michigan State
Best recruiting experience: Making my family proud, building relationships with coaches. I also think the trip that stood out was when I went to Michigan State Dec. 8 – that’s when I committed. That’s when I saw my family smile and I knew in my heart that was the place I wanted to be and the place they wanted me to be.
Worst recruiting experience: The thing that I hate is how coaches can leave and take money, just up and leave without sitting out a year, but players have to sit out a year. (Jefferson was committed at Central Florida before head coach Scott Frost left for Nebraska.)
Favorite thing about Michigan State: The biggest thing about my decision to go to Michigan State is I know I’m going somewhere where I can compete and be the best football player I can be, and get my education.
Why not Michigan? Michigan never offered me. I never had any contact with Michigan. I was never a fan of Michigan and probably would have never gone to Michigan anyway. Kudos to what Coach Harbaugh is doing. No disrespect to Michigan; they’ve got a good program with good people.
10. Theo Day
Dearborn Divine Child, QB, 6-5, 210
College: Michigan State
Best recruiting experience: I didn’t really visit a whole lot of places so I didn’t have any crazy trip that was fun to go on. Really, being able to pick Michigan State so I could focus on my senior year, that was probably the best part.
Worst recruiting experience: Probably to call the coaches and tell them I was going to Michigan State.
Favorite thing about Michigan State: The coaches were great and welcomed me, made me feel like I was part of the family. I think the offense just fits me as a quarterback, and as a quarterback you have to know a lot of information about everything that’s going on around you.
Why not Michigan? They never offered, were never in the picture.
11. Elijah Collins
U-D Jesuit, RB, 6-1, 200
College: Michigan State
Best recruiting experience: Just taking visits, getting to see schools and building relationships with coaches. I remember going to Iowa, Wisconsin and Notre Dame – those schools kind of stood out more than the others.
Worst recruiting experience: I would say the dead period because it seemed like I wasn’t getting recruited anymore, but that’s how it’s supposed to be.
Favorite thing about Michigan State: It’s a great school and when I talked to Coach Dantonio and Coach Warner they made me feel welcome and it felt like the place I needed to be.
Why not Michigan? They really didn’t recruit me.
12. DeAndre Square
Detroit Cass Tech, LB, 6-2, 210
Best recruiting experience: I felt wanted and needed by the coaches. I had a great trip to Kentucky, hooked up with some players, got a chance to talk with players and bond with them last summer.
Worst recruiting experience: The nagging, having coaches constantly calling you to see what you wanted to do, especially since you had other things you had to do too.
Favorite thing about Kentucky: I feel like Kentucky is a program on the rise. The coaches made me feel welcome and I feel it’s a place I have the chance to play right away.
Why not Michigan? Michigan didn’t offer me.
Why not Michigan State? Michigan State offered me the summer heading into my junior year, but I just wanted to play out of state.
13. Reggie Pearson
River Rouge, S, 5-11, 190
Best recruiting experience: Taking trips and visiting schools and building relationships with coaches.
Worst recruiting experience: Probably telling coaches I wasn’t going to play for them.
Favorite thing about Wisconsin: The people there are just amazing and so helpful and will do anything to make sure you succeed. Some schools overlook the education part, but I feel like Wisconsin is the No. 1 academic school in the Big Ten. I just love the coaches and the players are a bunch of great guys.
Why not Michigan? I didn’t get an offer, but it just wasn’t for me anyway.
Why not Michigan State? I was always a Michigan State fan and they offered me. But when I got into the recruiting process I started to see my life in the next four years and didn’t like it at all, like how they’re having serious problems with players. That’s something I’m not into and don’t agree with and I try to get myself away from any negative things.
14. Mike Furtney
Milan, T, 6-5, 290
Best recruiting experience: My dad and I are already close but being able to go on all those trips and getting the opportunity to see all the schools with him was awesome, great bonding opportunity. It was almost like a surreal experience where you’re going to colleges and they want you to play at their school, especially for me coming from a small town. It was an amazing experience, definitely life-changing for sure. I went to Wisconsin, Iowa State and Minnesota and I’m a person who likes to travel and see new places so it was cool.
Worst recruiting experience: Definitely the hardest part was telling coaches no because I feel like I genuinely had a really great recruiting process, had a lot of great coaches involved in it, and they deserved the respect of me giving them a call and telling them I was going in another direction.
Favorite thing about Wisconsin: I just feel like I’m going to the best O-lineman university in the nation. I’ll be in with an amazing coaching staff, an amazing atmosphere and a great playing environment.
Why not Michigan? They never offered me.
Why not Michigan State? Michigan State offered, but I connected with Wisconsin more, already bonded with the players.
15. Taj Mustapha
West Bloomfield, WR, 6-2, 185
Best recruiting experience: I would say my first offer from Toledo, that was my biggest thing, and it took place during the middle of my junior season.
Worst recruiting experience: I don’t think I had a bad experience.
Favorite thing about Wisconsin: I just felt like I was at home, really reminds me of being at home with how the coaches treat you, and the community is good too.
Why not Michigan? Michigan offered, but I just felt more comfortable at Wisconsin.
Why not Michigan State? I grew up watching those guys and was always a Michigan State fan over Michigan. Michigan State offered me too, but I just felt more comfortable at Wisconsin.