Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio got his prize recruit in the 2019 class, getting news on Monday that five-star offensive tackle Devontae Dobbs of Belleville will be joining the Spartans’ program.
Dobbs is arguably the top tackle in the country and the top recruit for the Spartans in the last 20 years, joining such players as receiver Charles Rogers (No. 3 overall, 2000) and defensive tackle Malik McDowell earlier this decade.
MSU had some bad news earlier Sunday with Oak Park four-star quarterback Dwan Mathis announcing that the Spartans were no longer in his plans, flipping to Ohio State, but the news of Dobbs heading to East Lansing was reason for optimism.
Dobbs, 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds, earned a spot on The Detroit News Dream Team last fall after helping Belleville to a No. 1 ranking before an upset loss to Canton in the district finals. Dobbs is The Detroit News' No. 1-ranked player in the preseason.
He played with a torn labrum for the majority of the season and had surgery in early February. He is expected to be ready for training camp later this summer.
Dobbs received 42 offers and narrowed his field to eight this past May with Ohio State, USC, Auburn, Oklahoma, Georgia, Clemson and Florida State joining the Spartans.
Then, on Monday Dobbs announced his decision on Twitter, saying: “I am blessed and extremely excited to announce that I will be continuing my academic and football career at Michigan State University. All glory to God! I want to thank my family and coaches for supporting me all these years and I ask for your continued support. I have a very strong village and I love them.”
Despite the shoulder injury, Dobbs showed what he was capable of when he put on a crushing block, leading to Deon Selma’s 10-yard touchdown in overtime to highlight a 34-31 comeback victory over Brighton in the season opener at the Big House.
Belleville piled up nine more consecutive victories to push its record to 10-0 before the district title game loss to Canton.
It would be safe to say that Dobbs’ teammate Julian Barnett was MSU’s biggest recruiter, trying to reel Dobbs in with him to East Lansing after committing to MSU this past winter. Barnett, a four-star receiver, had 42 receptions for 836 yards and 13 TDs.
Belleville defensive back Davion Williams will be a freshman this season for the Spartans.
“They really don’t pressure me, just tell me you know you’re coming to (Michigan) State and I just say, ‘Yeah, yeah, all right.’” said Dobbs during an interview with The Detroit News back in April of Barnett and Williams, trying to persuade him into joining them in East Lansing.
“I’ve been going up there at Michigan State since I was in the seventh or eighth grade, really the first school I was introduced to. I really like the stability at Michigan State. They get players and really develop them, even if they’re not four or five-star guys. They just win games. Coach Dantonio does some unbelievable stuff with what he’s got, just a real good coach.”
Belleville coach Jermain Crowell praised Dobbs for his careful decision-making process.
“I liked the way he took his time, liked the fact that he let all the other schools who were recruiting him real hard know that he appreciated them recruiting him, just like how he went about his business in a class way,” Crowell told The News on Monday night. “He took his time, went to Auburn, went to USC and he was sure of his decision.
“Yes, Julian (Barnett) and Devontae are pretty close, but this is all about him and Michigan State. He’s comfortable with the coaches and it felt like home. It’s where he wants to be.”
And, how is Dobbs’ shoulder?
“He’s back running now,” Crowell said. “He’s taking it slow and he still has more therapy to do, but at least he’s back on the football field so I’m happy. He’ll be ready to go by the end of July.”