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. Devontae Dobbs
Belleville, T, 6-4, 300
College: Michigan State
Best recruiting experience: It was a fun process, a long process, but at the end of the day I got to go wherever I wanted to go in the country and I chose Michigan State and I love it there. It was a lot of fun to be able to take my family to the universities on my visits, having a good time with them.
Worst recruiting experience: Probably all the social media stuff, all the negative stuff with people getting down on players.
Favorite thing about Michigan State: It feels like a second home at Michigan State. It doesn’t feel like I’m out of place when I get there. I like the people that are there. So many people are similar to me and do similar things that I do. It’s basically in my backyard so my family and friends can watch me play. And I love the coaches and how they develop players.
Why not Michigan: It’s just wasn’t the right place for me.
2. Logan Brown
East Kentwood, T, 6-7, 310
Best recruiting experience: Getting to know some of the people and making so many relationships. I remember a guy, Al Netter, who was a GA at Michigan and now he’s the offensive line coach at Yale. I thought that was cool because I built that relationship with him. I knew him before I was anybody – it was probably my sophomore year. It’s fun to build a relationship that could last a lifetime.
Worst recruiting experience: Probably not being home every weekend.
Favorite thing about Wisconsin: I like Coach (Joe) Rudolph (offensive coordinator/OL coach). I really like the way he coaches, more of a breakdown and let me teach you how to do this to get down a specific path. I like the coaches, the academics and the people are very welcoming there.
Why not Michigan: I don’t like bashing other schools. It just wasn’t a fit for me, definitely. They offered me my sophomore year.
Why not Michigan State: They offered late so I didn’t get time to build that relationship. They offered me by junior year, but I had already committed.
3. Julian Barnett
Belleville, WR/CB, 6-2, 190
College: Michigan State
Best recruiting experience: The best part of the recruiting process was traveling all around the state, seeing new things. It made me think of how life would be somewhere else. Every time you meet somebody that’s a new opportunity right in front of you.
Worst recruiting experience: It took so long, but really though, I didn’t have a bad recruiting experience.
Favorite thing about Michigan State: I chose Michigan State because I felt it was the best place for me, knowing I could play right away because they play freshmen. I just got good vibes from the coaches and players. I have a family member, (former Belleville cornerback), my cousin Davion Williams, on the team.
Why not Michigan: The No. 1 player in the state was at my school, Devontae Dobbs, and they recruited him and they did not recruit me, and I was the No. 1 skilled player in the state. I felt kind of disrespected that they didn’t recruit me until later in the recruiting process, which was after I committed. They offered Devontae his freshman or sophomore year, didn’t offer me until my junior year, and by then I had committed to Michigan State. I never had a chance to build a relationship with them.
John Niyo and Dave Goricki take a look at National Signing Day for college football with Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher, Cass Tech defensive end James Ester and 247Sports analyst Allen Trieu. The Detroit News
4. Anthony Bradford
Muskegon, T, 6-5, 360
Best recruiting experience: Just taking all the trips, going to the different schools, having places to choose from, talking to the coaches and having them analyze your play, giving you feedback. I (traveled) during spring break in 2018, went to Georgia, which was a good place to visit, great scenery in Athens. We also went to Alabama, watched them practice and talked to coaches, that was good.
Worst recruiting experience: Probably the hassles, responding to calls and making time to do recruiting stuff like get to camps. Also, talking to various coaches throughout the day, having to get out of class sometimes to do it.
Favorite thing about LSU: It felt like home right when my mom and I hopped off the plane. I love Coach Orgeron, Coach Cregg (offensive line coach), the players are pretty cool and I wanted to play in the SEC all along.
Why not Michigan: We used to always go to Michigan spring games and practices and Michigan would have been in my top five if they offered me. It was kind of surprising that they never pulled the trigger since I had been there so many times.
Why not Michigan State: I just felt Michigan State was too close to home.
5. Mazi Smith
East Kentwood, DT, 6-3, 310
College: Michigan (enrolled)
Best recruiting experience: I didn’t really like it at all. I guess I liked the visits, that was probably the best part.
Worst recruiting experience: Trying to sift through who was genuine, trying to find out who had your best interest and who was just talking stuff. It was difficult because to this day you still don’t know; all you can do is go with your gut.
Favorite thing about Michigan: I like their coaching staff. I like their weight and conditioning staff. I can see myself really doing well at Michigan. It was just about building relationships and seeing how well you fit in, and I fit in well there.
Why not Michigan State: I like Coach Dantonio and all, feel they run a solid football program over there, but it wasn’t for me. They offered me before Michigan did. I have relatives that played there, my cousin T.J. Duckett.
6. Lance Dixon
West Bloomfield, LB, 6-3, 215
College: Penn State (enrolled)
Best recruiting experience: Traveling was definitely the best experience, loved traveling all over. I went to Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Iowa and Iowa State. When I went to Ohio State, they played Penn State and it was a good atmosphere, the crowd really got them back in the game, came back from a couple of touchdowns to win.
Worst recruiting experience: Probably just having my phone blow up every day, really every minute of every day, getting pulled out of class to talk to coaches and stuff.
Favorite thing about Penn State: It’s a family atmosphere. They have a great program and I hope to help them continue that the next four years. I enrolled early because I wanted to have a better opportunity to play early.
Why not Michigan: I just didn’t feel that the love that they showed was real. I just felt more love at Penn State.
Why not Michigan State: I just felt like Penn State was better for me.
7. Marvin Grant
Detroit King, S, 6-2, 200
Best recruiting experience: It was fun receiving the offers, good to know what colleges wanted you, how the fans reacted, showing they wanted you to go there.
Worst recruiting experience: The end, where you had to pick the school. It was very tough because when you think you got your school set, then another school comes and tries to persuade you, just makes it harder than it’s supposed to be. Really, it was between Purdue and Kentucky and then Minnesota came in late.
Favorite thing about Purdue: I like what Coach (Jeff) Brohm has going on and I feel like with the right players he can do something big there. I like how he’s changed the program around. I like how he told me he’s going to play young players. He said you’re going to play if you’re the best player at that position. I went to the Ohio State game (Purdue win) and the crowd was alive, atmosphere was great. When we first got there, Coach walked around and showed us everything. Then, we got with the players before the game and they were all hyped and ready to play. They came out there and played hard. It was a great experience.
Why not Michigan: I didn’t feel like it was home for me, felt like the love wasn’t real.
Why not Michigan State: They have a good program. I really didn’t have a relationship with them after Coach Blackwell got fired. They didn’t offer me, wanted me to play linebacker, like Ohio State and Penn State, and I told them I wanted to play safety.
8. Jaren Mangham
Detroit Cass Tech, RB, 6-2, 210
College: Colorado (enrolled)
Best recruiting experience: My favorite thing was visiting all the different places and building all these new relationships.
Worst recruiting experience: I really didn’t have one.
Favorite thing about Colorado: I just felt it was the best fit for me, feeling it will get me to where I want to be.
Why not Michigan: Michigan was a no.
Why not Michigan State: I never had an issue with Michigan State. I just wanted to experience something different.
9. Ruke Orhorhoro
River Rouge, DE, 6-5, 270
College: Clemson (enrolled)
Best recruiting experience: I liked going on visits. I liked traveling. I loved seeing different places, seeing different atmospheres and coaches. I loved going on official visits and talking to coaches because you never know what a coach can do for you along the line. So that’s why I tell people all the time, “Don’t burn bridges.” A lot of people don’t like recruiting because it stresses them out, but it’s not really stressful. You just have to know what you like and what you don’t like. Let’s say I don’t like this style of play, then maybe I’m not going to look at this school, but you can’t be picky all the time either.
Worst recruiting experience: The fake love, all the lies. With me, I’m old enough to where you can keep it real, if you don’t want me just tell me.
Favorite thing about Clemson: I love the coaches and players there. It’s a national championship team and I feel like it’s a great fit. I enrolled early to get a head start, so I can develop into the system and have a higher chance of playing.
Why not Michigan: I didn’t like the vibe from the school or the coaches. Plus, my cousin Mario Ojemudia just went there and I want to start my own path.
Why not Michigan State: I didn’t like the way they recruited me, showed fake love. I visited there like four or five times. I had just come up for a visit, just started my recruitment, and all of the coaches talked to me. Coach Dantonio called me and said come back, we want to offer you, so I came back and there was no offer. He said come to practice, so my head coach (Corey Parker) and I went, but left with no offer. I came up there two more times, one for spring practice, and didn’t even talk to the head coach. Then, after my recruitment started to pick up more – got an offer from Penn State – that’s when they came to my school and offered me. But I didn’t like that; felt they just offered me based on the offers that I had recently got.
10. Tre Mosley
West Bloomfield, WR, 6-2, 180
College: Michigan State (enrolled)
Best recruiting experience: I would say taking my visits to all the schools with my family, getting the chance to see all the atmospheres, meeting the coaches and the players. We went to Minnesota, the weather there was pretty cold, different from like Missouri where it was warm, or Cincinnati where it was closer to Michigan’s weather.
Worst recruiting experience: Sometimes coaches text you a lot. You could be doing your homework and four or five coaches are texting your phone. It could get crazy.
Favorite thing about Michigan State: It’s all love, there’s nothing fake. They have great coaches and they’ll develop me. I have great relationships with the current players and my class, just feels like home. And the coaches will support you and do what’s best for you, find help in the classroom if I need tutors.
Why not Michigan: Michigan offered, but Michigan State is just a better fit for me.
11. David Ellis
Chippewa Valley, WR/CB, 6-1, 195
Best recruiting experience: Just knowing what my decision was, committing to Indiana. I originally committed to Central, then switched my commitment in October to Indiana. I just felt like Indiana had more to offer.
Worst recruiting experience: Trying to tell the difference between what the real offers were and the fake offers – who really wanted you. It’s almost like with friends, it takes time to find out who your real friends are and who is fake. Honestly, you just have to build relationships and go from there.
Favorite thing about Indiana: My first time I visited Indiana I didn’t even have an offer there. I was on a recruiting trip with Rising Stars, but I knew that’s where I wanted to go. Once I got the offer I was already committed to Central, but I ended up taking an official visit to Indiana and fell in love with it – everything, the coaches, the players and the atmosphere.
Why not Michigan: They never reached out to me so there wasn’t anything there.
Why not Michigan State: There was always a little bit of interest, but I never really got offered by Michigan State until the day before (the start of the early signing period), so I never had an opportunity to see what that was about. Coach Dantonio ended up calling my dad’s phone while he was at work and extended the offer. I ended up calling him, but obviously it was too late.
12. Adam Berghorst
Zeeland East, T/DE, 6-7, 245
College: Michigan State
Best recruiting experience: Going on the visits and seeing everybody’s facilities and meeting all the coaches. It’s really cool to develop relationships and see how every college did it different, to see the nice facilities and all the money that goes into football.
Worst recruiting experience: With me being a three-sport athlete recruiting took a lot of time. Each night I had to call a bunch of coaches, which was a blessing, but it just took a lot of time and at the end it was stressful picking a college.
Favorite thing about Michigan State: For sure, the coaches. All of them are great guys, great family guys and the relationships there were the best. They’re talking to me about playing defensive end at the start. I could move to the offensive side in the interior in my later years, but defensive end to start.
Why not Michigan: Michigan is a great program, as well, but I just felt the relationships at Michigan State were a little better. They (MSU) were the first program to ever recruit me for baseball and that was way before football for me started, and it’s closer to home and I’m going to play baseball too.
13. Marcel Lewis
Chippewa Valley, LB, 6-1, 220
College: Michigan State
Best recruiting experience: I would say going to different places, seeing the world. I think that’s the big part of recruiting, seeing different places and how the schools are.
Worst recruiting experience: At a couple of places I went to I couldn’t tell if the coaches were genuine or not, and that’s something I’m big on. You want to know if the coaches are honest with you.
Favorite thing about Michigan State: I loved the coaches at Michigan State, Coach D (Mark Dantonio) and all of the coaches. Coach (Mike) Tressel, Coach (Brad) Salem – those are my guys and I love them to death. I want to focus on business and they have a really good business school. I know a lot of the players so it just made sense.
Why not Michigan: I was offered by Michigan, but I don’t like Michigan. I feel some of their coaches aren’t genuine. They don’t try to actually get to know the kid and get to know his family.
14. Rod Heard
Farmington Hills Harrison, RB/CB, 5-10, 170
College: Northwestern (enrolled)
Best recruiting experience: My favorite thing about the recruiting process was just seeing new places, like being able to go around the country and look at different schools and experience new cultures and different people. Of course, it’s a good feeling when coaches acknowledge you and treat you special.
Worst recruiting experience: It would probably be texting multiple coaches every single day. When you get to where you have double digit coaches and multiple coaches from the same coaching staff texting you every single day, it becomes time consuming and you don’t want to not respond because it kind of looks bad. So it’s very time consuming to text back all these different coaches and keep up with all of the conversations. When I committed and pretty much told all the coaches that I was committing and I’m not really looking anywhere else and I didn’t have to text anymore I was very happy. It was just too much.
Favorite thing about Northwestern: I decided to come to Northwestern because I felt the coaching staff was great and it had more of family feel here than a lot of other schools I visited. Coach Fitz (head coach Pat Fitzgerald) is a great head coach and they have a new football facility ($270 million Walter Athletics Center). It’s crazy, has everything in it. It’s a great football program, competing for Big Ten championships, it’s an elite school academically so it’s really the best of both worlds.
Why not Michigan: I just really never liked Michigan that much. I know some players there and it doesn’t seem like it’s fun. I didn’t feel like if I went to Michigan that I would be somebody to stand out. I just felt like Northwestern fit me better. I think a lot of other guys from Michigan in my class kind of have the same viewpoint of Michigan too. It’s just something about it.
Why not Michigan State: Michigan State never offered me. They have a lot of young DBs so I really never expected them to offer me.
15. Josh DeBerry
Warren De La Salle, CB, 6-1, 175
College: Boston College
Best recruiting experience: I guess just having your skill recognized by some people around the country, just them showing interest in you.
Worst recruiting experience: You just realize that it’s a business and some of the coaches aren’t genuine. You have to realize that as soon as you can to find out who is real and who is not.
Favorite thing about Boston College: They showed me the most interest. They were the most genuine, showed they really care. It’s a place I know I can come in and play right away and play against some of the best talent in the country in the ACC.
Why not Michigan: They showed interest, but they didn’t offer so it’s their loss. I know I have the talent to go there.
Why not Michigan State: They didn’t offer. I wasn’t going to reach out to them and they didn’t reach out to me.