Rocco Spindler and Garrett Dellinger went to the same elementary school, played flag football together in their pre-teen years, then joined forces to help Clarkston to consecutive Division 1 state championship game appearances their freshman and sophomore years.
Now, as two of the most sought-after recruits in the 2021 class, Spindler and Dellinger are entertaining the idea of playing together in college. But they insist that will only happen if it’s the right fit for each of them.
“We’re going to choose a school that fits best for us as an individual, and if that’s the same school then that’s amazing, but if not then that’s OK too,” said Dellinger who is 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds, and a four-star offensive tackle.
Dellinger narrowed his final four to Michigan, Ohio State, LSU and Penn State. He is ranked the No. 12 tackle nationally by the 247Sports Composite.
Spindler, a 6-4, 315-pound four-star offensive lineman, on Friday narrowed his choices to Michigan, Ohio State, LSU, Penn State and Notre Dame. Spindler is ranked the No. 2 guard in the country by the 247Sports Composite.
“My plan was to take my officials and then commit afterward, so I kind of put my commitment farther back, but I’ll probably commit before the season, maybe in a couple of months, maybe in a couple of weeks,” Dellinger said.
“You can’t go wrong with any of those schools, they all have great coaches, great facilities, great academics, so that’s what makes it hard to really choose one. It’s more about where do I feel at home and what feels best for me.”
While Dellinger is fond of Michigan and offensive line coach Ed Warinner, five recruiting experts at 247Sports, including Detroit News contributor Allen Trieu, predict Dellinger eventually will pick LSU.
“I went to the Arkansas game, was there for the weekend,” Dellinger said of a visit to LSU last fall. “Coach Cregg (offensive line coach James Cregg) is a great coach, he showed it with getting the Joe Moore Award for the (nation’s top) offensive line. Their facilities were outstanding. Their locker room with sleeping pods, that’s unbelievable. Their campus, their dorms and with the facility being so close together makes things easy.”
One thing is for sure: Dellinger and Spindler want to make sure their prep careers end the same way they started, and that’s with a state championship, especially after Clarkston failed to earn a state playoff appearance last year for the first time since 2002.
Clarkston finished 3-6 last season after losing a combined total of 13 games the previous seven years. The Wolves won state championships in 2014 (14-0) and 2017 (12-2), then lost to Chippewa Valley 31-30 in the 2018 state title game.
“Last year wasn’t the greatest year, but we had a lot of inexperienced players, first-year players, so we’re all going to be experienced this fall,” said Dellinger.
Dellinger has been working out a lot during the sports shutdown.
“Me and my little brother have been working out and just chilling with my family,” said Dellinger, whose younger brother, Cole, will be a sophomore offensive lineman for Clarkston this fall, already owning offers from Michigan and Michigan State.
Garrett Dellinger played both ways his sophomore year, but just offensive tackle his junior year after having labrum surgery after that sophomore season. He plans to join Spindler on both sides of the ball this fall.
“I’ll be playing both ways,” Dellinger said. “I’m being recruited for offensive tackle. I find defense more fun, but last year I just focused on offense.”
Clarkston should be in a battle with West Bloomfield for the OAA Red title with multiple Division 1 recruits – such as senior-to-be tight end Blake Kosin, a Northern Illinois commit, and junior quarterback Mike DePillo, who has an offer from Central Michigan – joining Spindler and the Dellinger brothers.
“We should be real good,” said Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson, who sits No. 23 on the state’s all-time win list with a 259-95 record, more than likely climbing into the top 20 this fall with multiple coaches directly ahead of him retired. “We have nine of 11 starters on both sides of the ball back, all those freshmen and sophomores that were playing for us are a year older, and Rocco and Delly had great offseasons. I just hope we have a season.
“I hear that we’ll play, no problem; I hear that we won’t have a season. I guess that’s part of this whole deal – there’s such uncertainty with it. We’ll have to wait and see.”