Clarkston four-star offensive tackle Garrett Dellinger announced on Wednesday afternoon that he will play college football at LSU, picking the Tigers over Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.
Dellinger is big and physical at 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds and is loaded with experience, starting since his freshman year when Clarkston won the Division 1 state championship. Dellinger is considered the No. 79 overall prospect in the country, according to the 247Sports composite, and No. 12 among offensive tackles.
“This process has been a very difficult process because I had four great universities to choose from,: Dellinger said during his video announcement. "All four of them, I really do like and I respect every one of them, but when it comes down to it, I’m going to be committed to the LSU Tigers, Go Tigers. I want to play teams like Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, I want to play those teams every day, not just watch them, I want to play them, and that’s the challenge that I want to take to make me grow as a person, make me grow as a player."
Dellinger had LSU high on his list when he took the trip to Baton Rouge back on Nov. 23 to watch the Tigers defeat Arkansas 56-20. LSU went on 15-0 record, including a 42-25 win over Clemson in the national championship game.
“I just had a different feeling around them than I did anywhere else," Dellinger said in the video. "(Offensive line) Coach (James) Cregg was a major factor in my decision. When I was on a visit to see how he interacted with the players, how he interacted with my family, how he interacted with other recruits. I could just tell that he was the coach that I wanted to play for. He’s a great person, great coach and the same thing with Coach O (head coach Ed Orgeron). Coach O, when I was talking with him, seeing his energy, he was talking to me about football and I just wanted to play right then and there.”
Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson had high praise for Dellinger — ranked No. 4 on The News list of top players in the state for the 2021 class — who also helped Clarkston reach the Division 1 state championship game his sophomore year, a 31-30 loss to Clinton Township Chippewa Valley.
“Garrett’s biggest attributes are his athleticism and intelligence,” Richardson said. “He has his own personal trainer who he trains with religiously. He has a great work ethic.”
Five of the top six players on The News Top 50 seniors are made up of linemen, including Clarkston four-star two-way lineman Rocco Spindler at No. 1. Belleville four-star Damon Payne is No. 2, Oak Park four-star Rayshaun Benny at No. 5 and Sterling Heights Stevenson four-star Giovanni El-Hadi at No. 6.
And, while Dellinger and El-Hadi (Michigan) have committed, Spindler, Payne and Benny are still deciding.
Spindler had planned to take his official visits in September before making his decision between LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State. His plans have now changed.
No doubt, Spindler understands why Dellinger picked LSU.
“They have a fantastic program, coming off a national championship which is something we look at,” Spindler said. “They have a great fan base, have a lot of support on and off campus there and have a great alumni.
“How they develop their guys are top notch. Coach Cregg, he’s the man. He won the Joe Moore award for the best offensive line unit in college football. He knows how to develop talent. He’s coached at the highest level, won a Super Bowl (with Denver Broncos in 2016 season, Super Bowl 50), won a national championship. We want to be developed on the field and off the field and he knows how to coach the players and especially to become great men.”
Spindler didn’t visit LSU, had planned to visit before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
“I was planning on taking an official, but then this outbreak happened,” Spindler said. “I probably won’t be able to take my official visits. I talked to a lot of coaches and they’re really striving to get me on campus, but their team comes first, and I totally understand.
“I don’t believe the NCAA will allow it for this year until things cool down, so I’ll have to use my best judgement and sit down with my family and coaches, do official Zoom call for the five schools, that’s the way it’s going to have to be.”
Spindler and Dellinger have been friends since their flag football days, talking about how they could one day play college football together too … if the school was right for each player’s academic and athletic needs.
So, when does Spindler plan on making his decision? And, where does Michigan sit since many recruiting experts have Spindler either going to Michigan or Notre Dame.
“I’m going to sit down with my parents and see what they have to say,” said Spindler whose father, Marc played his college ball at Pittsburgh before helping the Detroit Lions win their lone playoff win in the last 62 years during the 1991 season. “It’s very humbling and a blessing and I kind of want to wrap it up before the season so I can focus on helping my team win the state championship and be an All-Stater and All-American.
“Michigan is very high on my list, Notre Dame too. Everybody talks about the Notre Dame-Michigan matchup and for sure it’s there, but it’s tough to beat these other schools too. Michigan’s close to home, hometown hero thing with Clarkston just 45 minutes away. Almost everybody is a Michigan fan here in Clarkston, and it’s a tough school to get into, a lot of people’s dream school and one of the best business schools in the country so who wouldn’t want to be a part of that.
“Then, there’s Penn State and my dad’s side of the family is all right there in Scranton, Pennsylvania, my Uncle Jim is a huge Penn State fan, he’s my dad’s brother and he truly wants me to go to Penn State, I could see my grandmother too. LSU is on top of my list, coming off a national championship, Joe Moore award, Heisman Trophy winner (quarterback Joe Burrow), they won everything last year, and Ohio State is an NFL factory, but the biggest thing is how they develop guys on and off the field, how they can hook guys up with interviews to get jobs in the real world.”