OLB Prospect Hearing from Spartans

Steve Gardiner on Michigan State linebackers coach Mike Tressel: "We've known each other for awhile now. I think he's a great coach, a great recruiter."

Michigan State has turned up the recruiting heat on Steve Gardiner, a speedy, three-star recruit from Dublin Coffman (Ohio). They offered him a scholarship two weeks ago and haven't let up.

"I'd say these past few weeks, Michigan State has recruited me hard," Gardiner said.

Because he plays basketball for the Shamrocks as well, Gardiner has had difficulty scheduling an official visit to Michigan State. But he's been to East Lansing three times to visit unofficially, and has a good relationship with the coaching staff, especially his recruiting coordinator, linebackers coach Mike Tressel.

"We've known each other for a while now," Gardiner said. "I think he's a great coach, a great recruiter."

Gardiner is also impressed with the job head coach Mark Dantonio has done turning around the image and play of the Spartans. "I've talked to him a lot. I'm impressed with all he's done in one year. He's got the team going in the right direction."

Standing 6-foot-1 and weighing 205 pounds, Gardiner projects as an outside linebacker. He self-reports a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash, his "best time" from last summer's camps.

Along with a steady regimen of weightlifting, Gardiner says playing basketball helps keep him in shape. "It keeps me conditioned, keeps me quick, keeps my agility up."

Gardiner says he has trimmed his list of favorite schools to five: Michigan State, Ohio State, West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Northwestern.

The Buckeyes offered Gardiner a gray-shirt, which means he would enroll in January, sit out the 2008 season (like a red-shirt would), and have his scholarship count against the 2009 class if he decided to play in Columbus. "Ohio State doesn't have very many scholarships to give," Gardiner said. "Not many seniors graduated this year."

Will he wait until National Signing Day to announce his decision?

"I hope I don't wait until then," he said. "Hopefully next week."

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