GSN in concert with MichiganVarsity.com, takes a look at the top players in the state of Michigan and which ones Michigan State is likely to target.
10 Zach Matthias, OT, 6-foot-6, 305-pounds, Hemlock.
Offensive linemen don't usually draw headlines but Matthias is an unusal target who's drawing interest from major colleges across the nation, according to Hemlock coach Adam Clark.
"Currently Michigan is coming at him the heaviest," Clark reported, "Michigan State is there as well, along with Iowa, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Duke, Georgia Tech, Alabama, UConn, Illinois, Indiana and we have recently received inquiries from as far south as Florida, Florida State, and Clemson."
With Michigan being the leader, MSU must get in on this franchise tackle who could lead MSU to the Rose Bowl appearance Mark Dantonio point toward.
9. Teric Jones, RB, 5-foot-10, 195-pounds, Detroit Cass Tech.
One of a group of the top running backs in the state, Jones really emerged with a standout performance in the US Army All American Bowl Combine. After posting a 4.37-40 in San Antonio, Jones may have the most upside of any back in the group. That kind of talent will bring tons of suitors. He has already been offered by Michigan, but is getting interest from Michigan State, Alabama, Penn State, Iowa, Central Florida and Notre Dame. He says he's faster than UM commit Boubacar Cissoko. Now that's fast.
8. Hersey Jackson, RB, 6-foot-1, 215, Allendale.
Jackson is a more physical power back in the mold of former MSU back Jehuu Caulcrick. Jackson likes the Spartans and seems to be leaning towards staying in-state. "Wisconsin is sending me stuff. I'm getting letters from Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Indiana, and some stuff from Ohio State," Jackson told IrishEyes.com.
A serious student, Jackson says academics is extremly important to him, another factor is how much they're committed to running the ball. "I went to Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State for one-day camps this summer. I like how they all run their programs, and the way they have their players in their weight program in the summer."
7. Reid Fragel, TE, 6-foot-7, 255-pounds Grosse Pointe South.
Fragel likes Michigan State, but has visited Notre Dame four times and is receiving strong interest from the Irish. He visited Notre Dame with teammate Jimmy Saros and said he was "blown away" by the history and atmsophere of the place. Fragel has offers from Cincinnati and Miami (OH) but lists Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa and Purdue as his favorites.
6. Chris Norman, LB, 6-foot-2, 220-pounds, Detroit Rennaisance.
Give Michigan State a ton of credit for getting an early commitment from one of the top players in State, but their work isn't over. Early commitments continue to get phone calls from other colleges right up to signing day and it appears that new Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is among those who doesn't view a commitment as binding until the LOI comes in. Still, Norman told GSN he intends to stay strong and that he is truly committed to State. We hope that's the case because he could give MSU the kind of Percy Snow type linebacker they crave.
5. James Jackson, WR, 5-foot-11, 170-pounds, Grand Ledge.
One of the true speed burners of the 2009 class, Jackson is a true playmaker, a game breaker who can turn on the jets and turn a routine slant or dig route into a home run. But even more impressive, Jackson turns down most interview requests because he just wants to be part of the team said his coach Matt Bird. "He doesn't want to separate himself from the rest of the team," Bird told GoBlueWolverine.com.
"He always wants to put the team first. They've asked for him to do radio interviews and he declines, he's just a very humble kid." Already holding a UM offer, Jackson is one of the few juniors with a four-star rating and rising.
4. Dion Sims, WR/TE, 6-foot-5, 230-pounds, Orchard Lake St. Mary.
Michigan State has the inside track on this versatile wide receiver, tight end and big time basketball prospect. Some may liken him to former Spartan and current Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Matt Trannon, but Sims is a better player than that.
One of the top small forwards in the state, he's being recruited by coach Tom Izzo. "I want to try to do both in college and use my abilities to the fullest," says Sims who claims offers from Miami, FL, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Iowa. One has to believe if an Izzo/Dantonio combination would be too much for Sims to turn away from.
3. Edwin Baker, RB, 5-foot-11, 210-pounds, Oak Park.
It's no wonder Baker is listed as one of the top three prospects in the state. He rushed for 1,295 yards as a junior while splitting time with senior Joevall Hoseay one of the top 25 backs in the state a season ago.
Still Baker, who compares himself to former Florida and Cowboys standout Emmett Smith says he wants to get the process over with early so he can concentrate on his senior season. "I hear from Michigan, Michigan State, Florida… all kind of schools," Baker said. "I really haven't gotten any offers yet though. Maybe because I'm young." Don't worry, it won't be too long before the top schools in the state begin offering as Baker will be atop everyone's radar.
2. Larry Caper, RB, 6-foot, 215-pounds, Battle Creek Central.
Caper, a four-star Scout.com junior is the back that the in-state schools will have to fend off interest from the big out of town schools like USC (Ronald Johnson, Nick Perry) and Alabama (Mark Ingram, Jr.) that come into the state and routinely poach the top players.
Caper admits interest in Notre Dame and USC and attended their contest in South Bend last season. Teams love Caper because of his combination of elusiveness, soft hands out of the backfield, toughness, ability to block and run between the tackles. Caper's father says USC, Michigan, Alabama and severl other schools are flooding his home with mail, so the offers will no doubt come soon. Can MSU keep this talented star from getting out of the state? Stay tuned.
1. William Campbell, DT/OT, 6-foot-5, 320-pounds, Detroit Cass Tech.
Campbell moved into the #1 spot after a dominating performance at the Army Junior Combine and figures to help spring teammate Teric Jones to a huge year and make Cass a threat for the state championship. Campbell committed to Michigan and even after the coaching change appears solid. If so, it's the rest of the conferences loss as this young man appears on track to play not only collegiately, but at the professional level.
Others of note: #14, QB Andrew Maxwell of Midland.
Maxwell has been linked to Michigan State but hasn't gone on the record as making any kind of commitment but his arm strength and pocket presence can't be denied. Maxwell help lead the Chemics to a state championship appearance only to be denied by Nick Perry and Co. Still, Maxwell has a style similar to Brian Hoyer, a strong arm, the ability to run a little but needs work on his accuracy.
Michigan State's coaching staff has made recruiting the state of Michigan a priority and with this kind of talent ahead in 2009, it would appear that was a good decision.
Will the relationships that coach Dantonio and his staff forged over the last two years pay dividends with a super state recruiting haul? Stay tuned to GSN to find out.