A commitment anywhere other than Michigan or Michigan State is rare for a top Cass Tech prospect.
Consider last recruiting cycle alone. Cass Tech had three players ranked in the Scout 300 — wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones (Michigan), offensive guard Jordan Reid (Michigan State) and safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell (Michigan). All of them chose an in-state school.
Year before? Same thing. Offensive guard Michael Onwenu (Michigan) and safety Demetric Vance (Michigan State), both ranked in the Scout 300.
Four-star cornerback Kalon Gervin, who committed to Notre Dame earlier this month, came up the ranks at Cass Tech looking up to those players. He’s all too familiar with how Michigan and Michigan State routinely lock down the talent at his high school. And knows the road ahead.
“It’s real big,” Gervin said. “It’s pretty much Michigan State and Michigan and that’s it. I had to be different. I’ve known that since I was a freshman. It’s very difficult. I know State kind of took it hard. But it’s all business.”
Gervin chose the Irish in a whirlwind that surprised some.
Notre Dame offered Feb. 6 and hosted Gervin later that week for Junior Day. After a couple days on campus, Gervin headed back to Detroit. He committed about 24 hours after leaving campus, choosing the Irish over more than 30 scholarship offers.
Michigan and Michigan State had both offered. So had Oklahoma, LSU, Oregon, Penn State, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
“I looked at pretty much all the factors,” Gervin said. “I felt like the education was second to none. That really put in my head like, ‘I might want to go there.’ Even before I went down there that was really in my head and my mom was talking before I went down there. She was like, ‘Notre Dame might be it.’
“It was a tough battle between Michigan State and Notre Dame. It was a tough battle with them, Oklahoma, Missouri. It was a tough battle. But I had to make a business decision.”
Some of that choice involved the things Gervin learned during his visit.
Defensive coordinator Mike Elko made an impression at the white board showing the 5-foot-11, 170-pound prospect different aspects of the incoming system. Elko plans to start Gervin as a field corner, hoping he’ll eventually move to the boundary.
Gervin feels he’s up for the challenge.
“I think my technique is very high for my age,” he said. “I feel like I’m gonna fit great in coach Elko’s defense. He showed me the whole defense, every position. He believes that I can fit in the system. That’s the most important with me. How can I fit in the system?”
Another thing Gervin believes: Defensive backs coach Todd Lyght will bring about quick development.
Gervin brushed up on Lyght’s credentials — All-American, first round pick, Super Bowl Champion, All-Pro, Michigan product. Gervin sees Lyght as just the coach to guide him on the same path toward stardom.
“You want to know who’s coaching you,” Gervin said. “They have to know what they’re doing and he’s that guy. He knows what he’s doing. He’s accomplished a lot at every level.”
Gervin wants to do the same. That begins by doing something different at Cass Tech.