Mel Tucker, Michigan State football look to stay hot on recruiting trail

Mel Tucker, Michigan State football look to stay hot on recruiting trail


EAST LANSING, Mich. β€” Michigan State is one of the hottest programs on the recruiting trail.

The Spartans have landed five four-star prospects since the calendar flipped to June: Texas defensive backs Chance Rucker and Jaylon Braxton, Florida offensive lineman Clay Wedin and left back Jordan Hall, and Tennessee wide receiver Demitrius Bell. All five committed shortly after taking official visits through the first two weekends of the month. Could more be on the way?

This weekend, MSU will host eight more prospects for official visits. All eight are from out of state. Seven are four-star prospects. Six are top-300 players, four are among the top 200 and two are top-100 recruits. It’s another big weekend for Michigan State’s 2023 class, which ranks ninth nationally.

Here’s everything you need to know about the group of expected visitors this weekend.

Four-star New Jersey OL Chase Bisontis

A top-100 prospect and one of Michigan State’s most important recruits, the New Jersey native is a highly touted offensive lineman in the 2023 cycle, holding offers from Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, LSU, USC, Clemson, Notre Dame, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oregon, Michigan, Miami, Penn State, Florida State and Florida. That’s a stacked offer sheet, but Michigan State has managed to cut through the noise. The Spartans made Bisontis’ top five schools list, along with A&M, Georgia, LSU and home-state Rutgers. MSU will host the 57th-ranked prospect this weekend. Perhaps former high school teammate and current MSU running back Jalen Berger will be his player host.

Bisontis possesses good size at 6-foot-5, 295 pounds. He’s a versatile player who projects as a swing type at the next level β€” either a guard or right tackle β€” and he has the look of a potential building block for this program. These are the types of battles head coach Mel Tucker offensive and line coach Chris Kapilovic must win.

Four-star Oklahoma DE Bai Jobe

While Michigan State has been in on some linemen with bigger body types, the top-100 prospect represents more of a traditional pass rusher. He’s 6-4 with a quick get-off and blazing speed off the edge. He’s listed at 215 pounds, which means he has plenty of room to grow into his frame without needing to shift inside to defensive tackle down the road. Jobe is a serious talent and should be treated as such.

This is a star-studded recruitment. Job, ranked No. 64 overall in the 2023 class, holds offers from 30 programs. He trimmed his list to eight on May 31: Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Miami, Baylor, Vanderbilt and Michigan State. That’s a lot of competition, and it won’t be easy convincing a player from the Southwest to pass up the Aggies and Sooners β€” let alone Alabama and Georgia. But Michigan State landed one of Jobe’s five official visits and will try to move the needle. A potential pairing of Jobe and Brandon T. Jordan could prove successful down the road, given Jobe’s natural ability and Jordan’s ability to teach. Michigan State will look to leave a lasting impression.

Four-star Illinois OL Miles McVay

Another top offensive line target for Michigan State this cycle, McVay ranked No. 183 overall. He has been on campus a handful of times (and happens to be fond of Melting Moments), but this serves as his biggest visit yet.

McVay is a bully on the field. He uses his elite size (6-7, 330 pounds) to have his way with high school defensive linemen. It’s rarely a fair fight, as his Hudl tape shows.

Michigan State has done well recruiting McVay, but this weekend will serve as another test. McVay took an official to Texas A&M this month, will head to Oregon next weekend and has fall scheduled visits with Florida and Alabama. This might be a recruitment that drags on a bit, but McVay is a top target for Kapilovic. Expect MSU to remain in the picture.

Four-star Florida LBs Andrew Harris and Michael Harris

Michigan State has a history of keeping things in the family, recruiting brothers at a high level. There are the Allen brothers, the Bulloughs, the Dowells, the Panasiuks and, most recently, the VanSumerens. Twin four-star prospects Andrew (No. 190 overall) and Michael (No. 296 overall) could be next.

The Harris twins have a fascinating background. They moved from Kingston, Jamaica, to the United States not knowing much about football. They have blossomed with offers from Auburn, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Penn State. Their recruitment appears to be wide open, with official visits to Maryland, UCF, Pitt, Michigan State and Michigan this summer.

A quick look at the Hudl tape tells you why these brothers went from learning the sport on the fly to top-300 prospects in a matter of years. A bit undersized, the Harris twins make up for it with easy athleticism and range that shows at linebacker. With the right strength and conditioning program and a coaching staff that can improve their knowledge of the game, the potential is there for the Harris twins to become high-level Power 5 linebackers. The game is trending toward quicker prospects at this position, and the Harris twins are just that. They’re a package deal for whatever program lands them.

Four-star Florida OL Payton Kirkland

It has been a busy month for Kirkland, who has 53 offers, including the traditional powers: Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma. Plenty of schools have targeted Kirkland, but the Florida native has narrowed his list to Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida, Miami and Michigan State, where he’ll be this weekend.

Kirkland is a massive prospect at 6-6 and projects as a tackle in college. He likely will have to reshape his body a bit when he gets to campus, already weighing in at 345 pounds, but that shouldn’t be an issue given the results we’ve seen from MSU staffers Amber Rinestine and Jason Novak. The tools are there for Kirkland to develop into a starting-caliber tackle for the program that lands him.

Michigan State identified Kirkland as a priority just months into Tucker’s tenure, extending an offer in June 2020, and the Spartans have been in on him ever since. MSU was intentional about offering certain prospects who were years away from their junior and senior seasons back in 2020. Recruiting is about relationships, and this one has been building for two years. It’s what helped pave the way for an official visit this weekend, and it has the Spartans standing out alongside the likes of Bama, Oklahoma and two in-state programs.

Kirkland plans to announce his commitment July 23. This will serve as MSU’s chance to stand out in a crowded field.

Four-star Indiana OL Trevor Lauck

You might be sensing a theme with the slated visitors this week. Kapilovic will have several of his top offensive line targets on campus this weekend, with Lauck making it four highly touted linemen to visit. Though he flies a bit under the radar in terms of Michigan State’s offensive line prospects, Lauck’s a four-star talent himself.

The Indianapolis native released a top eight consisting of Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Louisville, Purdue, Indiana, Cincinnati and Iowa in March, and he has official visits scheduled for MSU and Iowa this month. Any time Iowa is interested in a prospect, you have to think you’re on to something. Lauck is a big and physical player at 6-6, 285 pounds, and he plays to the whistle every snap. He’s a true tackle, and a very talented one at that.

Three-star Virginia WR Paul Billups

Michigan State is looking at a smaller wide receiver hauling this cycle after landing Germie Bernard, Antonio Gates Jr., Jaron Glover and Tyrell Henry last year. So it’s safe to assume that if the staff sets up an official visit with a wide receiver target, there’s probably a strong level of interest. That appears to be the case with Billups.

Billups, ranked No. 625 overall, is the only three-star prospect taking an official visit this weekend, and it’s easy to see what MSU likes about his game. His high school often drew up bubble screens for him, working to get the ball in his hands and let him do his thing. It’s a smart tactic because Billups uses great acceleration to get upfield in a hurry and separate from defenders, making him a yards-after-catch threat.

Billups is set to announce his commitment Aug. 24. His only two locked-in official visits are MSU this weekend and North Carolina next weekend. We’ll see how it unfolds.

(Photo: Michael Hickey / Getty Images)

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