Michigan State’s chances with 4-star RB Ronnie Walker, Spartans commits dominate Ohio rankings, and more

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On the banks of the Red Cedar, recruiting never stops. We’re here every step of the way to keep you informed with our daily notebook. Recruiting questions? Comment below or direct them to lucas.srodulski@ajc.com and we’ll do our best to get them answered.


Decision coming from 4-star RB Ronnie Walker

Fans won’t have to wait much longer to see whether Michigan State can land its first running back of the 2018 class.

On Tuesday, 4-star Hopewell (Va.) running back Ronnie Walker shared his decision date. He will announce his commitment at 1:30 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 28.

Walker also shared his three finalists: Michigan State, Indiana and Virginia.

So where does each team stand? Well, Walker named Indiana and Michigan State his top two after his Midwest trip. Though he didn’t meet Coach Mark Dantonio on the trip, he spent valuable time with much of the staff. Strength and conditioning coach Ken Mannie left a particularly good impression.

Michigan State has been after Walker for quite some time, and the Spartans’ pro-style offense catches his eye. Indiana hasn’t been in the picture as long, but Walker has known Hoosiers running back coach (and former Michigan RB) Mike Hart since he was coaching at Virginia, and the two have become very close.

And now Virginia has jumped back into the picture right at the end. Walker feels like the Big Ten is an ideal conference for a running back, but a chance to stay close to home could be tough to turn down.

This decision may ultimately come down to which program makes the most compelling case that Walker can play as a true freshman, which is one of his top priorities. Michigan State certainly can offer that, as it will be without Gerald Holmes and possibly LJ Scott in 2018.

4 Michigan State commits in new Land of 10 Ohio rankings

If Spartan Stadium is Michigan State’s home, Ohio is its summer getaway.

Few states can compete with the vast array of football talent consistently churned out by the Buckeye State. Michigan sure can’t. It has talent, but the pool is not nearly as deep.

As the years have passed, Dantonio and the Spartans have found more and more success recruiting Ohio. The 2018 class looks unprecedented in that regard, as they have already landed nine prospects from the state. Dantonio never has reeled in more from Ohio. And the class isn’t even done.

Land of 10’s Jeremy Birmingham, who covers Ohio State recruiting and provides unmatched scouting of Ohio prep football, took on the task of ranking the top recruits in the state. Of the 20 prospects in his rankings, 14 have committed to a school. Four have chosen Michigan State, more than any other school.

Here’s where Birm ranked those four players, along with what he had to say about them.

No. 16 • 3-star LB Chase Kline (6-3, 225), Chardon — committed to Michigan State

Chase Kline is another big-time linebacker in Ohio, though unlike [Brian] Asamoah, he’s got prototype linebacker size.

The Michigan State commit runs well and has excellent instincts in the run game, capably serving as a physical, run-stuffing linebacker. He’s better sideline-to-sideline than people expect, too. He’s got star potential in East Lansing.

No. 12 • 3-star S Michael Dowell (6-0, 195), Lakewood St. Edward — committed to Michigan State

The third Dowell [joining twin brothers Andrew and David in the 2016 class] to pledge his commitment to Mark Dantonio and Michigan State may have the highest upside of all. Michael Dowell runs the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds and is an explosive athlete in the secondary for the Eagles of Lakewood St. Edward. Coachable with a high football IQ and uber athletic, Dowell checks all the boxes.

No. 8 • 4-star TE Trenton Gillison (6-5, 220), Pickerington Central — committed to Michigan State

Pickerington has become a hotbed for talent in recent years and Trenton Gillison is one more major star emerging from the area. Ohio’s top tight end prospect in 2018, those measurables above are legitimate. Gillison is a well-rounded talent, capable of being a force in the run game or as a receiver. He needs to get stronger, but that will come with time and work in college. Gillison has all the tools to be a top-tier Big Ten tight end.

No. 7 • 4-star ATH Xavier Henderson (6-0, 189), Pickerington Central — committed to Michigan State

Another future Spartan and another Pickerington Central star, Xavier Henderson is Ohio’s top defensive back in the Class of 2018. Henderson has the speed and range to play cornerback as well as the physicality to be a safety. He’s a big-hitting, Big Ten prototype who will mix it up with anyone.

Off the field, Henderson is an excellent student and leader for his teammates. He’s got the whole package and, similar to Hawkins, has future captain written all over him. This kid is a winner.

How do our rankings at Land of 10 compare to the 247Sports composite rankings, which compiles and averages scores from major media recruiting services? Well, Birmingham has three of the four listed Michigan State commits ranked higher than their 247Sports composite positions.

Kline ranked seven spots higher in the Land of 10 rankings, and Dowell and Henderson were four spots higher. Gillison was one spot lower at No. 8.

Keep an eye on these players, both for their Land of 10 rankings and for Birmingham’s descriptions of their potential. They could be special pieces for the Spartans down the road.

And don’t forget Michigan State has five other players from the state committed to its 2018 class.

How about another DB?

Michigan State has already loaded up its secondary in the 2018 class. The aforementioned Henderson and Dowell along with 3-star cornerbacks Chris Jackson and Davion Williams would be an impress haul if the Spartans stopped right there.

But maybe they won’t. Four-star Waggener (Louisville, Ky.) High School cornerback Jairus Brents announced his top 10 with a touching writeup about the loss of his father and how it affected him. He included Michigan State in that group.

At 5-foot-10 he’s not the biggest cornerback, but Brents makes up for it with physicality and aggression. That’s why he’s got offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon and Wisconsin.

Brents visited Michigan State last October to see the Spartans lose to BYU, 31-14. Despite the outcome, he left happy with his experience.

“I really like the coaching staff there and the environment,” he told Land of 10 afterward. “[Co-defensive coordinator Harlon] Barnett took some time out to talk to me, and I really like Coach Butler [Benton, recruiting operations coordinator] and [recruiting intern Javon] Ringer. They looked out for me and told me a lot of good things about the school.”

Now the Spartans will have to work to make his top five and earn an official visit. 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong suggested that Michigan State is one of three teams in best position to land the standout senior. Adding Brents to the Spartans’ haul of defensive backs would be a massive pickup.

The post Michigan State’s chances with 4-star RB Ronnie Walker, Spartans commits dominate Ohio rankings, and more appeared first on Land of 10.

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