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Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Michigan, MSU tweak recruiting strategy

By Tom VanHaaren

Michigan has been going through an offensive transformation under coach Brady Hoke, but Michigan State could be joining with a facelift of its own in the near future.

The Wolverines are currently trying to change back to a pro-style offense from the spread it ran under former coach Rich Rodriguez, and Michigan State is looking to switch to more of a spread offense with a mobile quarterback.

Because both schools will be looking to tweak the offensive scheme, it makes sense that both programs have put an emphasis on recruiting the right quarterback. It also means they will be looking for completely different prospects at the position.

After adding Shane Morris to the roster in the 2013 class, the Michigan coaching staff took a different approach for 2014. After months of evaluations, the coaches narrowed the search down to a few quarterbacks they were interested in.

David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./North), Michael O’Connor (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy) and Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School) were the three that made the list.

The coaches then decided that Speight, the No. 128 ranked prospect, would get the first call with the first offer and if he wanted to accept, he could. If not, they would move to the next on the list.

They made the call and Speight committed.

With his vitals, skill set and abilities, he looks to be a perfect fit for what Michigan is looking for.

“Since they’re transitioning to more of a pro-style, that really fits the way I play,” Speight said. “I can make plays on my feet if I need to, but with the big boys up front they already have and they’re recruiting, I can sit back there and perform well.

Michigan is once again taking its time in the 2015 class as only one offer, to No. 1-ranked quarterback Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), has gone out.

Michigan State has been headed in the opposite direction, though. As it currently runs a pro-style offense, the Spartans have been recruiting more mobile, athletic quarterbacks.

 Jayru Campbell
By the time Class of 2015 quarterback Jayru Campbell makes it on the Michigan State campus, the Spartans' offense will likely look a lot different.
Case in point was 2013 quarterback signee Damion Terry, the No. 283 overall prospect and No. 13 ranked dual-threat quarterback in his class. And another dual threat is committed for 2014 in Chris Durkin (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline). Both are mobile, athletic quarterbacks that Michigan State hasn’t recruited in the past.

“They usually have a guy who can throw from the pocket, but now they want a guy who can do both,” Durkin said. “Their previous quarterbacks haven’t been mobile and that’s what they saw in Terry last year, myself this year and with the quarterback in the 2015 class.”

Through seven games this season, Durkin has 646 rushing yards and 821 passing for his team.

Jayru Campbell (Detroit/Cass Tech) is committed to the Spartans in the 2015 class, yet another athletic quarterback who can pass.

Durkin has seen some of what the Michigan State coaches have told him will be in the future offense this season. He has seen some zone read plays and a few quarterback runs with current quarterback Connor Cook.

He doesn’t know the exact reason why the Spartans staff decided to change things up, but he is 100 percent confident it’s the right choice.

“The game is changing. College teams used to always be pro-style, and now even the pro teams are spreading it out, so I guess Michigan State wants to spread it out,” he said. “It’s pretty exciting that they’re going to try something new. They’re bringing in a ton of new athletes and they want speed on the perimeter and in the backfield.”

The differing philosophies could mean there will be fewer battles between the Spartans and Wolverines for offensive players, particularly at quarterback, in the future. It undoubtedly means that the recruiting battles that do take place will be that much more meaningful.