Malik McDowell has generated plenty of drama without playing a down for the Michigan State Spartans.
McDowell's recruitment gained national attention leading up to signing day, as a family conflict about his college destination played out in public view. Although the ESPN 300 defensive tackle prospect wanted to sign with Michigan State, his parents -- and particularly his mother, Joya Crowe -- opposed the decision. Crowe wanted her son at Florida State, Ohio State or Michigan.
Despite picking Michigan State during a signing day announcement at his high school and appearing to sign a national letter of intent, Malik had yet to send a letter to any school. Tuesday marked the deadline to do so, and all indications suggested it would pass without a signed letter.
But there was more drama. McDowell's signed letter arrived Tuesday night at Michigan State. According to his Twitter page, he barely made the deadline, faxing in the letter at 11:12 p.m.
— FAT LEEK (@D1_LEEK) April 2, 2014
While everyone around McDowell might not be thrilled about his destination, Michigan State was his choice all along. I spent signing day inside MSU's football office and captured the coaches' excitement when McDowell said he would become a Spartan. Tension built throughout the day as no letter arrived. McDowell actually sent in his signed Big Ten tender of financial aid -- a document that doesn't require a parent's signature -- late in the afternoon, but Michigan State still could not announce his signing.
Now, the process is over. Michigan State adds the nation's No. 5 defensive tackle prospect, according to ESPN Recruiting Nation. The Spartans lose both defensive tackle starters from last year's team, and while they should get by with Damon Knox, Joel Heath and others, McDowell could be a factor depending on how he performs in fall camp.
Here's hoping the signing puts McDowell and his family at ease. The saga has been a massive distraction, and like any young player, McDowell will need his family's support when he arrives at Michigan State.
Drama followed McDowell to East Lansing. Michigan State hopes more of it -- the good kind -- is on the way.