After a whirlwind December, the recruitment of Desimon Green has taken on a refreshingly old-fashioned feel.
Meanwhile, the hustle of Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio has given the Spartans a mini leg up, heading into his three January official visits.
What is old fashioned about Green's recruitment? The fact that he is down to three favorites - Michigan State, Texas Tech and Illinois - and he has never set foot on campus at any of those schools, not for a game, not for a summer camp. When he takes official visits to those schools - beginning with his trip to MSU on Jan. 14, followed by Illinois on Jan. 21 and Texas Tech on Jan. 28 - he will be taking his first long look at each school, with an open mind. That's the way recruiting used to work for out-of-state recruits, back in the old days.
As for Dantonio, he may have taken an early lead over his head coaching counter parts from Illinois and Texas Tech by being the lone head coach of the three to pay a visit to Green's high school in mid-December.
"He likes all three of those coaches," Nola said of Dantonio, Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville and Illinois' Ron Zook. "The head coach of Michigan State, Dantonio, he came down to see Des, and Des liked that when the head coach came down. The assistants from Illinois and Texas Tech came here and he had nice talks with them and he liked them too."
Green, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound defensive end prospect, ranked the No. 32 player in Pennsylvania by Rivals.com, ended up in this late-breaking, fact-gathering situation due to the firing of former Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt. Green committed to Pitt last summer, before the camp season, and never had reason to visit other campuses. That all changed when Wannstedt was fired in early December.
"He is sort of glad that things didn't work out at Pitt because now he gets to re-look," said Tom Nola, head coach at Clairton (Pa.) High School, where Green helped his team win the Class A state championship.
Texas Tech, Illinois and Michigan State had Green high on their wish lists last spring and summer, prior to Green's commitment to Pitt.
"He liked those three schools from the beginning," Nola said. "He just committed to Pitt because it was here, in his hometown. A couple of his friends were on that Pitt team already, so he committed to them."
Wannstedt's firing stunned Green. But Nola says Green has bounced back positively.
"He likes getting the attention again," Nola said. "He was getting it for a while, before he committed to Pitt. He had 'em all in here, after him. And he liked that. Now he is back in it, and he is sort of that kind of person, he likes the attention."
He certainly soaked it up as a two-way star for Clairton's championship team. He had 12 sacks as a stand-up defensive end this year in Clairton's 3-4 scheme.
Nola has clocked Green at 4.7 in the 40-yard dash, which is good horsepower for a 6-foot-5 guy with moves and strength. Green could probably play tight end at a high D-1 level with no problem. But there is more demand for the rare commodities he possesses as a prospect on the defensive edge.
"Teams want him as that outside person, in a 3-4 as either the outside linebacker or a 4-3 as a defensive end," Nola said.
MSU, Illinois and Texas Tech are base 4-3 teams. But MSU's system is open to standing a defensive end up in some situations, if the players has the necessary talents.
Rutgers tried to get Green to schedule a late visit. But Green's dance card was already filled with visits on the last three weekends of January to his three favorites.
"He just has those three," Nola said. "He liked all three of those coaches."
MSU will bat first. Green used a Spartan logo as his Facebook profile photo earlier this week, prompting friends to ask if that's where he will sign. No answer from Green, as he is still getting to know his three finalists.
MSU tight ends and tackles coach, Mark Staten, has served as the Spartans' primary area recruiter for Green.
"He is the one that made the original contact," Nola said of Staten.
When asked if he believes any of the three schools may have an edge over the others, Nola said: "I don't want to speak for him but he really liked Michigan State because Coach Dantonio was the only head coach to come down and personally talk to him."
The talks will increase in urgency and importance as Green gets ready for his first official visit, midway through the month of January.
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