Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker was on a video conference call with reporters Friday when the Michigan High School Athletic Association decided to postpone the fall football season to spring 2021.
Michigan isn’t alone in delaying the season because of COVD-19 concerns — more than 10 states have already done the same — but what impact the decision will have on MSU’s and Michigan’s in-state recruiting efforts remains to be seen. Four of the Spartans’ 11 commitments in the 2021 class are in-state players, while four of the Wolverines’ 21 pledges hail from Michigan.
Michigan colleges also are targeting dozens of in-state players across multiple classes and now won’t be able to make in-game evaluations in the fall.
“We’ve seen a lot of players play, we have a lot of offers out and our offers stand on what we’ve seen players do previously,” Tucker said of recruiting in state. “So I don’t see that being an issue for us. The players that we’re recruiting, they know that we want them and we’re going to continue to recruit them. There’s a lot of time between now and December and February and those signing periods. So we’re going to continue to work, sell our culture, sell our process and connect with those recruits and connect with those parents.”
However, 247Sports national recruiting analyst Allen Trieu said the postponement will likely have more of an effect on in-state underclassmen. Michigan colleges might have to comb through more out-of-state talent that is playing football in the fall instead of focusing their efforts on in-state players. With the Big Ten and Mid-American Conferences also postponing fall football, coaching staffs will have more time to recruit in what otherwise would be a hectic season.
“In the ’22 and ’23 classes, I think it will affect the offering of in-state kids,” Trieu wrote in a message to MLive. “The kids who get their fall fill in those classes will get offered earlier in all likelihood. The good thing for Michigan kids is, in those classes, they’ll have time to make that up, and I would think there may be some camps in the fall where they can get footage to schools from.”
High school players could opt to transfer out of state to somewhere likely to play football in the fall, but Trieu said that hasn’t been a common trend in other states that have postponed thus far. Although Michigan and Illinois are among the few Midwest states to move the season to the spring so far.
“It is obviously a big deal,” Trieu wrote to MLive. “Kids are faced with possibly losing their seasons. It changes things for kids in every class. I do expect kids to explore transfer options, but looking at Illinois, which moved to spring well before Michigan, there haven’t been too many transfers from there yet.”
Through a program spokesperson, Michigan doesn’t have a response to the MHSAA’s decision at this time, but the team, like many other programs, surely are following the high school football landscape closely.
Matt Dudek, Michigan’s director of recruiting, tweeted Friday, “Sick for all the Michigan High School Football guys…tough news today,” he wrote. “‘Out of adversity comes opportunity’…be sad today and start working for that next opportunity tomorrow! #GoBlue
East Lansing’s Andrel Anthony, a 2021 three-star receiver committed to Michigan, was planning on playing his senior season and then enrolling early in January. Now if he still chooses that route, it could be nearly two years between playing meaningful downs of football.