Score a big one for the Spartans, with perhaps more to come before football recruits can start faxing in their signed letters of intent Wednesday.
That’s also the day a strange recruitment that has become a public display of child-parent disagreement will end — not in Michigan State’s favor, it increasingly appears.
But today went the Spartans’ way when defensive tackle Craig Evans of Sun Prairie, Wis., announced on Twitter his switch from Wisconsin to MSU. The 6-foot-2, 313-pound Evans is ranked the No. 11 defensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com.
Evans tweeted: “As you all may have heard I’m no longer a badger and no it’s not about the academics just the best decision for me ….And if your a fan of me be a fan of me despite wherever I go and with (that) being said I have officially committed to MSU #GoGreenGoWhite”
Evans is the 21st member of MSU’s 2014 class and enhances what was already a stocked defensive line haul for a Mark Dantonio program coming off a 13-1 season. The offensive line could get a big boost Tuesday if tackle Jamarco Jones of Chicago De La Salle chooses the Spartans.
Jones is an Ohio State commitment, but he visited MSU over the weekend and could become the second flip of the week for the Spartans. MSU also is still in the hunt for safety T.J. Harrell of Tampa Catholic and defensive tackle Daniel Cage of Cincinnati Winton Woods.
The Spartans are right in it for Southfield defensive lineman Malik McDowell as well – but if he chooses MSU on Wednesday morning, it will be against his parents’ wishes.
“We don’t want him at MSU,” Malik’s mother, Joya Crowe, said Monday night, and she gave multiple reasons.
“Something happened, I don’t want to put it out there what it was,” she said of her son’s recent official visit, “but I had a bad experience at MSU.”
Asked to elaborate, she said: “It was something on my end, I don’t want to get into specifics.”
Crowe said she and Malik’s father, Greg McDowell, also fear “too much social life” at MSU.
“I want him to get a good education,” Crowe said. “Not that he can’t get a good education at MSU. But he also wants to be a first-round pick after college. Nothing is guaranteed, but I don’t think their defensive line coach has the background for that.”
Ron Burton, who just finished his first season as MSU’s defensive line coach, played four seasons in the NFL from 1987-90. His MSU bio said he sent one defensive lineman to the NFL in 10 seasons as defensive line coach at Air Force — though Air Force is not known as a haven for future NFL players.
Greg McDowell told 247Sports.com of his son’s recruitment and MSU: “You have to be somewhere you have less distractions and be around people that do what you do, go to class, be football players, be a student-athlete. That’s the environment I want him to be around, and not be in close proximity to his friends. I want him out of Michigan. I don’t care if that’s Ohio State or Florida State.”
Crowe said she would be OK with her son choosing U-M but agreed that “I think it’s best he leaves the state.”
In a video interview Monday with Rivals.com, Malik said of MSU: “I like a lot about the Spartans. I like Coach (Dantonio), Coach (Pat) Narduzzi and Coach Burton a lot, and Coach (Terry) Samuel, too. Just the team atmosphere, I like the school atmosphere. Just the overall school, pretty much.”
He also said last weekend’s official visit to OSU helped him know the coaches better, that Florida State’s coaches are “energetic” and that “Michigan just speaks for itself, pretty much.”
Asked if he’s most comfortable with MSU, Malik said: “Yeah, but some other schools are still in it.”
Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.com is among several analysts who were projecting Malik to MSU recently, but that has changed now that the choice of MSU would amount to publicly defying his parents.
“Put yourself in the young man’s shoes,” Wiltfong said, “your parents don’t want you at a school, you’re 17 years old — it’s got to be tough.”
Though Wednesday is the start of the signing period, Malik is not mandated to sign that day. It’s possible his process could extend beyond that, though when Rivals.com asked if he’ll be ready to make a “clean decision” Wednesday, he said: “I believe so.”
And Crowe said that decision still could end up being Michigan State.
“Anything is possible,” she said. “I hope not but it’s possible. It’ll be one of the hats on the table. I hope he makes the right decision.”
Evans’ highlight video: