Future Spartan running back Brandon Wright of Euclid, Ohio wasn’t the recipient of the regular recruiting hubbub and mumbo jumbo. Maybe that’s because Michigan State was the only gang paying the appropriate type of attention.
Let’s start with something that seems to be pretty basic, obvious, and important:
Recent 2019 recruiting class commit Brandon Wright – a running back from Euclid, Ohio – stands 6’2″ and weighs 222 pounds.
I don’t know if he’s had his 17th birthday yet.
The kid is a big person by any measure.
According to the basement dwelling recruiting experts, Brandon Wright is the 1,163rd best player in the 2019 national recruiting class.
According to his high school coach, Wright is “the steal of the century.”
It’s a nice example of how the basement dwellers have a tendency to pay close attention to Twitter and Instasnap and Facepage and sometimes don’t pay attention to some of the things that usually have a tendency to be indicators of a high school kid’s potential as a football player.
Like, for instance, size, strength, speed, athleticism, the ability to score touchdowns, work ethic, coachability, an appreciation for team goals, a desire to win football games, and the character traits that are consistent with being a good person.
Mark Dantonio and his staff have demonstrated that the player traits listed in the previous paragraph matter.
I think that when Mark Dantonio offered scholarships to players like Kirk Cousins, Le’Veon Bell, Connor Cook, Darqueze Dennard, Trae Waynes, Max Bullough, Joel Heath, Denicos Allen, Aaron Burbridge, Kurtis Drummond, Will Gholston, Jeremy Langford, Bennie Fowler, Chris Frey, Tony Lippett, Donovan Clark, Jack Allen, Brian Allen, Marcus Rush, Lawrence Thomas, Montae Nicholson, and Demetrious Cox, Dantonio saw that these football players were, for some reason, not considered to be “highly touted” despite Dantonio’s sense that they’d become sensational Spartans and eventually earn paychecks in the NFL.
This is to say nothing of the fact that Mark Dantonio accepted Jack Conklin as a walk-on a few years before Conklin became a First Round NFL Draft pick.
Reminder, too, that current Spartan monster Kenny Willekes was a walk-on.
Brandon Wright might not win the Heisman Trophy like the guy he’s compared to in Matt Wenzel’s piece below, Eddie George.
Brandon Wright might not play in the NFL for seven years like another guy that’s mentioned in Wenzel’s piece, Robert Smith.
But, there is a track record of success related to the recruiting decisions made by Mark Dantonio.
He seems to not care too much if a high school football player looks like a killer on the football field but doesn’t catch the attention of the basement dwellers.
If I was forced to choose between Mark Dantonio and the basement dwellers in terms of speculating on Brandon Wright’s future as a football player, I think I’d have to go with Dantonio’s judgment.
Like Wright’s high school coach says, “….there’s going to be a lot of people that he is going to run the fricking rock over in the Big Ten and people are going to say, ‘What the hell did we miss?'”
Welcome to Michigan State, Brandon Wright.
It was late in the first half of a playoff game last fall and Euclid (Ohio) High School had a comfortable lead with the ball deep in its own territory.
The plan was simple – run the ball and kill some clock before heading into the locker room.
Eleven seconds and 92 yards later – after giving 11 defenders a look at the No. 42 stitched to the back of his jersey – Brandon Wright was celebrating with teammates in the end zone.
“Brandon hits the hole and it seemed like seven guys were going to tackle him and nobody got a finger on him and he went 90 yards for a touchdown,” Euclid coach Jeff Rotsky said. “It was crazy.”
Wright stands 6-foot-2 and 222 pounds but considers breakaway speed as one of his strengths. Rotsky called him a “freak of an athlete” and compared him to former Ohio State Heisman Trophy winner and NFL Pro Bowl running back Eddie George.
Although Wright’s game tape is impressive, it’s worth noting he has just one season of varsity experience. And, he wasn’t even Euclid’s starting running back last year. That may have resulted in Wright being an underrated recruit, but schools took note of his talent. Michigan State was one of them and that paid off as the Spartans landed a verbal commitment from the 2019 three-star running back on June 28.
“It came down to my top two schools with Michigan State and Pittsburgh,” Wright said. “I was just really comparing the two schools and I really like both schools, but I just felt comfortable at Michigan State. I was comfortable with the area, the players that I met there and all the coaches I felt real comfortable with. I felt like that was the school for me.”
Wright was one of six recruits who committed to Michigan State’s 2019 class in a five-day span in late June. Some, like Belleville five-star offensive tackle Devontae Dobbs, were already familiar names to many Spartan fans. Wright wasn’t in the same category and partially by choice.
While some recruits publicly announce every scholarship offer they receive, chart each college visit and slowly whittle down their list of top schools, Wright was not as active in promoting himself and doesn’t spend every waking moment on Twitter. The No. 85 running back and No. 1,163 player overall in the 2019 class – according to 247Sports Composite rankings – doesn’t keep a tally of total scholarship offers but believes it is about a dozen.
Although Wright did tweet some of his offers, including Purdue, Boston College and Pittsburgh, he never announced when he received one from Michigan State, which he said came in the last couple months. He also didn’t share his itinerary when he took visits to Michigan State and Pittsburgh in June before making a decision.
“It’s kind of my personality,” he said. “I was just going through the process.”
That mindset is just fine with Rotsky, who prefers his players avoid social media while focusing on the team.
Happy to announce that I’m committed to Michigan State University!! #GoSpartans
Wright spent his junior season as Euclid’s No. 2 running back behind Ronald Lee, who rushed for 2,320 yards to break the program’s single-season record. It was previously set in 1989 by Robert Smith, who went on to star at Ohio State and spent eight seasons in the NFL.
Lee, a 5-7, 170-pound rusher who signed with Division II Ashland University, received the bulk of the touches. Wright, meanwhile, finished with an impressive average of 10.7 yards per carry with 65 rushes for 694 yards and nine touchdowns.
“They didn’t really put me in a lot,” Wright said. “It’s just every time I got in I tried to make the most of it.”
Wright was also a standout defensive end and racked up 33 tackles and 10 sacks as a junior. Rotsky said having him focus on defense was the best fit for the team last year, but that role will change this fall. Ideally, Wright will get about 25 carries a game and line up at defensive end only in third-and-long pass-rush situations, or if he’s really needed on that side of the ball in a close game.
“It would not surprise me if he broke Ronald’s record,” Rotsky said, noting a 2,400-yard season is possible. “Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me.”
“I think Brandon is the steal of the century,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of people that he is going to run the fricking rock over in the Big Ten and people are going to say, ‘What the hell did we miss?'”