MSU adds two more Ohio recruits to 2017 football class – Lansing State Journal
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Michigan State’s success in Ohio continued on back-to-back days.
The Spartans added linebacker Darien Clemons from Piqua to its 2017 recruiting class on Tuesday night, then picked up a commitment from running back Weston Bridges from Copley on Wednesday evening.
They are the seventh and eighth additions to the Spartans’ 2017 class, as well as the third in a row from the Buckeye state after offensive lineman Matt Carrick from Perry High in Massillon gave his pledge last week.
“Every year the Big Ten produces the best running backs,” Bridges told 247Sports.com. “Now, I have the opportunity to play for the best team in the conference in Michigan State. I have this opportunity and I’m going to take advantage of it.”
Bridges is a 5-foot-11, 191-pound running back from the Akron suburbs. He ran for 29 touchdowns and more than 1,600 yards as a junior, helping the Indians to a 9-2 record before losing to Hudson in their Division II playoff opener.
Bridges chose the Spartans over Indiana, Purdue, Rutgers and Syracuse, announcing it via Twitter with a YouTube video. He told 247Sports.com that former Le’Veon Bell is his favorite running back, which goes back to when he was younger and first saw the former MSU star play against Ohio State.
“He’s got really good speed,” Clemons said of Bridges. “He knows how to run the ball, he runs hard, he’s got great footwork. I think he’s a Michigan State running back.”
Clemons, from north of Dayton, is a pure football player, a two-way star who also plays running back for Piqua High. And returns kickoffs. And punts. He’s also a former track athlete and wrestled as a freshman.
But it’s at linebacker where the 6-1, 214-pounder has made the biggest impact, specifically on MSU’s co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett.
“(Barnett) comes in every year, and this year when he saw Darien’s film, he was like, ‘Man, he’s popping off the screen. This is gonna be big,’” Piqua coach Bill Nees said. “One of his comments was, ‘He’s the kind of player that we have.’”
Clemons picked MSU over Rutgers, Eastern Kentucky and a number of Mid-American Conference offers. He said he played against current Spartan freshman quarterback Messiah DeWeaver and knows cornerback Vayante Copeland, another pair of players from Ohio. Clemons’ visit to East Lansing and exploring the school’s academic programs also helped solidify his choice, he said.
Watching sophomore Andrew Dowell – another Ohio player – at MSU’s spring game also allowed Clemons see what his future fit will be at the Spartans’ Star linebacker spot.
“He’s a hard hitter and he goes after it,” Clemons said of Dowell. “I feel like that’s what I bring to the table and how I can compete at that position. I’m a hard hitter, I run fast, run hard, I play hard, and that’s exactly what he does.”
Bridges and Clemons join Carrick, receivers Hunter Rison and Cody White, tight end Jack Camper, offensive lineman Kevin Jarvis and quarterback Rocky Lombardi in MSU’s 2017 class.