This has been a terrific week for sports fans across the state of Michigan with the Pistons winning the rights to the first overall lottery pick in next month’s NBA draft. Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham could potentially be the selection that turns into a franchise player who brings the organization back to prominence (that had the Mitten State beaming with pride in the late 1980s, early 1990s, and early to mid 2000s).
The good fortune continued into the weekend for those that are dual Piston/Michigan State football fans as four-star quarterback Katin Houser (from California) committed to Michigan State.
Houser stands 6-3 and weighs around 200 pounds. He throws a beautiful ball and is known for having outstanding touch on his throws. He is an extremely accurate passer both in the pocket and on the run. He has above average mobility and does demonstrate the ability to implement RPO plays into drives downfield much like Brian Lewerke did. He makes sound decisions and hits his receivers in stride which leads to huge YAC chunks for his pass catchers.
Take a look at his junior season tape below:
Previous Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio’s concentrated recruiting well was Ohio, which he went back to time and time again and it worked wonders for his success.
Current program leader Mel Tucker has branched out to win several recruiting battles in the south (that seems to be an area of emphasis for Tucker), southwest, west, and east. Tucker was born in Ohio and coached there so his ability to pull prep stars out of his home state will never be an area of concern. It is refreshing to see Tucker expand MSU’s recruiting net across the entire nation.
The recent addition of longtime Detroit Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher to MSU’s staff (to couple with Flint coaching legend Courtney Hawkins’ in-state ties) indicates that he also is placing a premium on mining gems out of the talent hotbed of Detroit and Michigan as a whole. The hiring of Wilcher is coming off the heels of Saeed Khalif’s joining forces with Tucker as Michigan State’s new director of player personnel. Khalif is well-renowned as a recruiting guru himself after previously excelling in that specialty during his tenure at Wisconsin.
Recruiting has become a top priority under Tucker which is bringing a tremendous amount of excitement to a program with a ton of momentum behind it.
When Nicco Marchiol decided to head to West Virginia (AJ Duffy was of the market before that) and there wasn’t much action from Justyn Martin, Jayden Denegal, or Luther Richesson, it was clear that Michigan State was putting all of their eggs in the basket of Houser. They were determined to land a pledge from him. Michigan State’s persistence was key with Houser.
The interest eventually became mutual as the Elite 11 finalist moved up his visit to East Lansing a week early and de-committed from Boise State a short time later. At that moment, one could sense that he was leaning MSU’s way. It’s almost as if there is a mad scramble for highly-rated high school signal-callers to secure a spot at a university of their choice before summer brings camps, practices, and the launching of their senior seasons, especially when you consider the vast majority of programs only take one quarterback per class.
During a pandemic, it’s unfair to fault a high school standout who de-commits from a school once a dead period has been lifted. Countless players have been verbally committing to universities they have not been able to see in-person. They’ve only taken part in virtual tours of campuses via video calls.
In Houser’s case, he had the opportunity to fly in to view Michigan State and it was evident that he was thrilled with his experience. He was quickly sold on the idea of playing in Spartan Stadium.
What do Houser’s offers say about him?
- Yale offered Houser. That tells you he is a bright kid and has the mental capacity to both handle the pressure of directing an offensive attack and digesting a complex playbook (and audible after audible that comes along with reading a defense’s scheme).
- A West Coast powerhouse program, Washington, offered him. That speaks to the potential he’s loaded with. An upper body injury as an underclassman and a COVID-19 shortened junior season (not to mention he shared time with another decorated quarterback recruit by the name of Pierce Clarkson) limited the exposure he received. MSU may have secured his services just as he was set to blow up and be discovered by schools throughout the SEC and ACC.
- The most telling of the offers may be the ones extended not from bluebloods, rather from those who air it out all game long. Washington State, Nevada, and Hawaii wanted Houser badly. This trio of programs have famously adopted versions of the air raid offense which calls on its quarterbacks to toss it 40, 50, 60 times a game. These particular schools target quarterbacks who can really sling it. Houser falls into that category. Michigan State found a passer with a live arm.
- Iowa offered him late in the spring recruiting cycle. As a matter of fact, they were his most recent offer, which tells us several other Big Ten schools may have been on their way to pursue him had MSU not sealed the deal.
Why Michigan State makes sense for Houser:
- Michigan State’s quarterback room will be loaded with unproven players by the time Houser arrives if Anthony Russo wins the starting job in the months to come. There is a chance Houser will see some snaps early on. That surely was a huge draw.
- With all due respect to Boise State, Michigan State is a much more attractive college destination for someone who plays Houser’s position. MSU has evolved into a quarterback factory since the turn of the century, sending quarterback after quarterback to the NFL. From Drew Stanton to Brian Hoyer to Kirk Cousins to Connor Cook, MSU’s pro style offense has prepared them well for the next level. Cook was with the Raiders for a cup of coffee but the other three have enjoyed long NFL careers.
- There are some connections Houser has established with players on MSU’s current roster. He has roots in Nevada (where Jalen Nailor played high school ball) and attends the same high school that stellar 2021 freshman linebacker recruit Ma’a Gaoteote did. Both encouraged him to go green.
- Boise State has been the cream of the crop of the Mountain West for several years running yet Big Ten football is an entirely different animal. Houser jumped at the opportunity to play against some of the toughest competition in the nation.
There’s a modern day gold rush for talented passers out west and the Spartans are coming away from it with quite a prize.