Michigan State fended off USC, Ohio State, Auburn, Alabama, Michigan and just about every other top college football program in the nation for one player: Belleville (Mich.) 2019 five-star offensive lineman Devontae Dobbs.
Dobbs, ranked No. 13 in the nation, is officially pledged to be a Spartan.
“Michigan State stayed true throughout the whole process,” Dobbs said. “Comparing them to other schools… like Michigan kept talking to me after I got offered by Michigan State. But, once I got the offer from Michigan, they stopped talking to me, which is why they weren’t in my top 8.”
“MSU was true to me and I kept that interest and built a relationship with them. When it came down to decision time, they were real high on my board. I picked Michigan State because it felt right.”
Sometimes simple is best
“I don’t want to be the center of attention. I don’t like having all the attention on me. When I was on my official visit to USC, we had a photoshoot and I didn’t like it too much. They were yelling, ‘Ahhh yeah’ and that kind of stuff. That’s why I didn’t really like the recruiting process that much.”
Dobbs went on to have similar experiences as the recruiting progressed.
“I didn’t like recruiting because coaches lied to me. They did stuff that wasn’t ever going to happen. Places like Ohio State had coaches that told me, ‘You’ll come in and play a ton as a freshman.’ When I was at USC, coaches walked around calling me ‘Big Daddy’ and they were grabbing juice for me. I’m used to doing that myself. My grandma was there and I was getting our food and drinks, but the coaches were trying to do it for us.
“I didn’t like those false actions because I know it won’t be like that when I get up here.”
But Mark Dantonio and the Michigan State coaching staff made him feel normal and respected. They were different than the rest, leading the 6-foot-4, 304-pound offensive tackle and offensive guard to commit. Dobbs’ primary recruiter was MSU offensive line coach Mark Staten.
“No coach on the Michigan State coaching staff pressured me into making a decision. They never said, ‘Do you think when you get done with this or that, you’ll be able to make a decision.’ All the other schools said, ‘When you get back from the visit, we will be looking for a decision.’ Michigan State never pressured me. They let it come naturally. I just felt comfortable with them.
“I could trust them. I was comfortable with them. I knew things about them. At Auburn, I didn’t know anybody that’s there. But, I know people at Michigan State that have been through the process and graduated, so they told me and gave me the real about the school.”
Hey, Devontae… Why not Michigan?
Dobbs received his offer from Michigan on August 6, 2016. It was his 15th offer and he ended his recruitment with 30 total. Michigan State, however, extended the scholarship on June 15, 2016, almost a full two months before the Wolverines.
After Michigan offered, Dobbs scratched his head at the way coach Jim Harbaugh’s staff treated him.
“It felt like Michigan thought they were superior and the big boss to Michigan State. They thought, ‘You have an offer from Michigan, so you should be going to Michigan since you have the offer.’ It was as if they didn’t need to recruit me or better their relationship with me. That was the first thing they did wrong.
“When I went up there to talk to them, I felt uncomfortable because of the way they acted, talked and just were.”
Then, Dobbs told the staff they were like robots. He was officially done considering the Maize and Blue.
“The last meeting I was in, I told them they acted like robots and I just wasn’t comfortable around them. I said it wasn’t a place I wanted to be.”
Looking ahead to the college years…
Michigan State currently has 11 commits in its 2019 recruiting class. Dobbs and his teammate Julian Barnett lead the group in overall rankings.
“I want to try to get the highest ranked recruiting class that Michigan State has ever had,” Dobbs said. “We can start with the foundation and then when we all get there, I want to work hard with my class and do what we need to in order to make the team better.”
Barnett is a 4-star cornerback prospect, who also plays for Belleville. He is a 6-foot-2, 189-pound nightmare for opposing wide receivers. He is ranked No. 54 in the nation and No. 3 in the state.
“People want to think that (Julian affected my decision). He put out that tweet saying, ‘Commitment coming soon,’ but he was talking about someone else and he won’t even tell me who he’s talking about. When he posted that, it was before he even knew I was getting ready to commit.”
Dobbs is excited to be on-campus in East Lansing with his current teammate but does not want to room with him. He thinks Barnett would say the same.
“It feels good, but hopefully I don’t have to room with him. I’ve been with him for four years and we love each other, but we don’t always get along. We are like yin and yang. He said I’m too messy for him, but he complains too much and is a primadona.”
Now that he is committed, Dobbs is done with recruiting. Besides MSU coaches, good luck getting ahold of him.
“I’m done visiting. I’m 110 percent committed to Michigan State. When I was in Little League, I never went to another team. When I was in high school, I never transferred. Now, I’m committed and I’m not decommitting or going anywhere else.
“My dad always told me to stay true to my word. When I was in Little League for the Detroit Titans, my coach never went out and got other players. He built it from the ground up. We went from the C-league to the B-league to the A-league.”
What is #LOWlife?
When looking at Dobbs’ commitment tweet on Twitter, the first hashtag is “#LOWlife.” He said it stands for “Lack of Worries Life.”
“LOW Life is something I can do because I will go in and focus. There’s been such a big release since I made my decision. It was something that was brought to me by someone who told me not to let my life be consumed by one thing, like a commitment, because I have a whole life to live. He brought it to me my freshman year and I’ve been living by it since.”
“It’s been a really big roller coaster, but it’s also going to be one of the most memorable moments of my life, especially when I look back on all the accomplishments I made and what I had to get through to get here.”