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The emotion in Jacob Isaia‘s commitment
On Saturday night, Jacob Isaia pondered the question that he probably didn’t need to think about for a while.
Do I commit to Michigan State, or do I keep on waiting it out and look at other schools?
The early signing period won’t arrive until Dec. 20 and the regular period not until Feb. 7. He had schools such as Vanderbilt and Virginia in pursuit. But after what he saw Saturday, game day, on his official visit to East Lansing, the 3-star Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) offensive lineman felt the timing was right. So on Sunday, he told the Spartans coaches he wanted to commit.
“It feels great,” Isaia, rated a 3-star prospect by the 247Sports composite, said afterward. “I’m just so happy that I don’t have to think about where I’m going anymore or think about the pros or cons of any school. I’m 100-percent committed.”
Isaia’s commitment gives Michigan State three offensive linemen in its 18-player 2018 class — the others being 4-star prospect James Ohonba and 3-star prospect Dimitri Douglas. His decision likely fills the last spot that will be offered to an offensive lineman.
Isaia had visited Michigan State several times before, but this one felt different. As an official visitor, he got a closer look at the Spartans’ preparation for their game against Iowa, which they won 17-10.
“I got to see how a game starts and what the preparations are for a game,” he said, “how everyone’s included and no one’s singled out, how all the coaches care for everybody, especially [offensive line coach Mark] Staten. He really cares about his players.”
But Isaia also got to experience something unlike any other recruit. He watched his grandfather, Michigan State legend and two-time All-American fullback Bob Apisa, take the Spartan Stadium field as honorary captain.
That same weekend, Apisa got inducted into the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame. He’d seen his teammates, the late Bubba Smith and George Webster, enter with the inaugural 1992 class. When he found out he’d be joining them, he was overcome with emotion.
“I cried. I got emotional, and I told [Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio] that,” Apisa said, choking up. “Sometimes people wait their turn, and sometimes years go by. And thinking about it, in 25 years, I made it. I made it.”
Apisa found himself overcome with similar emotion when he learned Isaia would be committing. Family from all over the country had come in to support him and got to share in his grandson’s big moment as well. The tears flowed once again.
“He cried,” Isaia said. “He was so happy. He was thanking all the family members, everybody.”
Although Apisa wanted Isaia to choose Michigan State, he didn’t push it. Isaia said the decision was “all me” and that his grandfather didn’t play a factor. But it sure felt good to see how proud Apisa was.
Isaia didn’t take the decision lightly. At the same time that he made his verbal commitment, he chose not to visit any other schools. Of course, there’s no obligation to do so, but he seemed more than happy to end the process.
“Everything is shut down,” he said.
Where Jacob Isaia fits on the Spartans
Apisa glowed as he spoke about his grandson prior to his own induction ceremony. And he wasn’t asked; he just wanted to talk about Isaia.
“He’s a big boy,” Apisa said Friday. “He’s about 6 [feet], 3 1/2 [inches], 275-280 [pounds]. He’s quick as a cat. And they want him as an interior lineman.”
But where along the offensive line would he fit? Long listed as a guard on 247Sports, his projected position recently switched to center. He ranks as the 16th-best prospect in the nation at that spot.
“They said that I look athletic enough and I look like I can get much bigger to play all the positions,” Isaia said.
That seems to be the case with most linemen the Spartans bring in, whether offensively or defensively. Both Ohonba and Douglas look as though they could end up at guard or tackle.
Where the Michigan State 2018 class ranks
On Friday morning, Michigan State’s 2018 class ranked 36th nationally and seventh in the Big Ten per the 247Sports composite. Then Isaia, Ohonba, and 3-star running back Elijah Collins all committed.
Now the Spartans have skyrocketed. Their class ranks 27th nationally and fifth in the Big Ten. Both conference foes they passed, Wisconsin and Minnesota, have more commitments. But the Spartans have a higher rating per prospect.
Michigan State will likely look to land three more players in the class. A wide receiver and a defensive lineman look like probable additions. A running back or a defensive back could put the finishing touches on the class.
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