This is Denny in for Joe. I had a nice chat today with Brookwood (Ga.) High School coach Mark Crews about recent Michigan State football commit Nick Tompkins.
Tompkins is rated as the 10th-best all-purpose runningback in the country by recruiting website Rivals.com and became the 10th member of the 2012 Spartan recruiting class on Sunday when he committed to MSU. I will post the conversation in a Q&A format, but I will say that Crews had some very nice things to say about the Spartan coaching staff - most notably quarterbacks coach Dave Warner, who has carved out a nice Georgia recruiting niche and was Thompkins' main recruiter.
Here it is:
Q: What led Nick to eventually choosing MSU?
MC: "I think that when you make a decision like that, there's a lot of things that influence your choice. A couple of his friends (Brookwood teammates Andre Sims Jr., Erick Yang) were going to be there, that was definitely one part of it. He had several other people that talked to him as an athlete or receiver or defensive back or whatever. I think (MSU) wants him as a runningback and that kind of turned him on. I think Michigan State in the beginning was one of his top picks. His father played at Wisconsin so they know the Big Ten. I think he's been to nine or ten places and he said of Michigan State 'I think that was just the right place'."
Q: Describe Dave Warner's relationship with your staff and your kids at Brookwood
MC: "Coach Warner does a good job. We weren't familiar with him right away. It's kind of strange we got three guys coming out of Georgia and going to Michigan but he does a nice job and he's a nice guy."
Q: Nick has been labeled as a 'burner'. How does his speed stack up to other players that you've seen or coached?
MC: "We play in the biggest league in Georgia. We played in 15 games and won the state championship in Georgia last year. Nick broke long runs against everybody we played, 50, 60, 70-yard runs against about everybody we played, which is certainly a testament to how fast he is. He was one of the fastest dudes out of anyone that we played. He outruns angles, he outruns people that you'd think ought to be able to tackle him, but he's a special kid not only his speed but in terms of his acceleration. We run a similar offense to Michigan State, we run stretch and zone. ... He sticks his foot in the ground and gets up the field. When he figures out where he wants to go, he accelerates.
Q: On tape, he also looks to be a reasonably good pass-catcher and someone that you have split out wide in some formations. How would you rate him as a receiver?
MC: "That's one thing that he can work and improve on. He can get a little smoother catching the ball. We're a run-first kind of team then what we do when we get people pressed where they can't stop us running the ball is that opens up our playaction game and all the things we do with our runningbacks."
Q: What kind of kid is Nick?
MC: "Just like Andre (Sims), Nick is a good kid. He's got a good family. The buzz word lately is a good character kid and I think Nick is a good character kid."
Q: You mentioned Nick's father played at Wisconsin, was Nick certain that he wanted to play in the Big Ten from the very early stages of his recruitment?
MC: "I think the more he visited, the more he felt like that was where he wanted to go. Going back 25 years, his dad was recruited by Alabama and when Bear Bryant retired he decided he wasn't going to Alabama and went to Wisconsin. (Nick) had some options from some hometown folks and sort of I guess fell in love with the atmosphere in the Big Ten. He decided pretty early on. To be honest, a lot of the bigger schools in the SEC thought that Nick's size as a runningback was probably a factor. UGA, they gave him a little bit of consideration but I don't think they wanted an 185-pound runningback. (The coaches at Michigan State) love his speed. The idea that he can go there and play and the coaching staff, he was impressed with the runningbacks coach at State compared to some of the other places he visited. Playing in that part of the country, you're playing in front of 100,000 every week just like you are in the SEC."
I have also left a message with Nick himself and I will make sure to type up some stuff if I'm able to speak with him. You can see some of Tompkins' junior-year highlights here.