Mark Dantonio Lands Top Tier Signal Caller Brian Lewerke for the 2015 Class
Another highly touted quarterback recruit has opted to become a Spartan.
On Saturday, Brian Lewerke, out of Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, Arizona, became the next member of Michigan Stateâ€™s 2015 recruiting class.
So how exactly did head coach Mark Dantonio convince a top prospect to forgo the warm weather of the Southwest for the colder climate of Michigan?
Lewerke spoke with Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. to discuss what swayed him, as well as academics, service, and family.
Winning the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl doesnâ€™t hurt when recruiting big-name prospects. Such achievements signify a program is nearing the top. But how did Lewerke, a Seattle, Washington native now living in Phoenix, even become aware of Michigan State?
â€œOne of the guys who works with one program at my high school is the brother of Coach [Brad] Salem, so that was how the relationship started,â€ Lewerke said. â€œI donâ€™t have any relatives or anything up there. I just kind of felt like it was a good place for me.â€
Lewerke spoke with the MSU coaching staff and was instantly impressed.
â€œCoach Dantonio and Coach Salem are both good, Christian guys. With me being a Christian, that was a good foundation,â€ Lewerke said. â€œAnd obviously their recent success [helps], having won the Rose Bowl. They definitely know what winning is about and their program is on the rise.â€
The Spartan coaching staff was equally enamored of Lewerke. The high school junior has all the qualities of an exceptional quarterback. Lewerke flings the football with ease, often exhibiting his big arm. Some of his ability comes from playing baseball, as Lewerke was once a pitcher.
â€œI played baseball and football from about fourth grade and then I stopped playing baseball and started focusing on football around seventh grade,â€ he said. â€œOne thing I need to work on is my accuracy because sometimes I focus on throwing the ball too hard. But my arm strength is pretty good, thatâ€™s a big thing for me.â€
Lewerkeâ€™s poise in the pocket is just as impressive, as the youngster always keeps his eyes downfield. Lewerke has the ability to scramble outside of the pocket if necessary and use his quick feet to glide by opposing tacklers.
â€œIâ€™m naturally good at it, but Iâ€™ve worked at it a lot. The head coach at my high school calls me as cool as a cucumber in the pocket,â€ Lewerke said. â€œI donâ€™t get too fazed with the stuff going on around me. I just step off and throw it.
â€œOnce you get to college, the guys are bigger and faster. You have to protect yourself a little more than in high school. Iâ€™ll make sure I donâ€™t try to run anyone over, but I wonâ€™t be afraid to use my feet.â€
When asked to pick his best attribute as a signal caller, Lewerke took a moment before deciding.
â€œMy footwork and moving in the pocket,â€ Lewerke said. â€œThe game speeds up a lot once you get to college, so thatâ€™s one of my biggest things that Iâ€™ve worked on. Thatâ€™s what most quarterback and college coaches have mentioned about me.â€
In searching for the best college to call home for four or five years, Lewerke hoped to find a storied school with a history of developing quarterbacks. While the 6â€™3 signalcaller currently runs a spread zone, Lewerke sought a program with an offense that translates to the NFL, as his long-term goal is to play on Sundays.
â€œOne of the big things I was looking at was how well their offense translates to the NFL. And with quarterbacks like [Brian] Hoyer and Kirk Cousins, thatâ€™s definitely proof that they know what theyâ€™re doing with their quarterbacks,â€ Lewerke said. â€œ[MSUâ€™s] pro-style offense is what is mainly run in the NFL, so thatâ€™s a good translation between college and the NFL. That was one of the big points I liked.â€
Lewerke also wanted to play for the right coaching staff. Dantonio and his fellow coaches fit right into Lewerkeâ€™s vision.
â€œI was born in a Christian family with a Christian background,â€ Lewerke said. â€œThey always raised me to be a good Christian guy, and thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m trying to bring to Michigan State.â€
â€œBeing a Christian, you want to get other people to join you in your walks, and them not being afraid about that was a big thing, it was pretty important to me.â€
Having world-class facilities doesnâ€™t hurt, either.
â€œWhen I went up there, thatâ€™s one of the things I looked at. I was really impressed with their facilities and their stadium: they were very big,â€ Lewerke said. â€œThatâ€™s something youâ€™re always happy to see. With the locker room, obviously theyâ€™re remodeling that right now, so it will look really good when itâ€™s done, too.â€
While Lewerke might bring joy to Spartan Nation quite soon, he also plans on making an impact off the field, too.
Academics are very important to the young quarterback. An avid student, Lewerke plans on majoring in either physics or mathematics.
â€œI have a 4.3 GPA and Iâ€™m just trying to keep that up the rest of my college career,â€ he said. â€œWhen you get to your senior year, you tend to slide a bit, and Iâ€™m just trying to avoid that. My studies are a priority.â€
Lewerke also believes in service work.
â€œA couple of years ago, my church went to Haiti to build a house for one of the orphanages they have down there,â€ Lewerke said. â€œWe got to hang around with some of the kids, and they have a rough background with not having any parents. It was good to be able to bring hope to some kids that frankly didnâ€™t have much.â€
However, before beginning his journey at Michigan State, Lewerke must finish his junior year of high school and finish out strong in his senior year. He has a busy schedule ahead of him in the meantime.
Lewerke plans on going to several prestigious camps over the summer.
â€œI attended one of the Elite 11 camps in January and Iâ€™m hoping to make it to the national one in June,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m going to a couple of other camps this summer, and hopefully Iâ€™ll be invited to the Elite 11.â€
A major part of MSUâ€™s recruiting class for 2015, Lewerke also wants to work on bolstering the ranks.
â€œIâ€™m definitely going to try to bring some guys up there,â€ Lewerke said. â€œThe better team you have around you, the better it will make you look. It will help the team also. I will definitely be trying to get them to focus more on Michigan State and get them to commit also.â€
Lewerke will continue to work hard in preparation for the day when he will finally be able to don a Green and White jersey.
â€œItâ€™s definitely honoring. I canâ€™t wait to be able to get up [to East Lansing] again and see them. Iâ€™m just looking forward to when Iâ€™ll be graduating high school and Iâ€™ll be able to go up there and bring another Rose Bowl back to them.
Lewerke will be joining Carpenter tonight on Spartan Nation Radio.