Position: Offensive Tackle
Ht/Wt: 6'5" / 300 lbs.
Location: Traverse City West - Traverse City, Michigan
Offers: Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin
With a talented crop of in-state prospects emerging as Michigan targets in the class of 2016, Thiyo Lukusa may headline the bunch. As one of the largest players in the conference, Lukusa experienced a somewhat successful season (5-5) before Traverse City West was eliminated by regional power Rockford in the playoffs.
Today began like any other day for sophomore offensive lineman Thiyo Lukusa. After a couple snow days to kick off 2014, Lukusa returned to school yesterday. His first few days back, though, haven't gone quite as expected for the big time (6'5" and 300 lbs.) prospect thanks to some extra curricular activities that took place over break. "My principal and my uncle were in my school and they told me to come down because they wanted to talk to me," said Lukusa. "I thought I was in trouble and that it was because I was drifting in the parking lots over break. The parking lot is just so wide open. and they said that was the reason. Then they got on me really hard and said they had it on camera and that the police were getting involved. They said Officer McKinley, a policeman in our area, was on the phone and wanted to talk to me. Then coach Hoke was actually on the other end and said 'Hey Thiyo, how are you doing?'"
Thanks to a crafty set-up on the part of coach Hoke, this offer was completely unexpected by Thiyo and quite literally came out of thin air. "Oh my gosh, I felt like I got punked," said Lukusa. "I talked to coach Hoke for a good five minutes and said how I thankful I was for receiving the offer. It was a great phone call." This was Lukusa's second offer, with the other coming from Michigan State, but it is certainly not the last offer that he would receive as several schools are already very involved in his recruitment. "About five minutes ago I talked to Wisconsin and they offered me too."
Partly due to the elaborate set-up, Lukusa was legitimately surprised to hear that he would not be reprimanded for drifting in the school parking lot, but instead has a scholarship offer to one of his favorite schools waiting for the taking. "I was in shock and didn't really know what to say," said Lukusa. "I said thank you to coach Hoke about seven times and that I would really think about it. It's been a crazy day."
There has been speculation in recent weeks that Michigan State may have gained an advantage by extending an offer to Thiyo before the Wolverines had the chance to, but this is actually not the case. Lukusa went on to speak about his feelings surrounding both in-state schools. "State didn't really gain an advantage by offering me first, it's more about what they did during the season," said Lukusa. I love Michigan and I love Michigan State and the relationship that I've built there. But they've had a really good year at MSU and they were impressive. They're making me think a lot now. I'll be going to visit them just as much as Michigan here on out. They've evened out for sure." Lukusa is tentatively set to visit for Michigan's basketball game versus Minnesota at Crisler on March 1.
This offer continues what has been a very busy 24 hours for the Michigan staff. The Wolverines traded Al Borges for former Alabama staff member Doug Nussmeier at the offensive coordinator position, a move which has made waves since it was announced late last night. "I saw that last night," said Lukusa. "I had a basketball game and got on the bus to start scrolling through my Twitter feed. I saw a bunch of rumors and things that said he may possibly be the new coach, but then it was like 'wow, it actually happened'."
Lukusa doesn't appear close to making a decision any time soon, but it seems like there is a strong chance he will stay in-state, attending college at either Michigan or Michigan State. It is very early, but these two schools stand out the most, though Lukusa mentioned that he values all the attention he is receiving from schools and will treat each school fairly. A strong season from Michigan in 2014 may be the most direct way to reverse the ground Michigan State made up during the season, and I ultimately believe that he will be a Wolverines when it is all said and done, joining Erik Swenson in Michigan's 2016 class.