New Jersey’s top running back Audric Estime is a Michigan State Spartan after committing to Mel Tucker this weekend. A 6-1, 225-pound pound senior at St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.), Estime has received over 25 offers, and is a big bruising throwback runner with burst. Although in-state Rutgers had built-in recruiting advantages, Estime will take his talents to East Lansing following a summer trek to the school.
“A lot of time went into this decision. I had a lot to think about. Me, my family, my coaches and friends,” Estime told NJ Advance Media Sunday. “After all that, we thought that Michigan State would put me in the best position to fulfill my dreams and goals. And they had the best academic program, too.”
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Estime has long been rumored a Michigan State lean, but when did he actually know he’d pick the school?
“I think I knew a couple days ago, I want to say about Tuesday,” Estime said. “I just woke up and was like, ‘Yeah, I’m ready. I want to be my own man. I’m locked in. I’m going to make it happen.’”
Rutgers was initially branded the team to beat with former head coach Augie Hoffmann now coaching running backs at the school. But Estime’s been on the Spartans’ trajectory since an unofficial visit to East Lansing in July, where he was joined by teammate and fellow four-star Geno VanDeMark.
The players weren’t hosted by coaches (due to the recruiting dead period), but were provided an itinerary which included specific stops they were to make while calling certain coaches at predetermined times to interact virtually. I like to call them Coronavirus age unofficial visits, which circumvent restrictions put in place to keep recruits off campus, but don’t technically break any rules.
“Honestly, that visit my eyes opened up even more,” Estime said. “I said to myself I could see myself playing in this stadium and living in this town. That’s when things started to heat up a little bit.”
But that didn’t make breaking the news to his former head coach any less hard.
“It was super-hard telling (Hoffmann) I won’t be teaming up with him again,” Estime said. “I don’t like to break the hearts of people I love. So it was hard for me and it was definitely hard for him.”
Hence, Hoffmann will likely continue to have a relationship with Estime despite his choice. But Rutgers wasn’t the only school Estime had trouble saying no to.
“So was the University of Iowa,” he said.
But, is the door to his recruitment 100 percent closed?
“I’ll still talk to some schools here and there,” he said. “But, as of right now, I’m locked in (with Michigan State) 100 percent,” he said.
And it all began with a visit.
“The week after that when I was talking with my family about it, I would say things changed,” he admitted.
Up until then, Rutgers led.
Nevertheless, Estime will continue to don green. And he’ll square off against the school for years to come, joined by at least two in-state stars in VanDeMark, who committed on Aug. 22, and Hun (Princeton, N.J.) offensive lineman Kevin Wigenton II, who pledged on April 27.
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Todderick Hunt may be reached at [email protected].