Trieu: For Grand Haven’s Ashton Lepo, Michigan State target, ‘ceiling is tremendous’

Grand Haven offensive tackle Ashton Lepo has seen his recruitment grow to include several…

Trieu: For Grand Haven's Ashton Lepo, Michigan State target, 'ceiling is tremendous' 1
Trieu: For Grand Haven's Ashton Lepo, Michigan State target, 'ceiling is tremendous' 2

By Allen Trieu
 |  Special to The Detroit News

During the winter months, Grand Haven offensive tackle Ashton Lepo has grown from 240 to 260 pounds and seen his recruitment grow to include several Power Five schools.

Baylor and Indiana are on that list, but the one that really caught his attention was Michigan State.

“This offer means a lot to me,” he told Spartan Tailgate’s Corey Robinson. “I have been a State fan my whole life, and to finally get this offer, I’m just beyond blessed. Love the coaches, I stand for what Coach (Chris) Kapilovic says and love the culture.”

With these offers just arriving and a dead period limiting his ability to visit schools, Lepo is not rushing anything at the moment.

“I think that this really impacts my recruitment process,” he said of the Spartan offer, “but I’m not committing anytime soon, just taking my time with this process.”

Grand Haven head coach Mike Farley had coached at the school from 2006-2014, then left for several years before returning as coach last spring. He met with the players on a Tuesday, and that Friday, they shut down due to COVID-19, so his first chance to work with Lepo in person was in June. He leaned on the coaches who had been there to catch him up on his returning players.

“He was a JV football player the year before and was banged up and missed a couple games,” Farley said. “We had a change offensively — they were Delaware T last year — so the spread, that opened things up for him to learn pass protection. He had to learn how to work a double team and climb to a linebacker, pulling and trapping. His athleticism and being 6-foot-7 helped him. Then his confidence level of being in the weight room and the confidence that comes with getting stronger every week, every day, all those things accumulated.”

That has continued into this offseason. Farley says Lepo was 235 pounds when they first met in person last summer. He was just weighed at 266 pounds at the school.

“He’s put on 25 pounds and looks very good,” Farley said. “He still has a slender frame to him, so he has an opportunity to put on some serious weight.”

In Farley’s first stint at Grand Haven, he had All-American offensive tackle Dann O’Neill, who played at Michigan before finishing his career at Western Michigan. He now has another heavily recruited tackle in Lepo, although the two are different at the same stage of development.

“Ashton’s got tremendous room for growth,” Farley said. “Danny was 6-8, 300 pounds, already really thick and strong where Ashton, it’s just astonishing how he gets better every week that we see him. He’s only been our offense one season — seven games this past fall — so the ceiling is tremendous.”

From a junior varsity player learning a new offense to a Power Five recruit in under a year, Lepo’s trajectory is still headed upward.

“I’m proud of how he’s handled it,” Farley said. “He’s matured and taken it one step and a time. I’ve only known him since June, but he’s so thankful for the opportunities. He’s very humbled by it, and it drives him. He has that fire now because I told him now that he’s gotten that recognition, he has a bull’s-eye on his chest. Everyone is going to say, ‘Hey, I want to beat this D1 kid’ and he’s worked extra hard knowing that.”

247Sports ranks Lepo a top 20 junior prospect in the state.

Spartans offer Tennessee junior

Greenbrier (Tennessee) class of 2022 wide receiver Derek Taylor was offered by Michigan State.

A 6-foot-4, 190-pound prospect, Marshall and Eastern Kentucky also have offered, but the Spartans are his first Big Ten or Power Five offer.

Taylor had 22 receptions as a sophomore, then followed that up with 16 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns good enough for him to make All-Robertson County.

Georgia freshman adds MSU offer

Michigan State’s staff has been mining for young talent cross the country and one who is certain to be a national recruit is Buford (Georgia) athlete Khalil Bolden.

Already 6-foot-2, 182 pounds, Bolden runs track and has played both wide receiver and safety.

Florida State, Georgia and Florida Atlantic have offered.

Bolden was a MaxPreps First Team Freshman All-American. Buford was the 6A state champions in Georgia.

More information

Ashton Lepo profile

Derek Taylor profile

Khalil Bolden profile

Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.

Our special thanks to:detroitnews.com

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