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August 4, 2006Paul Simkovich was elated when close friend Jack Cornell Jr. made public his intent to join him in Michigan State's 2007 recruiting class.
Simkovich was also a little bit relieved. He doesn't have to keep a secret anymore.
"Jack told me in early July that he was coming to Michigan State, but made me promise that I wouldn't tell anyone," said Simkovich. "I did what he asked me to do. I kept my mouth shut and now I am very happy to be playing with him. Very excited."
Simkovich and fellow Spartan commitment Keith Nichol were among the first people to learn that Cornell was publicly committing to Michigan State. Both players were excited to learn of the Illinois standout's decision. But Simkovich was especially pleased by Cornell's decision because he now has a clearer idea of who he will be playing with for the next five years in East Lansing.
"The thing that I like is that we are all talented players and we know each other well," said Simkovich of Michigan State's two other three-star offensive line commitments, Cornell and Darrell Davis-Budanauro. "I think a lot of good things are going to come from this class."
Simkovich, a guard, hopes that he will eventually start next to Cornell, who is one of the most athletic tackles in the nation.
"That is a very exciting possibility," said Simkovich of the prospect of starting alongside Cornell. "I think the fact that we are friends will help us in that situation because playing the offensive line has a lot to do with technique but it also has a lot to do with chemistry."
Simkovich first met Cornell when the two were standing in line to register for Michigan State's June Camp. At camp, the two players were inseparable. Since that time, they have text messaged each other daily and talked frequently by phone.
"Jack just started talking to me," Simkovich said. "He is a fun guy to be around and we became friends quickly."
The opportunity to play with Simkovich, says Cornell, was factor that gave Michigan State a decided advantage over in-state Illinois.
"The opportunity to play next to a guy like Paul Simkovich for most of my career is something I am really looking forward to," Cornell said. "With me at tackle and Paul at guard, we should do pretty well on our side of the line."
Even after Simkovich learned of Cornell's decision in early July, he kept on singing the praises of Michigan State.
"He did a lot of recruiting, just in case," Cornell said. "After coming back from camp, I knew that I wanted to come to Michigan State. But it was probably good that Paul was in my ear a little bit. On most days I was sure I wanted to be a Spartan, but sometimes you wake up and wonder if it is the right choice because all of the other schools are good schools and I could see myself fitting in at all of them."
While working closely with the Spartans' newest commitment, Simkovich was impressed with Cornell's ability.
"It is hard to pinpoint what he is the best at because he does so many things well," Simkovich said. "I think his body placement really makes him good as a tackle. He is always able to place himself in great spots."
Ironically, Cornell announced his commitment on Simkovich's birthday, July 31.
"I know that he didn't know it was my birthday," Simkovich said. "It's just kind of weird that he announced on that day. I guess it means that he made the right decision."
Cornell hopes that both he and Simkovich will be on campus in East Lansing for Michigan State's night game against Notre Dame. Like Simkovich, the Quincy Notre Dame standout plans on playing the role of recruiter with some of the top talent that will be on-hand to watch the Spartans and Fighting Irish renew their storied rivalry.
"During the football season, I am going to be very busy," said Cornell, "but you want the best players going to the same school you are and I'll be doing whatever I can to make guys feel welcome."