Why MSU legacy Kaden Strayhorn is so keenly interested in Michigan football and more

It was all the way back in 2021 when Michigan football offered then-in-state product Kaden Strayhorn — interesting both because of the timing as well as his family pedigree.

In June 2021, Strayhorn hadn’t yet made it to high school, but offers from top-flight schools started rolling in. About to start his freshman year at Novi (Michigan) Catholic Central (he has since transferred to powerhouse program IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida), the now four-star (per Rivals and ESPN) offensive lineman was just scratching the surface.

The more interesting tidbit was he’s the son of Jason Strayhorn, a former Michigan State defensive tackle who is the color commentator for Spartan football games on the radio broadcasts alongside George Blaha.

Yet, it’s Michigan that appears to be making the bigger push while MSU languishes.

The younger Strayhorn is set to embark upon his slate of official visits this week, with three scheduled: Ohio State on May 31, LSU on June 14 and Ann Arbor on June 21. He’s less familiar with the first two than the latter, having lived in the area and also having visited for the 30-24 win over the Buckeyes in November.

But with this upcoming Michigan visit, this one in official capacity, Strayhorn is excited to continue to build upon the preexisting relationships along with learn more about how the Wolverines can develop him as the next great center to come out of Ann Arbor.

“I would say what excites me definitely is just the fact that they have such a great offensive line room history,” Strayhorn told WolverinesWire. “And with coach Moore obviously being the old offensive line coach and now the head coach, a really big thing for me, me and him have been talking for like three years now. And then coach Newsome, when he got the job, he called me like the next day, so we’ve been in contact ever since then. And he calls me probably two, three times a week, we text all the time.

“So I would say it’s just the relationship that I have with them and then how they are developing the offensive line position and especially the center position. Guys like Cesar Ruiz coming from IMG to being a first-round pick at center — and that’s where I am. So that’s pretty much what attracts me to the school.”

Strayhorn is also excited to peek behind the curtain to see what changes, if any, there are in Schembechler Hall, as this will be his first time on campus since the coaching changes that happened in January.

Michigan fans long have been leery about the idea that the son of such a prominent rival could ever end up wearing maize and blue. However, times have changed; we’ve seen Wolverines become Spartans and Spartans become Wolverines, even just in the past few weeks via the transfer portal.

But when it comes to Strayhorn’s recruitment, his father has never dissuaded him from potentially choosing his nemesis. In fact, he’s been nothing but supportive.

“Honestly, my dad supports it, 100%. He’s always been the type of parent to not make me — like ever say to me like, ‘Oh, you have to go to Michigan State,’ or, ‘You have to go to so-and-so school.’ That’s not how he is,” Strayhorn said. “It’s more so that he wants me to go where I want to go and that I can create my own legacy somewhere else. So he’s not moreso what I think the internet perceives it as, like angry — not at all. He’s actually very open to other schools other than Michigan State.”

At the moment, Michigan, LSU, and Ohio State are Strayhorn’s top schools as they’re the three who have official visits set up. Georgia, Alabama, Florida State and Colorado are also recruiting him hard at the moment. But when it comes to MSU, there’s no plan to take an official visit.

Not because he’s already so familiar with the program. But because Strayhorn says Jonathan Smith and the new coaching staff in East Lansing have not exactly opened the door for him.

“Michigan State, obviously, they’re my first offer, but since this new coaching change that they had, they’ve been very scared to recruit me because of certain offers that I have — like Georgia and Miami, stuff like that,” Strayhorn told WolverinesWire. “They feel that they can’t compete to get me so the way that they are is like if they feel they can’t compete then why try at all? I think it’s kind of silly, but that’s how it is with them. And, everybody’s been saying, ‘Why hasn’t he scheduled his official visit there?’ And that’s why.”

Strayhorn will take two more official visits fitting in the gaps in his June schedule. Then he’ll weigh all his options and figure out which school is best for him with a July commitment on the docket.

When it comes to his decision, it’s pretty clear-cut what will be the deciding factors.

“It’s going to be development. It’s going to be about where the heads are, the headspace of the offensive linemen there in the room,” Strayhorn said. “It’s going to be what how the coach is, it’s going to be about what type of schemes they run. How do they feature their center? It’s going to be about the pedigree of the offensive line room. And it’s going to be — every school obviously has the facilities and the depth. It’s about what’s in the facility. So, definitely the coaches and development that’s the main thing I’m looking for. And I would say just who’s gonna develop me into a good young man. And I think the three schools I’ve locked in with are definitely offensive line coaches and head coaches that can develop me into the young man I want to be so that’s definitely what it would be.”

On3 and 247Sports both have Strayhorn ranked as a three-star prospect with ESPN and Rivals having him as a four-star. ESPN is the highest, having him rated as the eighth-best interior offensive lineman in the 2025 recruiting cycle.

Strayhorn also broke down WolverinesWire what he’s looking forward to when it comes to his visits to Ohio State and LSU. You can read what he said about each below.

Ohio State

Photo: Isaiah Hole

“With Ohio State, it would just be being on campus. I haven’t really been on campus there a lot. I’ve only been there once for a camp and that was a year ago when they offered me. And then I haven’t been there since or before. So it will just be — my dad tells me a lot of good things about it. It’ll just be me getting on campus and seeing the atmosphere, going to the stadium and see how it is. I’ve never been so it’ll be that.

“And then what attracts me is coach Frye and coach Sollenne, for sure. I think that they’re both really good coaches. And I think that coach Frye is very good at developing the offensive line position. And I think that Ohio State’s history and pedigree of it says a lot. So that’s why I set the visit up with them.”


Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

“For them I’ve never been there before. They came on the Monday we had an A-day practice and the offensive line coach is super close with my offensive line coach. And, he came and he actually only flew just to see me and he talked with me and my dad for like two hours and offered me and told me, ‘We want to do this thing and get you here.’

“They think, based off what happened with their center — so they had they had a center Charles Turner from IMG actually, and they wanted him to come back. And so he told him he was going to come back. So the guy that they already had moved behind him into the portal. And then a few weeks later, Charles decided to enter the draft. So they literally don’t have a true center. They have a guard playing center right now for this upcoming year. So the coach sees the position they’re in and sees me as the fix.

“So that’s what interests me in them and then also just — if you see they have the No. 1 offensive line in college football this year. Two first-round tackles. And it’s just the pedigree of what they’ve had before. And, you know, it’s Louisiana State University – it’s a big deal. So I think that’s definitely what drives me to be interested in taking the official visit and I’m looking forward to that one for sure.”

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire