Michigan State football’s national reputation is growing exponentially


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Remember those John L. Smith days? What about the Bobby Williams era? Thinking back to those rough times in Michigan State football history, it’s hard to believe the Spartans have gotten to where they are today: an elite program.

All the debates around the college football world seem to center on which programs are elite and which are still not there yet. Michigan State is name that always pops up — on the “not there yet” list.

However, the Spartans have been building a brand under head coach Mark Dantonio. The brand is simple: if you want to win championships, come to Michigan State. Sure, the team located on the banks of the Red Cedar hasn’t won a national title in 49 years when Duffy Daugherty was still roaming the sidelines, but this team is there.

If there was a possibility of being so close to a title that it physically hurt, this Michigan State program would be in the hospital right now.

Under Coach D, Michigan State has gone from laughing stock to yearly title contender. He has built the program from unlovable 5-7, or worse, every year type of team to a 10-wins-or-bust type of team.

When you think about elite college football teams, you think about ones that win 10 wins every year, consistently. What has Michigan State done? Well, how about win at least 11 games in four of the past five years, going 53-14 overall and 32-8 in Big Ten play since 2010.

Jan 1, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Michigan State Spartans coach Mark Dantonio hoists the Leishman Trophy after the 100th Rose Bowl against the Stanford Cardinal. Michigan State defeated Stanford 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The results are there, and like Coach D has said, Michigan State isn’t selling hope anymore, it’s selling results.

What are recruits saying about MSU? If you listen to any interview with top recruits about the program in East Lansing, you’ll hear nothing but good things. The name “Michigan State” is starting to be mentioned with the likes of Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State, while seemingly eclipsing the name ‘Michigan‘ since the Ann Arbor rival has experienced a major step back pre-Harbaugh.

Guys like four-star WR commit Cam Chambers have called Michigan State “home” and Messiah deWeaver had mentioned a “brotherhood” while saying MSU is elite. Uncommitted players like Donnie Corley and Josh King beam with excitement when asked about Michigan State in an interview.

Ten years ago, you would be hard-pressed to see the Spartans even gain traction with a four-star recruit outside of the state and now, it’s almost a regular occurrence.

Let’s take a look at how Dantonio’s classes have gradually gotten better because of the increase in national perception since his first year at Michigan State. All team recruiting rankings are based off the 247Sports composite.

  • 2007: No. 50 nationally (top recruit: Michael Jordan, 4-star, DE)
  • 2008: No. 44 nationally (top recruit: Fred Smith, 4-star, WR)
  • 2009: No. 26 nationally (top recruit: Edwin Baker, 4-star, RB)
  • 2010: No. 21 nationally (top recruit: William Gholston, 5-star, DE)
  • 2011: No. 32 nationally (top recruit: Lawrence Thomas, 4-star, LB)
  • 2012: No. 33 nationally (top recruit: Aaron Burbridge, 4-star, WR)
  • 2013: No. 36 nationally (top recruit: Jon Reschke, 4-star, LB)
  • 2014: No. 25 nationally (top recruit: Malik McDowell, 5-star, DE)
  • 2015: No. 22 nationally (top recruit: LJ Scott, 4-star, RB)
  • 2016: currently No. 25 nationally (top recruit: Justin Layne, 4-star, WR)

There’s two things that those rankings tell us. One, Michigan State’s recruiting has been taking off in recent years, and two, Dantonio has done so much with classes ranked in the 30s.

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  • Anything in the top 25 is top-tier, and Michigan State is starting to do that on a regular basis. However, it’s just beginning. The Spartans’ 2016 class is just six players deep as of right now, but there are a handful of four-star players, among others, who will likely be picking the Green & White within the next couple of months.

    Chambers and deWeaver have vowed to make this class elite, and it’s starting to look that way. While we may thank deWeaver, Chambers and Abdul Adams for putting in hard work trying to lure these top recruits, it’s the name that has made it so easy for them to do so.

    Without the brand growing at such exponential rates, the effort put in by the trio of future teammates would be all for none.

    Dantonio is building an empire, and college football should be very, very worried.

    Go follow our future recruits on Twitter: @MSUDreamTeam16.

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