Michigan State football recruiting should close 2017 with a bang after comeback year

EAST LANSING, MI - NOVEMBER 18: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans looks on from the sideline while playing the Maryland Terrapins at Spartan Stadium on November 18, 2017 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - NOVEMBER 18: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans looks on from the sideline while playing the Maryland Terrapins at Spartan Stadium on November 18, 2017 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Mark Dantonio pulled off one heck of a turnaround season in East Lansing and Michigan State football recruiting should benefit in the final month of the year.

Considering the state of the Spartans last year,  Mark Dantonio and company did a remarkable job assembling a solid 2017 recruiting class and getting out to a strong start with the 2018 class. A shocking 3-9 campaign followed by multiple serious off-the-field issues left Michigan State vulnerable to attacks from rivals and back to square one: selling hope.

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Sure, the MSU staff had eight years of results it could point to, but needed recruits to have faith that they were not boarding a sinking ship. That’s as large of a challenge that a coaching staff can face in major college athletics.

Fast forward a year and things look much different for Michigan State on the recruiting front. Or, in other words, things are back to normal following an impressive bounce back 9-3 season. The MSU football brand is strong once again and the Spartans look primed to complete their turnaround with a bang in recruiting. The current 18-member 2018 class has the unique mix of stars and underrated recruits we are accustomed to seeing under Dantonio, but there is an opportunity for MSU to bolster this group with more star power.

Although Michigan State already boasts commitments from four defensive backs, it appears on the verge of securing another from highly-decorated Detroit cornerback Kalon Gervin. MSU did not quit recruiting the Cass Tech product despite his earlier verbal to Notre Dame and, while Oregon is also firmly in the mix for his services, should see its efforts pay off. Aside from the obvious benefits of reestablishing a connection to Cass Tech, Gervin has lockdown corner ability with track speed. Despite producing multiple defensive backs that are starting in the NFL, Michigan State has routinely missed on top-rated corners in recent classes, making the potential Gervin addition a huge coup.

While MSU does not have room for many more recruits in the 2018 class, it’s also making strong pushes for several other highly-recruited players. The Spartans have commitments from two intriguing 2018 receiver recruits and feature a strong core of receivers on the current roster, but are still after four-star Texas product Tommy Bush.

The big-bodied pass-catcher would be the highest-rated receiver to ever commit to MSU under Dantonio (according to the 247sports’ composite rankings) — and he’s a national recruit, to boot. Michigan State was the first program to identify Bush as a star before the accolades and could benefit from establishing a relationship early and sticking with it despite his long list of suitors. As a potential heir apparent to rising senior Felton Davis III, his addition would be immediately impactful.

The Spartans have also been chasing down four-star Cincinnati linebacker Chris Oats for quite some time and appear to be trending in the right direction. While the Winton Woods product is also high on the in-state Buckeyes, nearby Kentucky and national powers Oklahoma and Ole Miss, MSU appears to be in a very good position to land his verbal. Oats may not be the highest-rated player on Ohio State’s board, but if he were to spurn the Buckeyes for MSU, the staff would have to view that as a major win.

Michigan State already has its quarterback commit in four-star Theo Day, but is also very high on Muskegon dual-threat passer La’Darius Jefferson, who recently de-commited from Central Florida.

While the Spartans did not offer Jefferson until last month, the Michigan High School Football Player of the Year and state champion has quickly become a priority for MSU. Jefferson is being recruited to MSU as an athlete, but should get a shot to play quarterback, as well. With an offer from Indiana to play QB and an offer from Nebraska potentially in his future with UCF coach Scott Frost likely on his way to Lincoln, it will be interesting to see what Jefferson likes more: Michigan State or a guarantee he will play quarterback.

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As always, recruiting is a fickle game. MSU is in good standing with all of these players right now, but that could all change by the time this article is published. That said, one thing is for certain. Recruits can be assured, the Spartans are always going to be in the mix in the Big Ten as long as Dantonio is in charge.