First-year Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker is flashing some serious recruiting potential. Is it a sign of things to come?
When Mel Tucker took the Michigan State job, he inherited a 2021 recruiting class with zero commitments and only a calendar year to turn that around.
It wouldn’t be easy, however, as Mark Dantonio steered the program in an unfortunate direction after two seven-win seasons and a handful of mediocre recruiting classes back-to-back. The Michigan State brand for football wasn’t as attractive to recruits as it was five, or so, years prior.
But Tucker was considered a “top-tier” recruiter when he was hired by the Spartans and that was going to be tested immediately.
Tucker took over after National Signing Day with a tall task of kickstarting the 2021 class ahead of him without having those relationships in the Midwest that Dantonio had. And then a few weeks later, COVID-19 hit and in-person recruiting was completely shut down.
Imagine taking over a program with zero commitments in its upcoming class and then not being able to recruit in person three weeks later for the foreseeable future. It had to have been similar to a drowning feeling. Like a “maybe I should just take any commitment I can get” feeling.
And his recruiting started slow, but he picked up a handful of commitments in the month of April when spring ball would usually happen, but it, too, was cancelled.
Then things went quiet for 3-4 months and everyone was back to judging Tucker harshly, mocking his media-appointed distinction as an elite recruiter. Rival fans had a field day and it was just getting started as Tucker had a fringe-top 60 class in the nation and one of the three worst rated groups in the Big Ten for 2021. He heard all the negativity.
When August started, a corner seemed to have been turned.
Tucker flashed that incredible recruiting potential, landing raw three-star Tennessee defensive end Alex Okelo, four-star offensive lineman Geno VanDeMark, three-star Louisiana-based safety Jah’von Grigsby and then four-star New Jersey running back Audric Estime.
While the recruiting class rankings may not show it, Tucker is showing what he can do when he’s given a chance to prove himself. The Spartans have a top-25 rated class for 2021, according to Rivals, and it’s 54th in the nation, according to the composite.
If the recent trend continues for the remainder of the class, MSU could finish somewhere near the top 30.
And not only is he picking up steam with a couple of four-star pledges but he’s recruiting nationally, landing guys from Tennessee, New Jersey, Florida, Texas and Maryland. That’s the type of recruiting that builds a consistent winner.
Things are looking up for Michigan State and while the 2021 class may not be the most impressive, just wait until 2022.