3. On recruiting locally
"It's been intentional even where we started this January in recruiting. Every coach was in the state of Michigan, going out and seeing coaches and players, slowly began to branch out, still within the 3-4 hour window. There are a lot of players and a lot of good coaches in the neighboring states so we're intentionally doing that."
How we skipped over so many red flags with Mel Tucker is stunning. Jonathan Smith's message here is the complete opposite of how Tucker and his staff treated recruiting. They would only pay attention to the high-level kids in the state which, don't get me wrong, you need to pay attention to high-level kids, but Dantonio made a Hall of Fame career scooping up guys that weren't high level and we overlooked by programs like Michigan and Ohio State and made those schools regret not signing them (looking at you, 2015 Michigan and Ohio State).
A great example is Gaylord linebacker Brady Pretzlaff. MSU scouts identified this guy early on, but Tucker nixed his recruitment because he was only a three-star. Smith sees potential in this kid and Pretzlaff called it a "dream come true." It's players like Brady who are the backbone of the program and perfectly embody the "low ego, high output" mentality.
Look, recruiting rankings are great and somehow make millions of dollars. Recruiting is important and teams like Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, and other national title contenders consistently rank in the top 15. But there are plenty of teams that rank in the top 15 and can't win. Talent alone cannot win football games -- just ask the Florida schools, Texas A&M, and USC.
Smith already has the pedigree of turning a desolate wasteland of a program into a Power Five conference contender. He puts in the work, the kind that the public can see, as well as the work we don't know about because he doesn't make a show about it. He's not a brand, he dresses like a suburban dad in photo shoots, and recruits guys that will fit in and thrive here, regardless of what some expert thinks his talent level is.