Michigan State football making up for key losses in transfer portal

It's no secret that a lot of players have left Michigan State Football via the transfer portal following the coaching change from Mel Tucker to Jonathan Smith, but that should be expected. Following Spring practice, plenty of players many thought would be big contributors in 2024, have left the team and went elsewhere. While that may upset some fans, Coach Smith certainly hasn't let it stop the team from getting better.
UCF v Texas Tech
UCF v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

The transfer portal gives and takes, and Jonathan Smith has been doing a heck of a job making up for players leaving Michigan State football.

I'll admit the departures of Simeon Barrow and Derrick Harmon at defensive tackle hurt in the beginning, especially after seeing where they ended up at Miami and Oregon, respectively. Just because they are gone, doesn't mean the Spartans aren't better off now.

Coach Smith and the rest of the staff have gotten right to work filling the holes left by Barrow and Harmon.

The Spartans have since filled in the holes with three players I have a feeling are going to fit in nicely in East Lansing with Ru'Quan Buckley (Nebraska), Jalen Satchell (Old Dominion), and most recently Ben Roberts (Oregon) who was very likely pushing to be a starter on the Ducks' defensive line.

It appears that Michigan State made a trade, if you will, with Oregon: Harmon for Roberts.

Those aren't the only holes the transfer portal has given the Spartan defense, as all of Spartan Nation was shocked by Jaden Mangham's departure from the secondary, and later the fallout from his family via social media. It appears that Smith has found his replacement in Nikai Martinez.

Martinez joins the Spartans as a transfer from UCF, where he was a key cog in the Knights' secondary in 2023, where he played and started 13 games. His sophomore campaign was really strong with 54 tackles, and team-leading three picks. Which sounds like a great replacement for Mangaham who led Michigan State with four interceptions in 2023.

That was something that lacked in the previous regime was interceptions by the secondary, and it sure appears that Smith has made a point to get guys that can take away the ball on defense.

The offensive side of the ball hasn't had as many dramatic post-spring transfers, with the biggest being Geno VanDeMark who followed former offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic to Alabama.

Like most of the players who left after the spring, they were doing so to chase money and I wish them all the best.

The Spartans, meanwhile, look to be better off with guys like that no longer in the program.

Of course, the number of transfers is high, but the new coaching staff has answered the bell every time.

That is why I truly believe this team is heading in the right direction. Smith is going to get Michigan State football back to where Mark Dantonio had the Spartans nearly a decade ago.

Fall camp is still months away, but it's clear that Michigan State is going to keep making moves to better themselves and I'm all in.

The program looks to be the healthiest it has been in years. Let's keep it rolling, Spartans.