2013 Opponent Recruiting Recap: Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State Quarterback Connor Cook
Dec. 29, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Connor Cook (18) throws during the second half against the TCU Horned Frogs during the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium. Michigan State beat TCU 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

From 2000-2010, the point differential between Michigan State and Notre Dame was just over 6 points for the victors, with the Spartans winning 7 of those 10 contest. In the last two years though, Kelly has turned Notre Dame’s fortune around, winning the last two games of the series, and outscoring Michigan State 51-16 in doing so. With their All-American running-back Le’Veon Bell running for a combined 280 yards and 4 touchdowns in his first two games in 2012, Michigan State was ready to pay the Irish back for the 31-13 beat-down the Irish delivered in South Bend the year before. As all Irish fans know, it was Notre Dame’s defense that dominated though. The Irish defense, led by All-American ILB Manti Te’o, controlled Bell, allowing just 70 yards on 19 attempts. They not only kept Bell out of the end-zone, but the entire Spartan offense, eventually winning in East Lansing 20-3.

Although coach Mark Dantonio has amassed a 51-28 record over his 6 years as Spartan Head Coach, he has struggled lately in the recruiting rankings. Finishing with the 41st ranked class in 2012, and the 38th class in 2013, Michigan State has failed to add talented depth, which is an obvious necessity to help their program take the next step. Coming off an impressive 2011 campaign that saw the Spartans go 11-3, and a 33-30 win against Georgia in the Outback Bowl(3OT), most State fans had high hopes for 2012, but would soon realize that the inability to move the ball consistently on offense would eventually lead them to a disappointing 7-6 2012 record, and more questions than answers.

First Impressions

Unlike Michigan, Michigan State is still in the future plans of Notre Dame as the Irish start to make the transition from the Big East over to the ACC. How much they are involved in Notre Dame’s future plans, well, that is still a question that needs to be answered. We know for sure that Notre Dame and Michigan State will meet on September 21st in South Bend this year, and we also know that Michigan State will not have the services of All-American running-back Le’Veon Bell, as he has opted for to forgo his Senior year, and make a go of it in the NFL. The Spartans will return Junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell, but after a season that saw him throw just 13 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions, we are not sure how excited Michigan State fans are to hear that. They also return their top 2 receivers in Bennie Fowler and Keith Humphrey, but have lost the services of tight-end Dion Sims, as he has opted for the NFL also.

While numbers and rankings do not always tell the whole story, based off of Dantonio’s last two classes, there isn’t a lot to be excited about. Out of the 18 kids that faxed in their LOI to Michigan State this year, only 3 of them were above 3 stars, which matches his number from 2012. With that being said, Dantonio does have a history of getting a lot out of his players, but probably not enough to challenge the Irish in this early season match-up.

Biggest Hits

Shane Jones – (4* LB – Cincinnati, OH)

Jones is a big hitter, with speed to match. He can defend the run and pass, and still has room to add more bulk. At 6’1 220, he will need to add some bulk, but just enough to where his speed and quickness are still assets. Jones picked the Spartans over Michigan, Louisville, Nebraska, and Stanford.

Jon Reschke – (4* LB – Bloomfield, MI)

A former tight-end, who also played linebacker, Reschke is considered a dominant run stopper, with very good leverage, and a very quick first step. While not many offers came his way, Reschke picked Michigan State over Michigan and Toledo.

Damion Terry – (4* QB – Erie, PA)

A dual-threat quarterback, who is probably more comfortable in the pocket. Terry has very good size at 6’3 210, and has nice zip on his deep ball. Although Terry had offers from Illinois, Duke, and Boston College, he decided to make East Lansing his home for the next 4 years. Do not let the lack of offers on the table fool you, Terry had a lot of interest and should prove to be a very good quarterback for the Spartans.

Biggest Misses

Michigan State is a different type of school, as the they typically recruit more for their system and less on stars and grades. The biggest issue is the struggle they have landing the top talent in their own state.  The Spartans were only able to land 3 of the top 15 players in the state of Michigan, while watching big Brother have their pick. Of course they offer kids like David Dawson, Shane Morris, and Wyatt Shallman (Top 15 Michigan Prep -All chose Michigan) scholarships, but rarely is their invitation to the dance, ever accepted. If Dantonio could ever find a way to keep developing the talent like he has proven he can do, and crack the top 15 in national recruiting occasionally, he might actually be able to challenge Urban and Brady on a more consistent basis in the future.

Notre Dame vs. Michigan State Recruiting Battles

Notre Dame Michigan State
Greg Bryant(RB)
Devin Butler(DB)
Steve Elmer(OL)
Mike Heuerman(TE)
Cole Luke(DB)
James Onwualu(ATH)
Jaylon Smith(LB)
Eddie Vanderdoes(DT)
Démétrius Cooper(DE)

The Spartans at least attempted to go after some of the same players the Irish landed, but with extremely limited success, and as is visible above, only one out of the nine players both schools were interested in found their way to East Lansing. The one recruit they did land in Demetrius Cooper, if you believe certain recruiting rumors, the Irish were not overly interested in. Of the Midwest powers in Notre Dame, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio State, Michigan State just is not a strong position of power, and their failures are evident if you look at the head-to-head recruiting battles against the before-mentioned schools.

Overall Summary

The Michigan State program has enjoyed some limited success in recent years, most notably in 2010 and 2011, but just not enough to ever push them into the world of major relevance. Dantonio and staff typically field a strong defense, and if you take last year out of the equation, will assemble an offense that is at least adequate . The biggest problem is lack of consistency, and Michigan State’s inability to take advantage of strong years on the field, and matching that off the field in terms of recruiting. We understand that certain schools do have to recruit for their system, but even if Michigan State is included in that category, it seems that the Spartans should be able to achieve a bit more success come NSD.

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  1. Will he push for it to go to Fox? I wouldn’t be surprised. Fox already has the rights to the ND-Stanford game this year, but not sure they would want to fork out the money for the PAC12 and Notre Dame rights together – Just my opinion though.

    1. Good points Bluengold34,

      I am not sure where this is headed either, however, Regis is the man in my view! We can use all the positive commentary ND Football can muster.

      Congrats Regis, I am thrilled for you and Foxsports 1. I would definitely like to see an exclusive “Foxsports 1” contract on the horizon for ND Football like no other!

      Here comes our beloved Regis!

      PS: Bye-Bye NBC! 5th place is it now? Too bad! Hahaha!

  2. Well guess who has a new 1 hour sports center gig? “Regis Philbin!” And it’s called “FOXSPORTS 1.” Do you think Regis will campaign for a new ND Football TV contract?

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