There is something significant going on with Michigan State’s 2019 football recruiting class: It’s filling up. Like, by the hour.
Forget recruiting rankings for a moment — MSU is doing well, though not spectacular on that front. More importantly: Commitments you get this early are usually your top targets. Kids who were Plan A.
Given MSU’s track record of identifying talent in the Mark Dantonio era, landing Plan A is everything. And having 16 commitments by 6 p.m. on June 30 is noteworthy.
The Spartans’ 2019 class is a group critical to sustaining MSU’s program — perhaps beyond Dantonio.
Do the math: If most of these players redshirt as true freshmen, they’ll finish up at MSU in the 2023 season. That’s six seasons away, a few months shy of Dantonio’s 68th birthday. He very well might not be coaching then.
It’s also a class that’ll start to have an impact just as the current crop of young stars depart. It’s a key transition class, one that’ll play a large part in avoiding the sort of nasty, radioactive, crater-sized blip that bit MSU football in the backside in 2016.
So far, so good.
MSU received five commitments in barely 24 hours Thursday and Friday. This, after acclaimed Belleville offensive lineman Davontae Dobbs — MSU’s third five-star recruit of the Dantonio era — committed on Monday.
With Dobbs, Dantonio and his staff showed again that their no-pressure-to-commit approach can set them apart. Dobbs said as much in an interview with the ESPN radio affiliate out of Midland. Offensive linemen are often different than other positions in that they want to feel comfortable and to blend. They tend to find a spot they like and commit early. You can over-recruit a big-time offensive tackle. It appears some of college football’s big boys did. Others made assumptions. MSU played it right.
The latest to pledge to the Spartans: Flint Carman-Ainsworth defensive end Michael Fletcher, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound, three-star prospect with scholarship offers from Michigan and Alabama, among others.
In between Dobbs and Fletcher, MSU received commitments from Ohio running back Brandon Wright, Chicago-area athletes Alante Brown and Anthony Williams, and West Bloomfield receiver Tre Mosley, all three-star kids.
The bookend gets of the week, Dobbs and Fletcher, play the two most important positions on the field, beyond quarterback — and the two positions most in question right now at MSU. Dobbs is MSU’s fourth offensive line commitment in the class, Fletcher the second rush end.
If you examine what went wrong in 2016, you can trace it back to the 2012 and ’13 recruiting classes: The dearth of offensive lineman in 2013, the lack of rush ends that panned out in either class. The 2019 class, thus far, looks like a strong effort to avoid such a plight.
This is also MSU’s first full class to commit post-3-and-9. It’s the first recruiting class I think would have punished MSU if its dreadful 2016 season had been followed by mediocrity or less in 2017.
Kids and high school coaches trusted Dantonio and his staff when MSU’s coaches insisted the severe fall-off was a blip. In that regard, last season’s 10-win bounce back might go down as the most consequential season of the Dantonio era, if the program again rises to unprecedented heights or sustains itself beyond him.
Nothing in recruiting is guaranteed. MSU was reminded of this two years ago as it parlayed big-time success into a class with 10 four-star kids. The top of that class has been dismantled by scandal and transfers. It was an entitled group, but one with kids coveted heavily by other programs.
MSU somehow survived that — mostly by choosing wisely with its less-heralded 2016 recruits and by hitting big with its 2015 class.
It’ll be several years before we can judge this 2019 crew. But these first 16 commitments are prospects MSU identified as priorities. And, for the most part, they were kids with other good options.
That’s a nice combination to have in a class.