I think how this class is being protrayed by most of the media is painting a false portrait of where things really stand. Yeah, the Spartans have lost some in-state targets, but I think this is a good class up and down so far with a number of good prospects who fit the Spartan system. As usual, Mark Dantonio and company have gone after players who fit the mold of what they do.
Canton McKinley defensive end Se'Von Pittman had offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan and others. He is an athletic, 6'4, 225-lb edge rusher who could play early in passing situations next year.
One that Got Away:
Lombard Montini defensive end Jaleel Johnson recently chose Iowa.
Lima Central Catholic (Ohio) QB Tyler O'Connor is doing well at the Elite 11 this week after impressing us at the Michigan State camp. He's a mobile kid who makes a lot of plays when they break down on film. Now he is showing us that in a camp setting, he can sit and pick apart secondaries from the pocket, albiet in a 7 on 7 setting. He is due for a rankings bump the next update.
Recent commitment MacGarrett Kings is listed as a running back currently, but will be moved to wide receiver in the next update. That is where he performed at Michigan State's camp and that is where he is slated to play in college. A quick, versatile player, he may not quite have the straight line 4.3 speed of Keshawn Martin, but the two are similar in their styles of play. The running back position was not ignored though, as we believe Nick Tompkins may be the most underrated player in this class.
The "Star" linebacker position is one of the more visible and active positions in the Spartan defense, and Southfield-Lathrup's Jamal Lyles could be the next to play that spot. He's an athletic 6'3, 215-lb kid whose offensive performance this summer really opened some eyes. He has all the tools to be great in coverage and surprised us with his physicality on tape. Not to be outdone, Riley Bullough, a high school quarterback and safety from Traverse City St. Francis, showed up to Michigan State's camp having added weight and still ran a 4.65. He'll easily be able to make the transition to linebacker in college. With his work ethic, underrated athleticism, and football smarts, he should work his way into the lineup and have a productive college career.
There are two tight ends committed and they are a contrast in styles, which is perfect. Ridgewood (Ohio) product Evan Jones is a big 6'6, 235-lb kid who is only going to get bigger. At camp, he looked to us like a kid who will end up 255-265 and be, essentially, an extra offensive lineman as a blocker and a short yardage/redzone weapon as a receiver. Josiah Price from Greentown Eastern (Ind.) will be more of a flex guy. A one time wide receiver who grew to 6'4, 235-lbs, he has great natural ball skills.
The two offensive linemen, Benny McGowan and Zach Higgins, both from Ohio, are both run blocking extraordinaires who will have to learn pass blocking in college. Both are tough, physical players though, who will fit with the Spartans' smashmouth style ground attack.
Wide receiver Kyle Kerrick is a kid I think has been lost in the shuffle of all the summer commits. He's big at nearly 6'3 and 185-lbs, and clocked a 4.53 at the Schuman's NUC camp, where we do not typically see a ton of fast times coming out from. He is one of the sleepers of this class so far.
Things just got interest for Monty Madaris, a highly recruited four-star receiver from Cincinnati Moeller. Michigan State was one of the first to offer, but in recent months, Florida State and Michigan have jumped into the mix. Madaris came to camp and worked out despite holding the Spartan offer and several others, a good sign. He had planned to make a summer decision, but we are hearing he may delay that some.
Florida safety Jordan Diggs had an excellent camp earlier this month, and for a four-star with the offers he has to pay his way up to camp and participate, should tell you something about his interest in Michigan State. We felt he was the best prospect at that camp and would be a difference maker should he come to East Lansing.
Defensive end Adolphus Washington, running back William Mahone, and running back Dennis Norfleet are the Scout300 guys we think are still in heavy play for the Spartans. Washington, a five-star, recently put the Spartans in his top group. Mahone and Norfleet both visited this summer and reported that they had good trips.
One need that the Spartans have yet to fill is defensive tackle. We consider four-stars Danny O'Brien, Sheldon Day, and Ondre Pipkins to all be longshots. However, Cincinnati Colerain's 320-lb Trae Clark, who has an MSU offer, is a legitimate possibility.
Another need is offensive tackle. The Spartans are in the top four for Ryan Ward, but if they don't get him, we could see an offer being extended to someone like Logan Dietz.
We believe that the Spartans are in good position with Madaris, Diggs, and have good shots to land potentially Mahone and Norfleet. If they do, it will add a little more star power to a class that is currently undervalued. As usual, a class Mark Dantonio and his crew land may not be the flashiest, but has real value at key positions and a number of tough, hard nosed football players who will make impacts on the field.