Don’t expect this kind of excitement on National Signing Day next year.
Michigan State signed a massive 2017 recruiting class, inking and announcing 23 players on Wednesday. The Spartans will be much more particular and choosy in 2018.
As it looks right now, Mark Dantonio’s squad looks to lose at least 11 scholarship players after the 2017 season. Depending on the future of running back L.J. Scott and a few others, that number could certainly be higher.
So this will be a smaller class, one which Dantonio would love to wrap up early by prioritizing just a few big names. The Spartans have already landed commitments from three 4-star prospects and have their sights set just as high for the remainder of the group.
Let’s take a look at how the recruiting situation stands at each position.
As usual, Michigan State would like to land one QB. At one point, 3-star St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.) standout Kevin Doyle looked like the clear favorite of the staff. But a recent offer for 3-star in-state gunslinger Theo Day seems to have pulled him just about even.
Things can certainly change, but these two stand high above the rest in terms of the most likely to end up at Michigan State.
This will likely become more of a priority after Michigan State could not land another running back to join signees Weston Bridges and Connor Heyward. The Spartans would love to have 4-star Westerville (Ohio) South all-purpose back Jaelen Gill, the high school teammate of Spartans signee Dominique Long. Recently-offered Tavion Thomas seems more likely, though.
Michigan State isn’t projected to lose any scholarship receivers after next season, and the Spartans may be content with 4-star commit Joseph Scates out of Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar. But as long as 4-star prospects Micah Jones and Blue Smith remain possibilities, they’ll be heavily targeted.
When 4-star Pickerington (Ohio) Central TE Trenton Gillison pledged to Michigan State on Sunday, it gave the Spartans exactly what they needed at the position. As long as they can keep him committed, they should be all set.
This will be one of the top priorities going forward, as OL coach Mark Staten will need a big, athletic tackle to replace Dennis Finley. Traverse City (Mich.) West’s Ryan Hayes has been a fast riser, and either he or recently-offered in-state OT Jalen Mayfield look most likely to fill the void.
In the interior, Michigan State fans would love to see 3-star legacy recruit Jacob Isaia, the grandson of MSU legend Bob Apisa. Of course the state’s top prospect, Marquan McCall, would not be bad at all if the Spartans can land him.
As per usual, Michigan State will be looking into Ohio to fill its needs here. The Spartans didn’t get good news when 4-star DE target Tyreke Smith picked up an Ohio State offer, but luckily for them, top target Malik Vann remains without a Buckeyes offer. They’ll likely contend with Notre Dame for him.
The Spartans will likely land a defensive tackle, too, but we’ll have to wait and see which targets emerge.
A lot of linebacker depth will be lost after the 2017 season in Chris Frey, Shane Jones and Jon Reschke, and though the Spartans mainly look to the 2017 class to replace their production, they’ll still look to land one or two linebackers in this class.
Again, in-state targets seem the most likely. Four-star Cass Tech OLB DeAndre Square loves the Spartans, and fellow Detroit-area prospect Elijah Collins recently picked up an offer.
Michigan State got a head start by landing 4-star Pickerington Central DB Xavier Henderson, who could likely play either cornerback or safety. To join him, they’ll target 4-star Cass Tech cornerback Kalon Gervin, fellow 4-star cornerback Braden Lenzy and 3-star safety Michael Dowell (brother of Michigan State’s Andrew and David), among others.