Michigan State has the nation’s No. 27 recruiting class and the fifth-best in the Big Ten, per the 247Sports composite rankings. The Spartans have commitments from 18 prospects, with the most recent coming from 3-star offensive lineman Jacob Isaia on Oct. 1.
Coach Mark Dantonio and his staff likely will aim for 20 or 21 prospects in the class. How will the Spartans fill out the rest of their class on the defensive side of the ball? Here are Land of 10’s latest projections:
* indicates current commitment
Defensive end: Parks Gissinger*
The son of a former NFL offensive lineman and successful businessman, Parks Gissinger gets it done in the classroom and on the field. The 3-star Chaminade (West Hills, Calif.) standout describes himself as a relentless player who will ask for a quick rest if he doesn’t have the energy to play 100 percent. He doesn’t like to take off a single down and loves to get after quarterbacks.
Defensive end: Zachary Slade*
Out of the 3-star Olentangy (Lewis Center, Ohio) twins to commit to the Spartans in late June, Zachary Slade is the lighter of the two. At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, he projects to play out on the edge. Michigan State has made a killing recently with linemen from the Columbus area, both on offense and defense. Slade and his brother are next up.
Defensive line: Jacob Slade*
At 6-4, 255 pounds, Jacob Slade could end up at defensive end or tackle. He appears more likely to play inside, though. He was the first of the twins to pick up a Michigan State offer after their performances at the Spartans elite camp. Once his brother picked up an offer, they committed together within days.
Defensive tackle: Dashaun Mallory
It’s taken longer than many thought for 3-star Bolingbrook (Ill.) senior Dashaun Mallory to come to a decision. He picked up an offer after the same camp as the Slades and has maintained that Michigan State is his favorite. Will that result it a commitment? It may come down to the Spartans’ decision on whether to take him.
Outside linebacker: Jeslord Boateng*
Jeslord Boateng patiently awaited an offer from Michigan State after having been in contact with the staff for a long time. Once the 3-star Dublin (Ohio) Coffman outside linebacker got it in May, he set up a visit for June. Once he got on campus and liked what he saw, he committed the following day. After that, he worked to reel in a commitment from the next player on this list.
Linebacker: Chase Kline*
Chase Kline got plenty of love from the Michigan State coaches during the recruiting process, but what really took him aback was how his fellow linebacker commits wanted him so badly, even though he would challenge them for playing time. The 3-star Chardon (Ohio) native feels he can play any linebacker spot, but will most likely get his start on the outside.
Middle linebacker: Edward Warinner*
Edward Warinner gives Michigan State yet another Columbus-area commitment. The 3-star Olentangy Liberty (Powell, Ohio) star and son of Minnesota offensive line coach Ed Warinner has long loved the Spartans and became a member of the class in April. He might have committed even sooner, but he needed to recover from a torn ACL and show the staff what he could do.
Cornerback: Chris Jackson*
Early in high school, 3-star recruit Chris Jackson thought basketball might be his future. But once a Lassiter (Marietta, Ga.) assistant recruited and groomed him to play cornerback, he caught on quickly. His freakish athleticism certainly has helped. He also possesses great length, making him an intriguing prospect with which the Spartans can work.
Cornerback: Davion Williams*
Davion Williams could still hypothetically make basketball his future. He rates higher in the 247Sports composite as a guard than as a cornerback. Nevertheless, he committed to Michigan State’s football program hours after competing at its elite camp. At 6-2 with speed and agility, he’s an imposing figure for wide receivers who go against him.
Defensive back: Kalon Gervin
What a pickup this would be. One of the first to show interest in the 4-star Detroit Cass Tech cornerback, Michigan State continued its pursuit during Gervin’s short-lived commitment to Notre Dame. Now the Spartans have put themselves in a great position for when Gervin announces his decision on Dec. 2. Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon and Virginia Tech are in the running as well.
Safety: Michael Dowell*
Very few people were shocked to see Michael Dowell commit to Michigan State. His brothers, Andrew and David, are in their third seasons with the Spartans. Once the 3-star recruit arrives, he likely will follow David’s path and play at safety or find his calling at cornerback. He has the versatility to do both, as does the final player on the list.
Defensive back: Xavier Henderson*
He’s the last player listed, but Xavier Henderson became the first 2018 prospect to commit to Michigan State when he made his pledge in September 2016. He would be the lone commit until January. What a way to start things, as Henderson is a 4-star prospect capable of playing a handful of positions on both sides of the ball. He’ll almost certainly end up in the secondary, but whether at cornerback or safety remains to be seen.