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It’s time to talk about the defensive line. Again.
Seldom has there been a day lately when it hasn’t been discussed, and with good reason. National Signing Day on Wednesday is fast approaching, and Michigan State has spots open. Though wide receiver is also an area of an interest for the Spartans as they close out the 2018 class, coach Mark Dantonio chose only to mention the defensive line as a remaining priority after signing 20 prospects in the early period.
And as you might expect, things are heating up down the stretch. We noted Thursday how Bolingbrook (Ill.) defensive tackle Dashaun Mallory, a 3-star prospect in the 247Sports composite ratings, was expecting a visit from Dantonio on Friday. He remains the most likely finishing touch to a defensive line that includes three 2018 signees.
At the same time, 3-star Clearwater (Fla.) Academy International defensive end Habakkuk Baldonado was on Central Florida’s campus for his final official visit. He had considered not even taking any other visits and coming to a decision during the week, but he ultimately chose to take a trip across the state to see UCF.
Though this visit could change things, Baldonado has Michigan State and Pittsburgh at the top of his list. The battle pits Dantonio against his former defensive coordinator and Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi, for the 6-foot-5, fast-rising senior. Baldonado had considered a Nebraska visit but told Land of 10 he lost interest in the Huskers.
Baldonado took a trip to Michigan State from Jan. 19-21, when he was the lone official visitor on campus. He said he left impressed by the people he met, who showed a lot of love and appreciation but didn’t pressure him into making a decision.
And entering the final weekend before Signing Day, there’s another defensive lineman to keep an eye on, even if there’s a low chance he ends up at Michigan State. Three-star Timpview (Provo, Utah) defensive tackle Jackson Cravens announced he plans to commit to the school of his choice on Saturday.
Committing on Saturday‼️
— Jackson Cravens (@JacksonCravens) February 2, 2018
All nine 247Sports Crystal Ball picks on Cravens’ page predict the nation’s No. 46 defensive tackle will choose Utah. He took a visit to Michigan State in September and was hosted by his cousin, Spartans defensive end Mufi Hill-Hunt. The Spartans’ chances to land Cravens’ commitment looked solid in the weeks to follow, but he was intent on waiting to take the rest of his official visits, and their momentum gradually waned.
Three-star Salt Lake City East DT Tennessee Pututau also remains in play for the Spartans after Dantonio and defensive tackles coach Ron Burton visited his school on Tuesday. Utah is also heavily favored to land his commitment, as he has one brother playing for the Utes and two more signed to do so.
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