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It’s only been a year since Michigan State signed its last class of recruits, but the 2018 signing class has been in the making for much longer. The staff has known about several of these players since before they even reached high school.
On Wednesday, it finally comes to an end. The last of the unsigned prospects will officially become Michigan State football players. It will be rather anticlimactic, as the Spartans already added 20 recruits during the first-ever early signing period in December. But there are still spots to be filled.
Michigan State will drop in the recruiting rankings on Wednesday given how much of its class is already secured, but coach Mark Dantonio and his staff won’t care. If they get the guys they need, the job will be complete inside Spartan Stadium.
Keep an eye on these storylines going into National Signing Day.
Rounding out the wide receiver corps
Michigan State was set to bring back every scholarship wide receiver from an offense that averaged 215.2 passing yards per game in 2017. Then backups Trishton Jackson and Hunter Rison announced plans to transfer, opening room for new recruits.
It seemed as though Ja’Vez Alexander and Julian Major, two receivers who committed over the summer and enrolled in January, would fill up the position. But Michigan State had other plans. The Spartans kept recruiting other targets and ultimately landed a commitment Saturday from Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) slot receiver Jalen Nailor, a 3-star senior in the 247Sports composite rankings.
Here’s how things almost certainly will turn out. Nailor will sign first thing in the morning, as he told Land of 10 he intends to do. He will be the final receiver in the class and will fight for playing time as a freshman behind Darrell Stewart. Longtime target Tommy Bush, a 4-star Samuel Clemens (Schertz, Texas) wideout, will choose to go elsewhere.
But strange things can happen on Signing Day, so the best option is to wait and see. Bush still listed Michigan State among his finalists alongside Baylor, Georgia, Ole Miss and Texas. He plans to announce his decision at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2, as noted below. The 6-foot-5 standout ranks 37th nationally among 2018 wide receivers.
Please cone support, everyone is welcome! pic.twitter.com/IPbZnXUppV
— 11 (@TheTommyBush11) February 5, 2018
Shoring up the defensive line
Michigan State’s defensive line class is a bit less certain. Parks Gissinger, Jacob and Zach Slade have already signed, but the Spartans have been working hard to add to that group. Unlike at wide receiver, they haven’t landed a commitment since the early period.
Longtime defensive tackle target Jackson Cravens committed to Utah on Saturday. Three-star Rome (Ga.) defensive end Jamarcus Chatman had planned to take an official visit but ultimately traveled to Florida State instead. That leaves Bolingbrook (Ill.) DT Dashaun Mallory, Clearwater (Fla.) Academy International DE Habakkuk Baldonado and Salt Lake City East DT Tennessee Pututau as the only realistic options.
Pututau is right on the edge of realistic. He has a brother playing for Utah and two more signed to do so. Pulling him away from the Utes would be a shocker. Baldonado had a strong official visit to Michigan State, but Land of 10 predicted he will ultimately choose former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi and Pittsburgh. It’s not a given, but his recruitment has been trending away from the Spartans. Baldonado plans to make his announcement at his school at 10:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
The decision is nearing!!!! Come join us tomorrow, 10:30AM at Clearwater Academy for National Signing Day to see @abba1999’s decision!
It is down to his top 3 choices! pic.twitter.com/s1pG2sfqJo
— CAI Knights Football (@CAIKnightsFB) February 6, 2018
That leaves Mallory. He has wanted to commit to Michigan State since the summer. He just needs the green light to do so. Will he get it on Wednesday? There’s no bigger question right now when it comes to the Spartans’ recruiting class.
Mark Dantonio’s availability
Traditionally, Dantonio has held a press conference on National Signing Day to introduce his newly inked class and answer questions about its members. Additionally, Michigan State would bring out its assistant coaches for additional analysis.
But he already did all that during the early period. He spoke about the 20 players he signed and put on hats from all of their high schools. The assistants came out to share their impressions. This time around, Michigan State is dealing with turmoil within the athletic department and the university as a whole. With only two players likely to sign, will it be worth holding a press conference that will inevitably lead to a lot of questions outside of recruiting?
That answer reportedly is no. A Michigan State spokesman confirmed to Land of 10 that Dantonio will not speak to the media on Wednesday. The Spartans coach already flatly denied any accusations that he mishandled allegations of sexual assault or violence against women, as outlined in an ESPN report.
And since Dantonio isn’t around, that likely means Michigan State’s early enrollees won’t speak to the media, as they have often done. Alexander, Major, Theo Day, Dimitri Douglas, Kalon Gervin, Xavier Henderson and Edward Warinner are the seven signees already on campus.
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