There seems to be a renewed sense of optimism in the Michigan State fan base.
It’s Michigan week. Anything can happen. At the same time, the men’s basketball team kicks off its season Thursday with an exhibition game against Northwood.
With that, let’s take a look at a more positive arrangement of questions in this week’s recruiting mailbag.
Will the Saginaw train continue with Brian Bowen?
Jason Richardson. Draymond Green. Brian Bowen?
It’s certainly a possibility. Bowen, a 5-star wing, hails from Saginaw, Mich., but he currently plays alongside some of the nation’s best at La Lumiere, an Indiana prep school.
Bowen recently made what feels like his umpteenth trip to MSU for Michigan State Madness. It’s gotten to the point where his choice to visit just depends on how he’s feeling that day. He’s always welcome at East Lansing — not much planning is needed to make a trip happen.
We’ll learn a lot in the next week, when Bowen makes back-to-back official visits to Arizona and UCLA. What does it mean that he’s getting two of these done in five days? Well, it could show that he’s ready to put pen to paper when the early signing period begins Nov. 9.
But let’s not look too much into it. Maybe it’s just convenient. Either way, these two teams serve as a threat to MSU for Bowen’s services, but it’s also very unlikely he has a relationship as strong with them as he does with the Spartans.
Is Josh Langford is being overlooked compared to other freshmen?
I’ll take this as a recruiting question because Langford hasn’t played a second of college ball yet. It does seem that he’s a bit overlooked considering his status as a 5-star recruit, right?
That’s what happens when your fellow freshmen are two well-known Michigan natives and a hard-to-miss big man from Ohio. Langford, a 6-foot-5 guard, probably doesn’t immediately grab one’s attention, partly because he seems more introspective than outspoken.
He could have a significant impact, though, mainly because of his defense. Being able to defend in the Big Ten is a big adjustment for freshmen, but Spartans coach Tom Izzo has already lauded Langford’s abilities on that end of the floor.
Additionally, he crashes the glass well for a guard and can create opportunities for himself and others by slashing to the rim. Whether he can consistently hit an open jumper will be a big part of his freshman campaign.
What’s the biggest need for State in the immediate future?
Let’s switch to football. I assume that’s what this question is about. If not, I’ll say big men, because the hoops program needs them.
As for the gridiron, it’s hard to argue anything other than the defensive line. This is a group that has struggled mightily to get after the quarterback or stop the run. Right now, it can’t do either.
And next year, the Spartans will probably lose stout defensive tackle Malik McDowell, who will likely be a very high pick in the draft. How will they make up for that? Well right now, they’ve got defensive end commits in Jacub Panasiuk, Lashawn Paulino-Bell and Donovan Winter, but no one expected to play the tackle spot.
Ideally, you could bulk up a projected defensive end or see how an offensive lineman does on the other side of the ball. Matt Carrick, for example, is projected as an offensive lineman but has played on defense quite a bit for Massillon (Ohio) Perry this year.
Surely the Michigan State coaches hope defensive line issues will be solved before the 2017 class has started to make a significant on-field impact, but there’s never a bad time to build a position up through recruiting.
Who will be the most important visitor for the Spartans this weekend?
This leads us back to the last question, because in my view, the most important visitor comes in the form of a defensive line prospect.
That is, if he shows up. 247Sports reports 4-star lineman Deron Irving-Bey will be in attendance. However, an attempt at confirmation went unanswered, so we shall see.
Irving-Bey is a hugely important visitor for several reasons. First, of course, the Spartans need talent in the trenches, and the Flint (Mich.) Southwestern senior can play many different spots. Secondly, the two top competitors for his commitment seem to be the two teams that will play this weekend.
Michigan now has five commits projected to play on the defensive line, so maybe Irving-Bey could find more opportunity with the Spartans. But MSU will have to give him some sort of reason for excitement with its defensive line play this weekend if it hopes to woo him.
Will this poor season hurt next year’s recruiting?
Tough to say. The biggest impact will probably be seen in the 2017 class, as the Spartans try to reel in some big names to wrap things up.
However, if Michigan State gets back to playing like it generally has under Mark Dantonio, recruiting should be successful in the 2018 class. Players will see this season’s performance as a one-year blip and want to jump back on the train.
If there’s a consequence to this season, it will immediately be seen in recruiting. But that shouldn’t carry over too significantly. However, if by “next year” you mean the players who will come in as freshmen next year, then yes. Certainly, yes.
Even current commits have agreed to that. Players see a team lose and respond by losing interest. It happens, and you have to deal with it.