On the banks of the Red Cedar, recruiting never stops. We’re here every step of the way to keep you informed with our daily notebook. Recruiting questions? Comment below or direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll do our best to get them answered.
Michigan State’s defensive lineman search
Michigan State has only two remaining positional needs in the 2018 class. That much is clear.
The Spartans would like to bolster their wide receiver corps, which already includes Ja’Vez Alexander and Julian Major, both 3-star signees in the 247Sports composite ratings. Though none have exhausted eligibility or announced plans to depart for the NFL, two Michigan State wide receivers — Hunter Rison and Trishton Jackson — have announced plans to transfer, opening up room to build depth through youth.
Two possibilities remain: 3-star Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) speedster Jalen Nailor and 4-star Samuel Clemens (Schertz, Texas) wideout Tommy Bush. Nailor declared himself “all in on MSU” after an official visit over the weekend, but a verbal commitment has not come. Bush, on the other hand, looks like a long shot, with Baylor, Georgia and more still after him. Nailor, a teammate of Spartans signee Jacob Isaia, looks far more likely to end up in East Lansing, Mich.
But the most important remaining need for this Michigan State class, which already has 20 signees, is on the defensive line. Coach Mark Dantonio even joked that when his phone rang during his early signing period press conference, he hoped it was a defensive lineman. It wasn’t, and he’s searching for a fourth commitment to join 3-star Chaminade (West Hills, Calif.) DE Parks Gissinger and 3-star Olentangy (Lewis Center, Ohio) twins Jacob and Zach Slade.
It’s clear who wants to take a spot. Dashaun Mallory, a 3-star Bolingbrook (Ill.) defensive tackle who also officially visited over the weekend, has long considered Michigan State his favorite and hasn’t changed his tune. Evidently he made his plans to commit clear to Spartans players as well, because fellow Illinois native and MSU defensive tackle Naquan Jones tweeted Saturday, “Commit watch,” while referencing a recruiting pipeline from Illinois. Should Mallory commit and sign, the Spartans will have added a recruit from Illinois in six straight classes.
— Naquan Jones 9️⃣3️⃣ (@thealmightynay) January 13, 2018
But Mallory has to wait. He told Land of 10 he hopes to commit by the end of the week after he was told on his visit that the coaches want to conduct a final evaluation. It seems like a safe move on the staff’s part because Mallory isn’t likely to spurn the Spartans for doing so. It’s his dream school, as he has stated many times. The need for academic clearance, though, kept him from taking a visit throughout fall.
And while that saga continues, Michigan State plans to bring in a defensive line recruit for the second straight weekend. Habakkuk Baldonado, a Rome native and Clearwater (Fla.) Academy International senior, told Land of 10 his plans to depart for an official visit on Friday have not changed. Last Friday, the 6-foot-5 defensive end received a visit from Michigan State offensive line coach Mark Staten on the first day of the latest contact period.
“He just said that they are really interested in me and they wanted to be the first to meet me,” Baldonado said.
— Habakkuk Baldonado (@abba1999) January 17, 2018
Assistant defensive backs coach Jesse Johnson followed up Staten by visiting Baldonado on Wednesday. But Baldonado does not yet hold an offer from Michigan State as he does from Central Florida, Cincinnati, Illinois, Nebraska, UConn and more. He hasn’t gotten an indication of what might lead to one either, and he added that he will see on his visit. He will be taking that with his mother, who still lives in Italy. Baldonado has lived with a host family since moving in June. The two of them will get a closer look at a program that has caught Baldonado’s eye in recent weeks.
“Michigan State is showing me a lot of love,” he said.
After that, the Spartans are expected to bring in Jamarcus Chatman, a 3-star Rome (Ga.) defensive end. Chatman has long held an offer from Michigan State, but only recently has the staff turned up its pursuit in the wake of his de-commitment from Tennessee. Chatman ranks 29th nationally among 2018 defensive tackles, but his brother told Land of 10 the Spartans are recruiting him as a defensive end.
In the meantime, defensive tackles coach Ron Burton remains hard at work. He visited Salt Lake City East High School on Wednesday, per coach Brandon Matich. It’s the home of 4-star defensive tackle target Tennessee Pututau, who took his official visit in December, as well as 3-star junior defensive tackle Apu Ika, who holds a Spartans offer.
National Signing Day is Feb. 7, and though most of Michigan State’s work is done, the staff has plenty to accomplish and might just spend as much time on airplanes as in bed.
Sheldon White hits the road
We haven’t heard much from Sheldon White since his promotion to executive director of player personnel and recruiting in June. He has quietly gone about his business. On Wednesday, though, we learned a bit about his whereabouts.
White, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, and played football at nearby Miami (Ohio), was back in the area visiting Springfield (Ohio) High, located just outside of Dayton. There he checked in with coach Maurice Douglass, who played in the NFL at the same time he did.
— Maurice Douglass Sr (@moedouglass7_sr) January 17, 2018
Douglass coaches his son, 4-star junior defensive back Moses Douglass, whom Michigan State offered in November. Douglass ranks 28th nationally among cornerbacks in the 2019 class.
Michigan State already has two 2019 commitments from recruits who could end up playing in the secondary: 4-star Belleville (Mich.) cornerback Julian Barnett and 3-star Morgan County (Ga.) athlete Jordan Huff. Both have remained pledged in the wake of defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett’s departure for Florida State.
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