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Sheldon White stepping into crucial recruiting role
Sheldon White has been involved with all levels of football.
As a player, he went from Meadowdale (Dayton, Ohio) High to Miami (Ohio) to a six-year NFL career with 11 interceptions. After that, he worked in the Detroit Lions front office for 19 years before spending the last year as a Michigan State program consultant. He even fit in some time coaching his son Cody, now a Michigan State signee, and Cody’s high school 7-on-7 team.
“It’s never about the dollar sign, never about the leagues,” White said Tuesday. “It’s about finding the right people to work around.”
That, he said, is what led him to take on the role of director of player personnel at Michigan State after being in advanced talks with “another Big Ten team.” Staying at Michigan State will allow him to be close to both Cody and his daughter, who attends Walled Lake (Mich.) Western.
His responsibilities, per a release by the university, will include taking “a lead role in organizing the recruiting efforts of the program.” As someone who spent many years evaluating college players attempting to make the leap to the NFL, he knows the differences are stark.
“It’s a different level of player, No. 1,” he said. “Usually when you’re going from college to pro, they’re a little bit closer to being fully developed than they are in college. So the difference is being able to take a look at the younger kids.”
Michigan State’s recruiting efforts need significant help, particularly in-state. Former director of college advancement and performance Curtis Blackwell, whose contract was not renewed in May for yet undisclosed reasons, played a vital role in building relationships with young prospects across the state.
Compared to past roles, White said the director of player personnel role will focus more on selling the program to potential players. The past year served as a test run of sorts, one that Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio indicated White passed with flying colors.
“In just one year on our staff, Sheldon has shown why he was so successful working up the ranks in the NFL, including his position as general manager,” Dantonio said in the release. “He’s extremely organized and has great attention to detail. His wealth of knowledge and experience at the next level has been beneficial to everyone in the building. He brings credibility from an NFL perspective, from his time as a player to a scout to the front office.”
Dantonio emphasized that Cody’s commitment to Michigan State in March 2016 preceded his father’s hiring as a consultant by more than four months, as an assurance of no conflict of interest. Cody, on the other hand, doesn’t know if his father will use this role within the program to keep closer tabs on him, but he likes the move, regardless.
“I don’t know if it’s keeping an eye on me or what,” he joked, “but he’s going to stay around. He’s helped me out a bunch, so it’s a good thing.”
Mark Staten promoted back to recruiting coordinator
Add two more roles to Mark Staten’s job description. After spending the past six seasons as Michigan State’s offensive line coach, he will retain that position while taking on the roles of assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator, the program also announced Tuesday.
Staten previously worked as recruiting coordinator from 2007-10, his and Dantonio’s first four seasons in East Lansing. Quarterbacks coach Brad Salem took on the job of recruiting coordinator in 2011 up until the role was removed from his program bio this offseason.
The classes which Staten played a large part in putting together helped Michigan State rise to an 11-win team in 2010. Dantonio hopes returning him to that role will produce similar success.
“As recruiting coordinator during his first four years, Mark helped bring in some the most important classes we’ve had in the progression of our program,” Dantonio said, “and he will continue to bring that same energy and passion to lead the next great group of recruiting classes to Michigan State.”
Staten described the recruiting classes of today as “younger and more athletic” than in years past, emphasizing that starting the process earlier means ensuring that he is constantly teaching.
In his many roles with the program, Dantonio said Staten “has gone above and beyond with every task he has been given.”
(Most) incoming freshmen report to campus
Sheldon White acknowledged that while he learned a lot about NCAA compliance during his first year at Michigan State, it’s a constant learning process as recruiting rules consistently change.
Recently, the NCAA decided to allow signees to participate on campus before they enroll as students. That led the Spartans to put together a week-long minicamp which began Tuesday and has brought much of the class to East Lansing. They’ll ultimately head home until classes start in July.
Three early enrollees — Jack Camper, Hunter Rison and Josiah Scott — have been around since January. Matt Dotson, Rocky Lombardi, Connor Heyward and Cody White were all made available to the media on Tuesday.
And many more of the incoming freshman took part in their first workout with their new teammates. There were, however, two absences among the signees.
Dantonio said that Shakur Brown, a cornerback who committed to the Spartans on June 3, still has schoolwork to complete and has not been able to join his teammates. Additionally, defensive end Lashawn Paulino-Bell did not make the trip as he continues his recovery from injuries suffered in an April jet skiing accident.
“Lashawn was unable to come right now,” Dantonio said. “He’s still on the mend a little bit, but he should be here July 5 [for the start of classes].”