The most active month of the college football recruiting cycle has almost come to a close.
Michigan State entered January with 20 players signed and will likely leave with that same number. Similarly, the same four 2019 recruits who committed to the Spartans in 2017 remain pledged.
Those numbers, however, don’t tell the entire story of how this month progressed. So let’s take a look back at this past month and how Michigan State did in regards to our to-do list from the start of January.
3. Capitalize on Holiday Bowl win
Boy, that bowl win sure feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it? In reality, Michigan State beat Washington State just over a month ago, but so much has happened since. The sentencing of former Michigan State sports doctor Larry Nassar followed by the release of an ESPN report claiming mishandling of allegations of violence against women and sexual assault allegations by the MSU athletic department have made time crawl by.
So, no. Michigan State didn’t take full advantage of the Holiday Bowl quickly. The celebratory mood was gone before the Spartans could even reel in a new commitment. We haven’t seen any tangible impact of this turmoil yet, as coach Mark Dantonio quickly insisted that he has always followed protocol for reporting incidences of alleged violence and sexual assault to the proper authorities. But the momentum is certainly gone.
2. Build on 2019 class
To accomplish this didn’t require landing any new commitments to join the four already pledged. Hardly any underclassmen commit during this month anyway, since it’s so much about the 2018 class. But since Michigan State has already completed the vast majority of that group, the coaches could afford to spend a lot more time on 2019 and beyond.
And they did. The staff has been on the road almost constantly, meeting with coaches and extending offers mainly to 2019 recruits. Defensive tackles coach Ron Burton in particular deserves a lot of credit. He’s been in Utah, Texas, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia, to name a few places, over the past couple of weeks. He and the Spartans have been putting in the work to give themselves a leg up going into the next cycle.
1. Round out the 2018 class
This didn’t happen. The Spartans continue to be in pursuit of multiple defensive linemen and wide receivers coming down the stretch. They have until National Signing Day on Feb. 7 before all of those prospects will likely be off the table, and their pursuit of those final commitments may just come down to the last few hours. The introduction of the Dec. 20-22 early signing period didn’t take away all the excitement, apparently.
But while Michigan State hasn’t yet gotten the pledges it needs, it did set itself up nicely. Defensive tackle Dashaun Mallory and wide receiver Jalen Nailor, both 3-star prospects in the 247Sports composite ratings, visited during the first weekend of the contact period. Three-star defensive end Habakkuk Baldonado followed a weekend later. Any of those three guys could end up signing with the Spartans in a week.