Michigan State’s 2017 recruiting class already serves a symbolic purpose.
It represents a new era. Fans will hope that shuffled in with that class is a new sense of optimism that can get the Spartans back on track. It might be one of coach Mark Dantonio’s lower-rated classes during his tenure, but it still has the potential to start turning things around. It can’t get much worse than 2-7.
So, who will be the most important player for Michigan State’s short-term success as well as the most impactful for the long-term? Let’s pick two of the 16 possibilities.
Short-term: Kevin Jarvis
Michigan State needs help in the trenches, and the 4-star Maine South (Ill.) offensive guard is an absolute beast. At 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds, Jarvis is in a league of his own on the high school field and should be ready to step in early for the Spartans.
The offensive line will lose a considerable amount of depth on the offensive line with Benny McGowan, Miguel Machado and Kodi Kieler graduating. And this line had already underachieved considerably. Jarvis, the No. 15 guard in the country, should have every opportunity to step in from the get-go.
Additionally, with the subtraction of senior defensive tackle Malik McDowell, Jarvis could potentially make an impact on the other side of the ball as well. He has experience there in high school, and if this season has shown anything, it’s that the Michigan State staff will not shy away from shuffling guys around like that.
Long-term: Hunter Rison
Let’s start with the on-field impact. On an Ann Arbor (Mich.) Skyline team severely overmatched at a lot of positions, Rison still found a way to shake off extra attention from defenses and make some amazing, athletic plays at wide receiver.
That’s why he’s a 4-star prospect. He can make an impact on special teams and has the ability to beat defenders for jump balls despite his 5-11 size. He seems to take a lot of pride in the effort he puts into blocking as well. He’ll be a staple of the Spartans offense for years to come.
And then there’s his off-field impact. As the son of former Michigan State and NFL star Andre Rison, he comes in with a lot of attention and relishes it. He has made a big effort to hang out with visitors and try to add to the recruiting class. Having a guy with swagger like Rison will be particularly important when you’ve got a program admittedly lacking confidence.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.