If you are going to endure being a fan of Spartan football, there is a harsh reality that every MSU fan has to accept. And that one thing is realizing that MSU Football will never recruit like an elite program. I know that sucks to hear, but it is the truth. During the off-season, it is so easy to get caught up in recruiting rankings and landing the “5 star players”. College football is dominated by tradition. There is a reason why Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, USC, Michigan, etc. continually bring in top recruiting classes year in and year out. They have the history, the tradition, the brand value, and the resource backing to bring in high level talent on a consistent basis. They invest in their programs, in a way that other programs cannot. What does Michigan do when their offense was lacking any kind of spark? They go out and get Josh Gattis for $900K a year. That shows recruits that you are committed to their success and are willing to spend the money to bring in high profile talent to coach the team
So, is there any hope as a Spartan fan?
I have been a little pessimistic to this point, but I call it honesty. I have no problem calling out my university for what I see as their shortcomings. Doesn’t mean I am not a fan. It just shows that I care about this football team, and I am not afraid to call them out when criticism is due. But here is why you should not allow recruiting rankings to control your life as a college football fan.
Mark Dantonio is one of the best coaches in the NCAA at getting the most out of his players. The man is a genius at finding guys that are not as well known, but have the skills to be a great football player. And maybe even better than that, he is able to take that 3 star prospect and turn him into a 4 or 5 star during his time at MSU. Don’t believe me? Look at his track record at developing players over the years.
A two star prospect out of Holland, Mi and only had one other offer to a power 5 school. That did not stop him from throwing for over 9,000 yards and 60+ touchdowns during his career at MSU. Now a starter in the NFL, Cousins was the catalyst to propel MSU football out of mediocrity and into a contender for a B10 title. And no one will ever forget this.
Another 2 star prospect, this time out of Ohio. I could honestly go on forever about how great it was to watch Bell in the Green and White. Le’Veon Bell has established himself as one of the best running backs in the NFL, but all of that started during his development at MSU. In his Senior season, where he carried much of the load for that offense, he rushed for 1,800 yards, 12 touchdowns and earned first team All-American honors.
My personal favorite and one of my all time favorite Spartans. ZERO scholarship offers during his senior year in high school and Dantonio saw something special in him. They went down to Georgia to recruit another player and saw Darqueze making plays all over the field. Dantonio offered him a scholarship and the rest was history. Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Jim Thorpe Award winner, unanimous All-American, Jack Tatum Trophy winner, Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year. Dennard helped the Spartans win Big Ten titles in 2010 and 2013, as well as the 2014 Rose Bowl. Dennard totaled 10 interceptions in his last three seasons at MSU. NO FLY ZONE!!!
I know what you are thinking. “That is just three guys. A few great players do not make a program.” Well tell that to Kenny Wilekes, Josiah Scott, Shilique Calhoun, Trae Waynes, Joe Bachie, Marcus Rush, Greg Jones, Jerel Worthy, Jack Allen, Brain Allen, Max Bullough, Riley Bullough, and many others. All guys who were 3 stars or less, some even walk-ons, who developed into stand out players.
This 2020 class is Dantonio’s bread and butter. Read the scouting report on these guys. Maybe not all the flash that the blue-bloods have, but they can absolutely ball out. Championships are not won during the recruiting process. Watch as Dantonio continues to build this team the right way and develop them into great players in college football. Not time to start doubting yet. Cue the tape.