Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio answered a handful of questions at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago about recruiting.
From a focus on people more than football to the hardest position to recruit and more, he shared his thoughts on much of the process.
Here is what he had to say:
On a recruit’s parents saying they picked Michigan State for the people:
”It’s just the relationship factor. That’s just what it is. In the recruiting process we’re not gonna pressure an individual. Don’t believe in that. This is there time. We’re gonna lose some because of it maybe but we’re gonna get some because of it and when we do get them, we’re gonna get the right guy that’s right for our program. We’re number two in the conference in the least amount of attrition. I think that’s a huge statement. People come, we don’t get rid of them very quickly and they don’t leave very quickly. They tend to stay and get better and they’re developed. They’re developed not just as football players but as men. Hopefully when they come out of Michigan State they’re ready for the world. Very, very difficult. One of the most difficult things I think you find in college football, I can even remember when I finished is, what do you do after that? When you’ve been told where to go, what to do, been on a structured schedule whether it’s lifting, or practice or whatever it is, classes, for four and five years. Then you get your degree, what do you do now? If your dream is to play pro football and maybe you don’t make it, what do you do now? We talk a lot about that. Everybody has that dream to play and we’ve had a lot of players play, but there’s that gap between when you’re feeling old at 22 and you don’t know what to do because you think your life’s over. I don’t know if you guys have been there but I have. I’m 22, I’m a senior in college, what am I gonna do now? So this is there time as a recruit or player to make their choices and we just don’t pressure people.”
On the idea of no signing period:
“I think it’s a Catch-22 situation, if everybody could be trusted in this profession, I think it would be a great idea. But the problem is, if you say you’re gonna take one quarterback and you sign him, then you go out and sign another quarterback, then the other kid feels taken. The reverse is true, a guy can commit and change his mind three times. I don’t think that’s right, either. So I do think an early signing period would be beneficial, but there would have to be certain things tied into it that covers everybody. But it’s been talked about for a long time and it’s amazing to me that a lot of coaches don’t want it – because they want to keep recruiting.”
On the accelerated pace of recruiting and having to keep up:
"It's a tough situation to be in because when you take a guy who's a sophomore or an early junior, and you're starting to recruit him before his junior year, you really haven't seen him play. I don't know how much film guys watch from senior film, because they're already committed. So what product are you actually getting, and you see a lot of people, not a lot, but you see some individuals, they get there, and maybe not the product you thought, and I think that's the early development, You're recruiting a guy who's 250 pounds at that point, he's gonna gain 20 or 30 more pounds — or not — so he has to be developed, and there's a lot of development between those ages, just naturally and physically. A 16 year old compared to a 17 year old, big different.''
On the toughest position to evaluate two years ahead of time:
"That's a good question because the grown potential, what's the growth potential, how much do they grow? If you're recruiting a skill guy, maybe he's 5-10 1/2, is he gonna be 5-10 1/2 or is he gonna be a 6-foot guy, you just don't' know, because there's a lot of growth potential there. The offensive line, do they gain good weight or do they gain bad weight, can they keep their foot speed with that weight, or can they not? So I think the offense and defensive line. Shilique came in at 215 pounds, he's 258 now, so I think it's difficult, I think it's difficult to assess because you may not see them in camp. When you start talking about guys that are far away, it gets a little difficult.'