SpartanDigest Mailbag: September 12

Answering your questions about Michigan State football, basketball and recruiting!

Much has been made about the Big Ten being “sucky” lately and with these early season losses, was an MSU loss to Oregon more of a wound to the Spartans’ chances at making the playoffs or will it prove to be the losses of OSU, Wisconsin and Michigan that hurt more? Secondly, is the Big Ten overall actually worse now or was it really just as bad or worse in the 70s when there were only “two” good teams and the rest resembled a MAC conference?

I think Michigan State showed it can compete with anyone – and beat anyone – with its performance Saturday in a loss. It was more concerning how Wisconsin blew a big lead late, Ohio State lost to an average Virginia Tech team and Michigan got rolled by Notre Dame. Now, an MSU win could have alleviated a lot of the criticism, but it still would have existed in the form of “Michigan State is good, but everyone else is not.” As for your second question, I think the Big Ten does need the consistent team like Ohio State or Michigan used to be in order to be taken seriously. It does need Michigan State, Wisconsin and Nebraska to be steadily good as well – and right now, it needs to Michigan State to carry the Big Ten flag because it appears to be the best candidate to do so. That said, I think right now, the Big Ten is worse than it was then, but has more potential to be better with the second level being more talented.

Although Michigan State lost to Oregon, what impact do you think all of the national exposure and attention given to the game will have on the football program?

You can’t understate how much a win would have meant against Oregon, but it also was not a blowout like the score indicates. I talked to a recruit this week who said he watched the game and thought Michigan State was close to winning that game and played well. I think Michigan State showed just that: It is right there with the best teams in the nation.

Is Deon Drake enrolled at Michigan State to improve grades or at a junior college?

I do not believe Drake has been enrolled at Michigan State yet as he has not been able to get through the NCAA Clearinghouse. A quick check of Michigan State’s student database also shows no results for Deon Drake.

With Michigan looking at potentially another long season, do you see any of the guys we lost on the recruiting front to them possibly making their way back to MSU – maybe Brian Cole?

When it comes to Cole, a swing factor in his recruitment was playing wide receiver. Michigan State liked him at defensive back. He also was sold on the academics at Michigan. Those factors remain unchanged, so I don’t know if things change with him but if they do, I don’t think Michigan State is the beneficiary. Beyond Cole, Chris Clark Mike Weber are the other guys that Michigan State recruited the hardest. Clark has committed twice now and who knows what might transpire there. It did seem like Michigan State was his No. 2. As for Weber, I don’t think anything changes. Michigan State still has L.J. Scott, which was a factor in Weber liking Michigan even more.

With Michigan State being the currently established program, playing for championships and having the proven coaches, where is the in-state momentum in recruiting? It has quadrupled out of state, but in state it seemed to slow through the spring and summer. Can we regain momentum that inexplicably stalled?

Michigan State landed four of the top recruits in the state in the 2015 cycle with Kyonta Stallworth, Tyriq Thompson, Tyson Smith and Khari Willis. The first three are regional/national recruits. I’m not sure the momentum “stalled” just because guys like Brian Cole and Mike Weber picked Michigan. Keep in mind, the state of Michigan is not a super talented state when it comes to football, so building momentum out of state is a good thing, while continuing to pull in talented in-state kids like they have in 2015. I will say, though, in-state will have its challenges for Michigan State just because of the history and tradition around Michigan that exists in the state.

How many additional offensive linemen do you see Michigan State looking to take in the 2015 class?

Right now, I think one would seem reasonable, but it needs to be the right one. Michigan State probably is focusing in on wide receiver, offensive line and defensive line for the final spots in the class. With three in the fold, adding one more tackle could happen.

Do you expect Evan Jones and Devyn Salmon to add any quality depth to MSU this season?

Jones has been seeing playing time at defensive end, at least he did in the first week. He is a decent option as the No. 4 defensive end. As for Salmon, he is at center now and behind both Allen brothers. I don’t think he is in the mix to play much.

The run game has been less than stellar through the first two games, is it the offensive line or the competition’s defense? And should Delton Williams and Gerald Holmes be the No. 2 back instead of Nick Hill?

It is a combination of Jeremy Langford not being 100 percent and the offensive line lacking depth. Last year, the depth allowed the Spartans to stay stronger late into games and dominate the trenches. That has been an issue so far this year, but so has Langford not being the same runner as last year with an injured ankle. As for the backup, it should be Williams/Holmes. I do not think Hill does enough, especially given he is a senior, to be the backup. Also, he just does not provide power running that Williams and Holmes can. >Besides Cameron Chambers already being in the fold, who are some other top prospects that Michigan State has a good standing with?

It still is really early in the process, but guys like Martell Pettaway, Ethan Tucky, Gavin Cupp, Jalen Martin and more are guys I have talked to that like Michigan State early – but it is early so the class is a long way from being clear in any sense.

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