Scott Reed - Spartan Digest

Spartan Digest looks back at the growth of Michigan State recruiting since Mark Dantonio arrived.

Spartan Digest takes a look at the ten recruiting classes signed by Mark Dantonio as head coach of the Michigan State Spartans. This is Part One of three in the series.

Since being hired as the head coach of the Michigan State Spartans, head coach Mark Dantonio has continued to work and build upon each year of success.

Spartan Digest takes a look back at how the Spartan classes of the past nine years match up with the 2016 class.

This is a multi-part story starting with the first three recruiting classes under Dantonio. 

CLASS OF 2007

RANK: 51
COMMITS: 21

SPARTAN DIGEST TAKE

The class that started the Mark Dantonio era may not have been ranked highly by Scout coming in at No. 51, but started what has become the staple of one of the more solid college football programs in the nation.  Two future NFL quarterbacks signed with the Spartans in February of 2007 along with a four-year punter, All-American linebacker, solid offensive lineman, top receiver and future NFL tight end.  Not bad for a class put together in a very short time frame.

STARS OF THE CLASS

OFFENSE: The clear winner as the offensive star in the class is quarterback Kirk Cousins who left his mark on the Spartans program on and off the field.  When Cousins left the Spartans he set several quarterback records.

DEFENSE: The Spartans would love to find another Greg Jones to wear the Green and White.  Jones would be the first Spartan since Bubba Smith and George Webster to earn back-to-back All-American honors.  He also led the Spartans defense in tackles all four years of his career.

OTHER: Not only was Aaron Bates a great punter, he also was key to the success of one of the more famous plays in Spartans history, Little Giants against Notre Dame.

SIDE NOTES: The quarterback battle between Cousins and Nick Foles never really had time to develop.  The loss of Arthur Ray as he battled health issues hurt the class on the field.  The highest ranked player was Antonio Jeremiah out of Ohio.  Weight issues and injury never allowed him to reach his potential.

CLASS OF 2008

RANK: 55
COMMITS: 22

SPARTAN DIGEST TAKE

The lowest ranked class during the Dantonio era saw only one four-star prospect on signing day in wide receiver Fred Smith.  Smith’s time at MSU was best described as a roller coaster ride as he played as a freshman before being redshirted his sophomore year.  In the end issues off the field and a move to fullback and then back to receiver saw the Detroit native never reached his ranking status.  Chris McDonald become a serviceable offensive lineman with the real stars of the class being Jerel Worthy and Keshawn Martin.

STARS OF THE CLASS

OFFENSE: Keshawn Martin clearly became the offensive star and a special team’s standout.  The Spartans are still trying to find someone to give them the spark he was able to give them in the return game.  Martin was drafted by the Houston Texans in the fourth round of the 2012 draft and is currently with the New England Patriots.

DEFENSE: Jerel Worthy set the bar for defensive tackles with his quick first step off the line.  The Huber Heights, Ohio native left a year early being selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.  Injury has not allowed Worthy to have the same success during his pro career and he is currently with the Buffalo Bills.

SIDE NOTES: In the end this class had a few solid players but also a lot of bust.  Johnny Adams was a solid player during his career but you’ll find a lot of names that will leave you scratching your head.

CLASS OF 2009

RANK: 37
COMMITS: 22

SPARTAN DIGEST TAKE

Did the best ranking to date prove to be the same on the field?

A jump from the 50s to the high 30s should have meant better talent coming into Michigan State.  Looking back the class was very solid with players like Denicos Allen, Chris Norman, Edwin Baker, Blake Treadwell, Bennie Fowler, Dion Sims and Dan France.

STARS OF THE CLASS

OFFENSE: Fowler closed his career with 11 touchdown receptions earning four-letters in the process.  We also looked at Baker here.

DEFENSE: Allen was an easy pick here as a four-year letter winner and three-year starter at Sam linebacker.  Closed his career ranked third in program history in tackles for loss.

SIDE NOTES: The improved ranking did play out as more players played roles during their careers.  A handful of guys got shots in the NFL with Fowler playing in this year’s Super Bowl.

The following shows each year, rank, number of commits and star rankings.

YEAR RANK COMMITS 5 STAR 4 STAR 3 STAR TOP 100
2016 18 19 0 12 7 1
2015 18 21 0 10 11 1
2014 19 23 1 4 18 1
2013 47 17 0 4 10 0
2012 37 18 0 4 13 2
2011 27 21 1 3 16 1
2010 31 21 1 4 12 1
2009 37 22 0 3 12 0
2008 55 22 0 1 8 0
2007 51 21 0 1 8 0


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