We started yesterday with our annual in depth analysis of the 2017 football recruiting class. Today we conclude the offense with part two. Tomorrow we will move on to the defense.
Each year when I compile ratings for the incoming recruiting class it is an exhaustive effort, and this year is no different. I try very hard to call coaches who coached for or against, and to do as much research as possible including speaking to multiple different (non-MSU) division one coaches to help me analyze each player.
Why so much emphasis on recruiting? One NFL coach, when talking about his time as a college coach, expressed it better than anyone I’ve ever heard when he said, “It’s like getting 25 first round draft picks each year.” What a great analysis! Now MSU doesn’t sign 25 a year, but you get the point.
So without any delay here is part two of our offensive breakdown of the 2017 class:
7) Matt Dotson TE 6’5” 225# Cincinnati, OH A straight up stud, Dotson will push to play quick. He can do it all and is STUNNINGLY athletic. He is a freak of nature and when you add to it a super kid, it really makes him special. A coach’s take: “I am stunned he ended up at MSU. As a staff we thought he would make Alabama or OSU. Not sure who all MSU signed, but he is your best player. I haven’t seen one thing he couldn’t do and everyone knew he was a star early on.” Weakness: Dotson is such a freak athletically that his athleticism has allowed him to get away with some things prior to college. If he can learn to still use his athleticism, but not to rely on it to the point he overlooks technique occasionally, he will play on Sundays. That athleticism is a blessing, but not when you can at times forgo technique. Dantonio says, “Tight end, Matt Dotson, Cincinnati Moeller. Matt was one of our players on the field. Probably could have went to school anywhere in America. Outstanding tight end, watched him in person catch a ball, in practice and workouts and things of that nature. Very dynamic pass catcher. Great ability for a guy that's six foot five and 235 pounds to come under control and make that difficult catches. You see that on highlight film. He's a guy who could have probably gotten a lot of other offers. Makes plays down the field. He's the 6th guy from Cincinnati Moeller since we've been here. That program is very, very good to us. We appreciate all that they do. Coach Rodenberg is an outstanding coach. Extremely successful program. And Matt is in the top 250 in the country. You've obviously seen the different things on him. Participated in the opening. I'm trying to think who else did. We've had a number of players go through that since we've been here. But I think that Matt is a guy that's going to play very early in his career. He'll be up to 250 pounds very, very quickly. He's got toughness. Can run, catch a big target and has a great deal of enthusiasm that goes along with it.”
8) Jack Camper TE 6’5” 240# Bradenton, FL This young man can play TE or DE. If the MSU TE’s can step up, especially if Demetrious Cooper does not return, he may get a chance at DE. Another freak of nature athletically, Camper is strong as an ox. A coach’s take: “We thought he was a great TE, but we wanted him badly as a DE. I have put guys into the NFL at DE that aren’t as good as him. We thought with the Dotson youngster we might a got him, but no chance. He was locked in with them Spartans.” Weakness: Camper is so physically strong that technique has not been a necessity for him. He is super coachable, so he will have to rely on his discipline to play within that strength and technique to go on to the NFL. Dantonio says, “Jack Camper from Virginia Beach. Jack enrolled in Michigan State this semester. Went to IMG, which is a unique place to finish his high school career. Played junior and senior year. He played tight end and defensive end, as well. We actually saw him playing tight end in practice, and when they were still using the traditional tight end, we were attracted to him. He later played defensive end and played very, very well for them. He played in very highly competitive situations, whether it's game or whether it's practice. But he's been a guy that as much as I said -- like I said about Connor Heyward, very explosive. I think he just touched the top of the square on the basketball backboard. Jack, six five, 240 pounds, to jump ten eight long jump is extraordinary. But he's been exciting to watch in workouts. And will have an opportunity to participate immediately. And have an opportunity to impact this program very, very quickly.”
9) Weston Bridges RB 6’ 200# Copley, OH Bridges is Javon Ringer; same heart, same character, and a love for the game that transcends football. A great kid and player. A coach’s take: “Had he not been injured in high school, I think Michigan State would have had to beat off a lot of suitors for that young man. Really good balance and superior vision are two things mixed with speed and toughness that make a young man go from good to great. He has all those attributes.” Weakness: The biggest question mark is that you never know how someone’s body will heal from a major injury. He is constantly compared to Ringer and we know how he did, but at this point until he is 100% healthy that has to be his biggest weakness. Dantonio says, “Weston Bridges, out of Ohio. Two time all Ohio First Team selection. Rushed for 3500, almost 3600 yards and 60 touchdowns, 474 carries with his 23 game high school career. He's got great vision, great feet. He's powerful. He'll be about 205 pounds as he was in the season, once he gets back to his playing weight or more. Reminds you a lot of -- a little bit of a Jeremy Langford type guy, the way he runs behind his pads. We're very, very excited about getting him as a Spartan. And he and Connor will basically sort of -- Connor Heyward will basically man the tailback position early in their careers. They both have abilities. Certainly Connor has the ability to play other positions. Weston also could probably play other positions, although he will remain at the tailback position.”
10) Jordan Reid OL 6’5”270# Detroit, MI Reid is the real deal. Surprising athletic, he can do a lot; especially with his feet. Almost ballerina type grace in space, he is going to be really good for MSU. A coach’s take: “If you can watch the tape of that kid and show me something you don’t like then God Bless you because we couldn’t. After the first time we looked at him as a freshman and sophomore we didn’t even try. We knew he could go anywhere he wanted and good for Dantonio he picked East Lansing.” Weakness: The thing that could possibly hold Reid from playing early is that he has to get in the weight room and make a real concentrated effort to get bigger and stronger. He has everything else. Dantonio says, “Jordan Reid from Cass Tech. Like many of our guys, state champions and like many of our other guys, sort of with stood a barrage of recruiting throughout the process. These guys committed early on and held to all of -- all of these guys have held to the fact that they took no visits through the process and remained completely committed to Michigan State, which I think is probably a little bit abnormal the way recruiting goes at some point in time. We asked them to do that. They stayed committed. They've been firm in their commitment, all these defensive line and offensive line. So they're athletic, very athletic guy. Very rangy, can run well. Again, played for outstanding program, Thomas Wilcher, they're used to winning and their expectations and bar is set high. He is 265 or 70 pounds, but could go as high as 285. We look for big things from him early in the process.”
11) Mustafa Khaleefah OL 6’6” 285# Dearborn, MI Khaleefah is super athletic for his size. That athleticism is so beneficial at that size that he can be overpowering at the point of attack. He is coachable with a high drive. A coach’s take: “I liked him and I think he belongs at the division one level. He can really explode, but he is also really raw. He is a high risk high reward player. If he progresses MSU will look brilliant for taking the risk, but if he doesn’t that will make a few guys that MSU fell in love with because of explosion, but maybe missed on some other guys to take a risk on them. Good solid person, we liked him, but didn’t think he was a Big Ten player now.” Weakness: Khaleefah is very raw, but I like his size and his intangibles. He does have to work hard on technique and learning more of the nuances of the game, but he has a high motor and the work ethic to do it. Dantonio says, “Mustafa Khaleefah or Whiz, as we call him, from Dearborn High School has been playing football for I believe three years. I think this was his third year playing high school football. And extremely tough young man. Very, very good student. Came to the United States from Iraq, when he was nine or so. And learned how to play football. And he's still learning. Came to camp for two years, I mean for two times this year, and demonstrated great toughness, and great ability to work. Very, very great ability I think to understand basic offensive concepts and things of that nature. Mark did an outstanding job recruiting and evaluating him along with Terrance Samuel. And all these guys, go back and talk about all these guys as far as who recruited them. But Whiz is a guy that has a very, very high ceiling in the process, here. Big guy. Six five or six six, 290 pounds already. And is not a sloppy 290. So he's a guy that I believe will project very, very quickly in the offensive line situation as we go.”
12) Matt Carrick OL 6’4” 285# Massillon, OH This young man is the real deal on the OL. He plays tough with a side of angry. He has super hands and feet and just mauls people. A coach’s take: “Carrick didn’t get as much attention as he deserved and he got a lot. I thought the Spartans picked up two of the best OL in this class out of the Midwest and Carrick was one of them.” Weakness: Carrick mauls people and there are times he doesn’t get to the second and third guy in his procession as he is burying his first victim. Not uncommon to end plays with him laying on a guy. At this level he will need to let guys go down and move on to another victim. Dantonio says, “Matt Carrick from Perry High School, played in the State Championship game. Jim Bollman, Mark Staten, Mark Snyder, also recruiting those guys, hope I'm putting on the right hats at this point. But Matt is a wrester, wrestles for Kim Anderson that played for us at Ohio when I was there. A wrestler, 325 pounds during the season, got down to 285, 230 wrestling in Ohio. So the guy knows how to work. What impressed me about Matt early on in the process, just like all these big guys that play defense, as well. If you watch him on his junior film, you can see him play defensive end, change direction, power, those type of things, and was extremely, extremely impressive. He gets out and pools very effectively, gets on you, can play any position, center, guard or offensive tackle. He's a big guy and extremely committed guy. Comes from a great program and understands how to work and what you have to do to be successful.”
13) Kevin Jarvis OL 6’5” 324# Parl Ridge, IL If I had to pick players that were can’t miss, there are three in this class in my opinion. Jarvis would be one of them. Ideally, they would like to red shirt him, but I do not see how. A great player and explosive, he plays football with an IQ much above his age and is physically ready to play. If he plays this year and gets real reps I will be stunned if he isn’t a freshman All American. He is ready to play right now and if he had been here last year he would have started. A coach’s take: “I mentioned on the Carrick kid that I thought he was one of the two best offensive linemen in the Midwest. Jarvis was the other. Hell, I thought he was one of the best in the nation. He has every tool to be a NFL player and I think he starts for MSU early. I mean like real early. Who you playing first game? I say by whoever the second game is. He is one tough SOB.” Weakness: Jarvis is so good that when completely dominating he can get bored. You can see teams have some success and I use the word SOME when his team is up and it hasn’t been close. It isn’t because he doesn’t care; it is because at times he is like the genius in the classroom full if idiots waiting around. I love this kid’s character and talent, but he must be engaged all the time. Dantonio says, “Kevin Jarvis is our fourth offensive lineman, and given is an outstanding player, and another guy that could go anywhere in the country. Kevin made a commitment to come to Michigan State, 6 five or six 340 pounds, he's not a sloppy guy at all, very, very trim and fit for that size. Another guy I believe that can play very early in his career. Played defense, as well, for another state champion, the Main South football team and represented his team, and I think he had two sacks in the Championship game. Big talent, offensive lineman and tough. And I think all of our offensive linemen bring that sense of toughness to the game when you talk about them.”