We started earlier this week with our annual in-depth analysis of the 2017 football recruiting class. Today we finish by taking a final look at the remaining members of this class by addressing the defense and special teams.
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 defensive and special teams breakdown of the 2017 class:
20) Josiah Scott 5’10” 175# CB Fairfield, OH Scott is a straight up stud. Already a starter, he took the Spartans by storm in the spring with an amazing run of practices and maturity. He is a star. A coach’s take: “We really struggled to find a weakness. He is a tough kid with great skills.” Weakness: Scott did so much this spring that expectations are in my opinion too big for a true freshman. Every kid has a learning curve, no matter how good they are. Scott is super smart kid and I want to see if he can handle it when he does make mistakes and how he handles the huge expectations that he has earned. Dantonio says, “Josiah Scott who is currently here. Josiah reminds you of Kennard (ph.) the way he goes about his business, his change of direction, his ability to move vertical. I've only seen him out there one day, but I've heard from other people talking about him, as they've watched him in work outside outs, comes to work every day, has a sense of toughness, has outstanding ball handling from film and watching him in person playing games. Coach Barnett was his primary recruiter. Has great snap when he tackles. I think he'll be a tremendous player for us. I've only watched one day, when we started winter workouts, fourth quarter workouts, not to be confused with first quarter workouts, but I just thought he really, really looked dynamic out there. So we'll look forward to him contributing here this spring, and seeing what he's got. I think he's got great football IQ, as many of our players do. And we'll look forward to that as he grows.”
21) Dominique Long 6’2 ½ “ 205# S Westerville, OH This young man could be the best athlete in the class. He is super smart and has played virtually everywhere. I can think of as many as six spots he can play and is exactly what you want it a guy. Mr. Versatility should be his nickname. A coach’s take: “We liked that fact that when you got him he was able to play so many spots, that it made him almost a can’t miss. He is what those kids call a Transformer in that he is more than one thing.” Weakness: Long has been asked to do a lot at a lot of different positions. He hasn’t been able to just get in at one spot and make a home. Not sure that he will at MSU because he can do a lot on a team that needs a lot. If he is able to settle in somewhere look out and DO NOT BET against this young man. Highly intelligent and athletic, he is the prototypical student athlete, but needs to be able to master one spot. Dantonio says, “Dominique Long, guy committed in summer after coming to camp. And in camp he verticaled 38 inches, long jumped ten eight, weighed 205 pounds, size 16 shoes. About six two and a half or so. Runs a quarter, runs a 400 in 48.88, I believe. Runs a 10.9, hundred meters, as well. Outstanding athlete. Very explosive. What attracted me to him as you watch him in the recruiting process, and he played some safety as a junior, but he was an outside linebacker and he was running and tackling. His ability to tackle in space really is the thing that I looked at and said, hey, who is that guy? The more you found out about him the more you liked about him. I think he's got 31 on the test, ACT, maybe 4.3 grade point average, wants engineering. Tough, wide receiver, kick returner, punt returner this season. And just, I think, a tremendous athlete with a big upside. Reminds me of Nicholson in his athletic makeup and ability. I look for the way he tackles and ball skills, he'll be having the ability to get on the field early for us. It will be interesting watching him. Great person, great player.”
22) Emanuel Flowers 6’2” 175# CB Chino Hills, CA This is a high character super player that MSU was able to steal. Another top tier player that MSU got late and they absolutely love him. Dantonio saw him in person and fell in love. A coach’s take: “Really didn’t see him headed up north. He is a high level PAC 12 player that we hate to lose out here. He is from a real religious family and he is a lot like Tim Tebow. I was told that the Michigan State head coach is like that and it was the religious angle that meant a lot to him and that is why you got him. I guess the good Lord made that happen for the Spartans.” Weakness: There is an old adage that the best thing for a young horse is a wet saddle blanket; meaning a lot of sweat and practice. Flowers is a super player, but as you have picked up on with several players, he needs to get serious reps somewhere. Able to do so much in high school, he played everywhere. No doubt in my opinion he has a chance to play on Sundays at CB, he is a super CB and should press for playing time early. Dantonio says, “Emanuel Flowers is from California, plays out at Chico Hills, one of the top corners in the nation by scout. But in California, he's the guy that plays wide receiver, as well. Has a lot of length. Made plays on the ball in the deep part of the field. Made plays in space in tackling. Watched him work out in person and do some drills. And could drop his weight, great change in direction, and I think he'll be an outstanding player for us. Played wide receiver, as well. Really only the last four games of the year. But when you watch his highlight film you see tons of catches and things of that nature. So great ball skills. Great length. Very, very good tackler, great ability to change directions. I think all three of these guys, Tre Person, Emanuel Flowers and Josiah Scott have a great upside. I think two of those guys could play field safety or corner. So I think he'll have an opportunity to get involved very, very quickly here. He may be -- made the announcement probably in the last five minutes, and I think he's a great addition to our class and takes us to four defensive backs in this class.”
23) Tre Person 6’0” 165# DB Atlanta, GA MSU flat out stole Person late in the process. Perhaps one of the most under-hyped members of this class, he can do it all. Just amazing athleticism and talent. He can run like a deer and plays with his head on a swivel. I am really excited to watch him. A coach’s take: “I lost a lot of faith in college coaches watching that kid getting so little attention. Good for the Spartans that they found him and dug him out. That is what Michigan State did back in the day and I bet he will be another almost no star that Dantonio puts in the NFL.” Weakness: Another athlete who has pressed in high school to be a Swiss Army Knife. He had to play a lot of positions in high school and he was a great teammate in doing all that was asked. Now he has to be able to settle in somewhere so he can learn the technique that is so vital at this level. Dantonio says, “Tre Person is from Atlanta, Georgia, Westlake High School. Plays for Kareem Reid. And again, the more you watch him, you watch him at corner, you watch him at safety. Very, very high football IQ. Plays at a high level down there. Great competition down there. Punt returner, kick returner, plays wide receiver. Runs the football. Defensive back, great tackle. I think he's going to have a chance to get on the field very, very quickly for us. Ran ten-nine, only ran track for a couple of years. He'll come down from that even this next spring, here, this coming up spring. But Tre was very, very impressive when he came on the scene here, when he came up here a couple of weeks ago, and made the decision to commit. We were very, very excited about it. I think he's a guy that has a huge, huge, huge career here, as do all of our players, but I think there's something special about that guy, as well.”
24) Cole Hahn 5’10” 185# K West Des Moines, IA Getting Hahn is a good thing and a bad thing. He is a super player and person so that is great. Unfortunately, MSU doesn’t like to take a second kicker or punter until the scholarship P and K are entering their red shirt. Taking Hahn on scholarship as well as adding other walk-ons tells you the level of real concern that MSU has in a very anemic special teams. He has a very powerful leg. Those in the program have told me his kickoffs have been booming since he arrived into the end zone. He can kick field goals as far as 65 yards, but for now he is performing at a very high level that many expect him to win the kickoff job right away. I am not predicting that, but others have told me that. I want to see how his place kicking picks up in camp. A coach’s take: “I do not understand I guess how that kid was a walk on at Iowa until the last second. He is the best kicker I have ever seen at any level and when coaches tell you how important special teams are, many of them must be not telling the truth because if coaches really felt that way he would have had a ton of offers.” Weakness: It is one thing to kick 65-yard field goals on You Tube or to put up great stats in high school. I do think those matter, but now in camp is what counts and he has to show he can. I believe that he will, but so could others in high school and on You Tube who are not doing it now, that is why he is here. I want to see if he has a competitive killer instinct to go take this job. Dantonio has made no public comment on Hahn.