Defensive Linemen on the mind of Smith

Feeding off the momentum of landing a high profile four-star recruit (corner back Ken Tinney of Milford Academy) John L. Smith and staff are now focusing on their semi-desperate search for defensive tackles.

OKEMOS - Feeding off the momentum of landing a high profile four-star recruit (corner back Ken Tinney of Milford Academy) John L. Smith and staff are now focusing on their semi-desperate search for defensive tackles.

At least five prospects visiting Michigan State in January. With the departures of Brandon McKinney and Domato Peko, the Spartans are thin on the interior defensive line and questions still remain about backups Bobby Jones and Joe Toth. David Stanton appears to be promising interior prospect, but for the most part MSU needs more depth or they'll be forced to start shifting players from other positions.

MSU has already signed Ogemdi Nwagbuo, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound prospect from Southwestern Junior College in California. Nwagbuo has good physical skills but is a raw talent without a lot of experience.

The Spartans have already secured some options in this class, but need more. For instance, Colin Neely, a highy-touted verbal commit at 6-foot-2 and 250-pounds, is a highly regarded defensive end/linebacker who in time with strength and weight gain, could move inside, but for all intents and purposes, he is a defensive end/outside linebacker type guy.

Jason Diehl has signed as an offensive lineman, but at 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, he was a great defensive lineman in high school, making 160 tackles and recording 23 sacks in his last two years of high school football before prepping at Milford Academy an an offensive lineman. In fact, Diehl was named 'Defensive Player Of The Year' for his disruptive defensive line play in high school.

Patrick Rigan is listed at 6-foot-6, 235-pounds, and can play both defensive end and tight end. If he played defensive end, this may allow someone else to move inside. The same can be said about John Stipek, who at 6-foot-4 and 239-pounds is also listed as a defensive end.

However, when you get right down to it, MSU desperately needs to bring some legit defensive tackles into the program and will be getting visits from the following five prospects including one surprise visit from north of the border. They include:

1. J'Michael Dean- He will visiting MSU on January 14th. Dean plays in Canada for the Toronto Wildcats and became a OVFL All-Star this past year. At 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds, Dean ran an impressive 4.8 at the UT combine. He has already passed the S.A.T. Other schools include Akron (who he has already visited and been offered a scholarship), Ohio University, and Penn State.

2.Mike Blanc-Blanc is a 6-foot-4 265-pound prospect from Deerfield Beach (FLA), who will be visiting MSU on January 6th. He has offers from Auburn, Arizona State, Temple, Rutgers, Toledo, Colorado, in addition to MSU. MSU had luck with a previous Deerfield product in former Spartan running back Marc Renaud. Blanc also has the versatility that John L. Smith likes in that he can play either defensive tackle, defensive end, and even offensive tackle.

3. Kenrick Ellis- Ellis is highly-touted at 6-foot-5, 320-pounds. Ellis, like Blanc, is also from Florida (Lake Worth), and is being recruited by all the big boys- Michigan, Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Miami (FLA). Originally from Jamaica, he caught the attention of coaches after a big junior year in which he had 72 tackles, sixteen of those tackles for loss, and 14 sacks. Ellis is set to visit on January 6th.

4. Geno Atkins-Atkins is still yet another Florida product from Fort Lauderdale. He is a wide body at 6-foot-2 and 270-pounds. In the mix for his services are Auburn, North Carolina State, and Pitt in addition to MSU. He led his team in tackles with 55, including twelve for loss, and two sacks. He will be visiting MSU on January 20th.

5. Abre Leggins-I featured Abre previously, and at 6-foot-4 295-pounds, he has the ability to play either defensive or offensive tackle. Abre is a classy kid with good quickness and football I.Q. Leggins is set to visit on January 20th.

A couple of guys I would not be optimistic of getting are Jason Kates from (PA). Although he has not ruled out MSU, Kates told me they were in on him "late" and he is looking at the ACC a little more.

The other guy would be Johnnie Troutman from New Jersey, he likes Penn State a lot right now.

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