Spartans Find Gems Under Rocks

The Spartans have filled plenty of holes and positions with this class, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Scout.com currently ranked the Spartans No. 42 as a class, but that doesn't tell the whole story.

OKEMOS,MI-Scout.com has the Spartans class ranked No.42 in the nation. Other services have them as high as 25th. Regardless of team rankings, John L. Smith and true evaluators of grid talent are impressed with the Spartans haul. (Click here for Team ranking's- http://scout.scout.com/a.z?s=73&p=9&c=14&yr=2006)

For a close individual look at the Spartans talent, I encourage Spartan fans to look at the finished recruit capsules for a closer look at each individual players strengths and weaknesses which is elsewhere on this site.

The Spartans had some pressing needs to fill, and in this case had to go about doing it in the correct fashion. Sometimes that doe not involve looking at stars by a players name. Likewise, it is difficult to judge one team against another since teams have different needs and evaluation methods. Many players are missed and end up at smaller schools, and then in the NFL.

Smith is considered one of the best in terms of film evaluation, and this class was no different. Some didn't even know who DeAndra Cobb was until he set foot on MSU's campus. Elvis Dumervill and Stefan Lefors were unknowns that Smith recruited to Louisville. Greg Eslinger of Minnesota was not even offered a Division I scholarship until the Gophers saw hope in a 220-pound summer camper.Yet Eslinger bulked up to 285-pounds and ended up being a First Team All-American, and won the Outland Trophy and Rimington Trophy as the nations top lineman and center. Mike Hass won the Biletnikoff Award as the nations top receiver, and amazingly received no offers from Division I schools and walked on to the football team at Oregon State.

MSU and John L. Smith are also hoping for some of their "underrated" recruits will reap the same kind of dividends for the Spartans. For the Spartans commit list, click here: http://scout.scout.com/a.z?s=175&p=9&c=8&yr=2006

First, MSU had a pressing need along the defensive front but were able to fill those needs with defensive tackles Ogemdi Nwagbuo, Vaughn Martin, J'Michael Deane, and Abre Leggins. This was a critcal area with the loss of Domato Peko and Brandon McKinney. Nwagbuo is a junior college transfer who is somewhat inexperienced, but has a great frame and plays very physical. Martin is a load in the middle at 300-pounds, Deane has good speed at 4.8, and Leggins has the versatility to play on both sides of the ball with good football I.Q.

At defensive end, MSU reaped the benefits of signing five-star stud, Ervin Baldwin, a great pass rushing specialist. Also at defensive end is John Stipek who uses his hands well to get off blocks and make plays.

At linebacker, MSU brought in the highly-touted Eric Gordon, a guy who goes sideline to sideline with good size and speed. Josh Rouse fills the gaps and makes plays behing the line of scrimmage. Colin Neely plays with passion and is know for relentless pursuit of quarterbacks, as is Jonathan Misch, another guy at linebacker who like to plant quarterbacks into the turf. Neely has the ability to play any of the front seven positions. Roderick Jenrette is a guy that MSU wants to get close to the line of scrimmage with good hitting ability. Obviously, Smith plans to brings some linebackers on some blitzes to help protect the third tier (secondary) of his defense. Hence, the need to sign linebackers who know how to find the quarterback.

Cornerback was another area of big need and Smith brought in some good ones in Kenny Tinney, who has blazing speed and lockdown cover skills. Ashton Henderson is as hard a hitter as you will find. Marcus Hyde has great feet, quickness, and explosiveness, and Tinney especially may make some noise as a kick returner.

Replacing safety Eric Smith could go to junior college standout Nehemiah Warrick, who is physical enough to support the run and athletic enough to get in coverage and defend the pass.

On the offensive line, pickings are a little more slim, but Jason Diehl has a 510-pound bench press with 4.9 speed. He should be a good one.

At tight end, with the loss of Ryan Woods and recent departing of Craig McGovern, Smith wanted to find some talent he could rely on. MSU found some gems in Sam Gardner who has good hands and good speed. He has a good motor and plays through the whistle. He should get along with another guy that plays hard in Charlie Gantt, a terrific blocker at the point of attack.

What would MSU do without solid receivers in their vaunted spread option attack? Luckily, they won't have to debate that question as they brought in some solid performers in Devin Thomas, a junior college stud who plays his best in big games. He has the ability to play physical and run by the corners. TJ Williams can fly and break tackles in the short passing game, but can beat anyone deep. Finally, David Williams is explosiveness waiting to happen when he touched the ball and will probably find his way into the lineup as a kick returner first.

Finally, MSU added quarterback Conner Dixon, who impressed Smith over other highly touted players because of his arm strength, and because of his ability to read defenses and change plays at the line of scrimmage. Certainly smart quarterbacks can take you a long way.

For additional recruits to this class, stay tuned to GSN as we bring you the best in recruiting coverage. Also, please check the recruit capsules for complete evaluations.


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