Certainly you need your share of top quality football players, and MSU is no exception. However, this begs the question, how good are college coaches at evaluation, and do some potential recruits go unnoticed?
Perhaps a few guys are under appreciated, go to small schools, and find their way to the NFL. But is there really that many? Let's look at the top two teams playing in this weeks Superbowl, Pittsburgh and Seattle. Do they have any these type guys? The answer may astound you.
Looking at Seattle's roster, they had at least fourteen players that went to "small" schools.
Even the long snapper J.P Darsche is from McGill. McGill? While punter Gabe Lindstrom is from Toledo.
What about Pitsburgh, they are perceived as the more blue collar type team. Cetainly they would have a lot of major college type stars. However, upon further review, they have a whopping eighteen small school players on their squad.
Cornerback Ivan Taylor is Louisiana-Lafayette, while defensive end Kimo Von Oelhoffen is from Boise State. Cornerback Willie Williams is from Western Carolina, and linebacker Rian Wallace is from Temple, not exactly a football power.
The powerful Pittsburgh Steelers have two MAC quarterbacks? How did that happen?
Certainly, looking at the Pro Bowl rosters would reveal a much different story, right? Maybe not. The AFC placed nine players from small schools on their roster and the NFC had eleven, for a total of twenty players from small schools making the trip to Hawaii.
For the AFC offense, they include, Antonio Gates from Kent State, and fullback Lorenzo Neal from Fresno State. Wide receiver Rod Smith from Missouri Southern, and tackle Willie Roaf from Louisiana Tech.
So you may be asking, why does this happen. How come so many guys are seemingly overlooked?
First, there are a multitude of factors involved. Some kids are late to mature physically and are missed by college coaches. Like the "C" student in high school who is suddenly getting "A's" in college.
Some college coaches evaluate poorly. Some coaches do a poor job anticipating that a kid has a frame that can put more size and weight on them. Some do a good job in this area. Every coach can have a differing opinion on a potential recruit.
Then some kids do not have the grades to go big time, or maybe they know someone at a small school who may have had a good experience there.
Certainly, some kids can make it to the NFL by going to a smaller school because they don't take the physical punishment they would have playing in the Big Ten, or Big Twelve, or SEC. Certainly Jerry Rice playing at Mississipi Valley State ensured he was not going to take the same punishment he would have elsewhere.
Sometimes the kid himself will underestimate his ability, or his high school coach may know a kid is pretty good, but are not sure how good a kid they have, and he is not promoted properly.
Sometimes the kid feels overwhelmed by a bigger school and wants to go to a smaller school.
These are just a few of the reasons kids are missed. But the fact is, some potentially good football players are missed, and this is where good film evaluation comes in.
Luckily for MSU, John L. Smith is solid in the evaluation department. Yes, there has been some attrition, but that happens because it's hard to judge a kids mental makeup and heart on film.
But rest assured, every kid he has signed, he felt that kid could play. Otherwise, he never would have offered that particular kid.
There are some going to be some positive surprises for MSU in this class, and I certainly expect that.
And John L. Smith certainly hopes these current 'gems' will be shined into another gem someday-the kind sitting engraved in a championship ring.