Michigan State lost three senior offensive linemen with starting experience from last season, and they'll lose senior starters Jesse Miller and Roland Martin, along with Mike Bacon, after next season.
The 2007 recruiting effort for the offensive line position faced unforeseen challenges. Arthur Ray was diagnosed with cancer and sat out the season. Spartan Nation welcomes the courageous young man back, and coach Mark Dantonio says he should be suiting up in time for spring practice, but his development has likely been delayed. In addition, Chase Dumpford returned to Paris (Kent.) homesick, and enrolled at Kentucky.
While the Spartans have attempted to proactively address their future needs with four promising prospects in the 2008 class, injuries and attrition are constant risks at such an intense position. And for an offense like Michigan State's, building a deep, talented offensive line is the surest way to consistent success. Ask Iowa. Ask Wisconsin. Ask New England.
GSN took a look at a few of the top 2009 offensive line prospects in Michigan and Ohio and how they might look in Green and White.
Zach Matthias, a tackle prospect from Hemlock HS (Mich.), is drawing interest from powerhouses in the Big Ten, SEC and ACC. The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder combines speed with power. He has been clocked at 5.1 in the 40-yard dash, squats 550 pounds, and plays basketball when he's not destroying defensive lineman. Landing an in-state player like Matthias would indicate Dantonio has begun to level the playing field in Michigan.
Ricky Clemons, a 6-foot-5, 305 pound tackle prospect who grew up a Michigan State fan, has all the big Midwest schools' (Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State) attention. He hails from Carman-Ainsworth HS (Flint). Dantonio will work to continue to make inroads in the state, much like basketball coach Tom Izzo has, and could land a whopper with Clemmons
Ricky Harris (6-foot-4, 305 pounds), a tackle prospect out of Westerville South HS (Ohio) has already been recruited hard by the likes of Ohio State and Illinois. He looks to be a foundation player on the interior of the O-line for any program lucky enough to land him. Michigan State is probably a long shot, but sometimes it takes just being competitive with elite schools for top prospects to garner attention and improve a school's perception. Will the Spartans' appearance on Nick Perry's shortlist this year— along with Michigan, USC and Miami — have subtle benefits down the road?
Marcus Hall, out of Glenville HS (Cleveland, Ohio), has a number of Big Ten offers already. The 6-foot-5, 294-pounder projects as an O-tackle with all the tools: power, good footwork, and quickness (5.0 short shuttle). Again, Dantonio's recent efforts, along with previous experiences recruiting Ohio at Cincinnati, will be tested with big-time recruits like Hall.
In the 2008 Spartan recruiting class, 19 of 21 commits hailed from Michigan or Ohio. Will Dantonio earn dividends from his attention to recruiting local talent from those two states? Stay tuned to GSN for the latest on these and other top 2009 prospects.
2009 O-line Opportunities
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