Intro 2010: MSU Courting Midwest Talent

"When you look at the great teams that have been here at Michigan State, they've all been based around players from home." — Spartan recruiting coordinator Mark Staten

EAST LANSING — While keeping an eye on the last few slots for 2009, Michigan State recruiting has shifted gear into 2010 recruiting.

Yesterday, Sept. 1, a recruiting dead period ended and the MSU staff put reams of recruiting materials in the mail, addressed to the brightest and most talented student-athletes.

And the focus will be, as always, on Michigan and the Midwest first.

"When you look at the great teams that have been here at Michigan State, they've all been based around players from home. Then you get other players you need from other areas, and to be so close to a football-rich state like Ohio, to have all the talent that we have here in Michigan," is something the staff is looking to take advantage of, Spartan recruiting coordinator Mark Staten explained.

The 2010 class will give MSU plenty of opportunities to recruit close to home. Max Bullough, a Spartan legacy recruit, plays for Traverse City St. Francis and projects to be one of the top Midwestern prospects at linebacker.

Livonia Stevenson running back Austin White's older twin brothers, Myles and Mitchell, are freshman for the Green & White. Austin, the No. 1 Midwest prospect according to's Allen Trieu, will likely draw attention from some of the top programs in the nation.

Flint Southwestern's Dionte Savage already has the body of a full-grown man. The 6-foot-5, over 300-pound lineman plays both ways, and as long as his academics continue to improve, he could be an important cornerstone as the Spartan's build teams that compete for Big Ten titles.

William Gholston camped at MSU earlier this year, and the junior from Detroit Southeastern (a high school the Spartans have successfully recruited recently) likely projects as a defensive end, the same position his cousin Vernon Gholston, an Ohio State grad, plays for the New York Jets.

Other players to keep an early eye on include mobile quarterback prospects Devin Gardner (Inkster) and Robert Bolden (Orchard Lake St. Mary's) and the top Ohio RB prospect Jamel Turner (Ursiline).

Scouring the Region

While Staten is the recruiting coordinator, Dantonio has often described recruiting as an effort the entire staff takes on. And Staten said the close-knit group of Spartan coaches makes his job run smoothly.

"To have (Coach Dan) Roushar in Illinois, who's done such a great job getting our name out in Illinois, to have Coach Treaddy (Don Treadwell) in Indiana, doing what he's doing — every man to a man, we all know each other so well from being together and that helps."

Such a Midwest focus is vital for a program like MSU. Earlier this year, USA Today researched the number of high school players who were eventually drafted in the NFL by state.

From 1998 to 2008, the top states were California (732 players), Texas (592), Florida (565), Georgia (293), Ohio (243) and Louisiana (240). After that, there's a drop off with Pennsylvania (178), Virginia (176), North Carolina (169), Alabama (167) and then Michigan at No. 11 overall with 153. (The rest of the states with over 100 are Illinois (151), South Carolina (143), New Jersey (138), Mississippi (135) and 120 in New York.)

Out of these 16 states, the regional breakdown is nine southern states (2480 players overall), one in the west (732), three Midwest states (543) and three mid-Atlantic states (436). The rest of the high schools in the United States produced 1341 NFL draftees.

Clearly, with such an uneven distribution of talent across the country, hitting their marks in Michigan and the Midwest will be vital for the long-term success of the program.

"That's a big thing with Coach D, he wants to be stable at home," Staten said. "He knows this place so well."

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