MSU Building Florida Cachet

"I think the media exposure down there and just being there in that environment and in that community of Florida will help us." — Mark Dantonio

EAST LANSING — As the first contact period of the NCAA recruiting cycle winds down, Spartan coach Mark Dantonio must be pleased with the progress his program has made in the recruiting trenches.

MSU has landed 17 student-athletes for 2009 and is looking for a select few to fill out the class.

Dion Sims is at the top of the list. GSN has learned an Ohio kicker, Eric Duale, might be in the mix for a scholarship this year, or perhaps next year as a gray-shirt. And securing another prospect in the secondary or on the offensive or defensive lines is tempting.

One thing's for sure — recruiting is headed in the right direction, and playing on New Year's Day in Florida will only help. Although he will be unable to visit targeted recruits in the Sunshine State due to the impending dead period, Dantonio says the trip is a boon.

"Just being there, having the exposure in Florida and in Orlando, and then having the National exposure of playing on New Year's Day is gonna help us," he says.

Southern exposure is nothing new to the staff, who have hit the friendly skies in an attempt to lure targeted players north to play in East Lansing.

"We've been down to Florida — the last three weeks we've been down two weeks of that," Dantonio says. "We have guys on the board."

The players MSU is after are "heavily recruited," Dantonio says, indicating Jairus Jones, a safety from Tampa, may still be a priority. Jones is being courted by the likes of North Carolina State, Nebraska and South Florida, among others.

"We'll see how we do with those guys (in Florida)," Dantonio says. "But the bulk of our recruiting will be done here in Michigan and in the Midwest, then we'll move outside for specifics."

But even without landing a prized Florida prospect, Dantonio is looking toward the future as his program works to continue to build recruiting recognition nationwide with a 10-win season and final-game victory over a top SEC team — the Georgia Bulldogs — in one of the most football-crazed states in the nation.

"I think the media exposure down there and just being there in that environment and in that community of Florida will help us," he says.


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