Defense Wins Championships

The wish list is long, but only a few more players will have the opportunity to join the Michigan State football program in the class of 2009. GSN runs down some of the most coveted defensive linemen left on the Spartan board.

With young players like Oren Wilson, Johnny Adams, Chris L. Rucker and, especially, Greg Jones contributing to the Michigan State program as freshmen under head coach Mark Dantonio, the Green & White can boast early playing time to recruits with substance to back up the promise.

For 2009, linebacker Chris Norman headlines an already stellar crop of defensive prospects, but the Spartans are looking to add another hard-nosed student-athlete to the bunch.

At defensive end, the most prominent names are Bernardo Nunez and Michael Buchanan. Nunez, of New Jersey, has put up eye-grabbing numbers as a defensive end since his sophomore season. He's got MSU in his top-3 and the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder will be traveling for an official visit of the campus on Jan. 16.

Buchanan has seen his recruitment really heat up in the last couple months. The young man has understandably switched off his phone because of all the requests and looks to whittle his list down as he takes a few more official visits. The 6-foot-6, 220-pounder will be in East Lansing in January on an official.

Spartan coaches have made the trip to Flossmoor to see Buchanan, who is also being heavily recruited by Illinois.

If those two end up elsewhere, MSU has some solid options. D-end Dylan Farrington, of Adrian, has been on the MSU radar for a while and MSU coaches made a visit earlier this month. Even though South Florida has stepped up its recruitment, Farrington could remain a legitimate option for MSU.

And if the Spartans don't land another D-end, some interior help might be on the way. A trio of prospects have MSU in their favorites.

Raynard Randolph of Maryland recently put MSU in his top-4, along with Penn State, Illinois and North Carolina State. The 6-foot-2, 320-pound tackle would be an imposing figure, especially next to Antonio Jeremiah on 3-and-shorts.

Conor O'Neal (6-foot-3, 300-pounds, Lithia, Fla.) is looking at a few northern schools besides MSU. The all-conference lineman has Wisconsin, Boston College and others attempting to land the bulky athlete.

And there's Lendell Buckner, a name that just won't go away. The Illinois commit has consistently insisted he is solidly hitched to Illinois, but he has also, without fail, praised the staff at MSU, beginning with offensive line coach Dan Roushar.

The chances of Buckner, a 4-star DT at 6-foot-3, 325-pounds, flipping might not be high, but in the tumultuous world of college football, anything can happen. Earlier this month, Buckner reaffirmed his desire to official at MSU in mid-January, after which he will make a final decision.

But until signing day in February, a verbal is only as good as the paper it's written on. What if Ron Zook heads to the NFL to fill a coaching void for a hefty paycheck? Stranger things have happened.

Stay tuned to GSN for more recruiting analysis as the 2009 cycle reaches its final days.

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