Visitors See Spartan Victory, Final Rankings

It took a decade, but Michigan State football finished back in the Top 25 after an upstart season. And as recruiting sees more official visits and enters the final month before National Signing Day, the news is sure to impact the image of MSU football in the eyes of recruits.

EAST LANSING — This time, they didn't even need to win their final game.

Michigan State football finished at No. 24 in the nation in both the AP and USAToday/ESPN coaches' polls, a minimal fall even after losing to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl. MSU entered the game ranked No.19 in the AP poll and No. 18 in the Coaches' and finishes with eight-straight Top 25 appearances.

The Spartans last ended a season in the Top 25 in 1999, after defeating Florida in the then-named Citrus Bowl.

"We're building a foundation here and finishing in the Top 25 is part of the process," head coach Mark Dantonio said about the feat.

"As we continue to build this program, our expectation will be to become a consistent Top 25 team. In the seasons when we can bounce into the Top 10, then that's when great things can happen."

The news comes just in time as the recruiting calender settles back into the contact period, when recruits can visit institutions.

Players on visits, some official, came to see coach Tom Izzo and the MSU basketball team beat the defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday.

Among others, Bennie Fowler, Blake Treadwell, Larry Caper, Denicos Allen, Micajah Reynolds, Derek Hoebing and Donald Spencer, all early commits, were in the Breslin Center, cheering on the Spartans and perhaps working the ear of official visitor Dion Sims.

Even a 2010 prospect, defensive end William Gholston, was in the house to see the Jayhawk beat down.

Sims, a tight end prospect with a versatile athletic frame, has narrowed his list down to Miami and MSU, but is keeping the door open and has been looking for a basketball scholarship at the next level.

Henry Conway, an Ohio offensive lineman, will be in East Lansing next weekend, and has already spoken about the improving MSU image.

And out-state defensive line prospects such as New Jersey's Bernardo Nunez (visiting Jan. 17), the enormous Raynard Randolph of Maryland, and the Land of Lincoln's Michael Buchanan (visiting Jan. 17) will surely be informed, if they didn't hear it elsewhere, of the rising fortunes of MSU as coaches make their final appeals.

Conway has many suitors, and avoids naming favorites, but Boston College, a team searching for a new head coach, has been a consistent force in his recruitment. And Buchanan has named Illinois as a top contender, but the Illini have also undergone some coaching staff fluctuation.

In contrast, MSU remained in the Top 25 after a final game loss (BC didn't) and the Spartan coaching staff, despite serious interest from head coach-seeking programs in both MSU coordinators, remained stable.

None of this can be lost on another Spartan recruit, Illini soft verbal Lendell Buckner, who has consistently praised MSU and still talks of an official visit.

Quite simply, Michigan State is in as good a position as they've been in a long time to land coveted prospects in the final weeks of recruiting.

Now, like on the field, it's all about finishing.

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