The Spartans brought in 23 recruits in their extremely impressive 2009 class. Surprisingly, not one of their commits took a visit to another school after committing to the Spartans. This is impressive considering the number of de-commits and wavering commitments that we have seen recently.
Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio gives his recruiting classes grades every year, and for the last two years he has graded his classes modestly, but this year was different.
"I grade this class an 'A'," Dantonio said at his press conference on Wednesday. "I say that because of the quality of player, the quality of academic students that we have here…and the quality of athlete we have here."
The player in the class that will have the most expectations is running back Edwin Baker from Oak Park High School. With the departure of Javon Ringer, Baker will be looked upon to help fill that void. Coach Dantonio said that Baker will have an opportunity to get his hands on the ball very early.
Larry Caper of Battle Creek Central will join Baker in the Spartan backfield next season. Caper rushed for 1,726 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior, but the type of person that Caper is off the field impresses Dantonio the most.
"Many of these players, and I hope all of them, will have a direct impact on our future recruiting because of the type of people that they are and I think Larry Caper is one of those people," Dantonio explained. "He'll do so much not only for the people at Michigan State, but the people in Michigan in general."
Caper is one of many great character guys that this staff is bringing into the program. When evaluating prospects, this staff looks at every possible aspect about a player.
"We saw 20 (commits) play in person. We saw the good, the bad, how they related to their peers. How they acted when they were down by 20 and how they acted when they were up by 20," Dantonio said. "How they handled it when their coach got after them. We saw all aspects of them in watching the football games that they played in."
Dantonio mentioned that around six freshmen have received significant playing time in each of the past two seasons. He expects that number to be even higher this season.
He noted that Baker, wide receiver Bennie Fowler, linebacker Jeremy Gainer and Chris Norman as well as coach Don Treadwell's son, defensive tackle, Blake Treadwell will have a great chance to see the field right away.
Norman of Detroit Renaissance was the first player in this class to commit, and he has stayed solid to the Spartans the entire time.
"Outstanding student first, outstanding role model…outstanding player," Dantonio said. "He's an outstanding player. He's a guy that's weighs about 222 right now, and he benched 220, 26 times."
Nate Klatt of Clinton, Ohio is another player that will be an important piece in the MSU program. Klatt stands at 6-4 290, and will fit into his role with the green and white perfectly.
"You don't have to worry about finding and making a center. Sometimes you bring guys to campus and you say, well we can make that guy a center," Dantonio explained. "This guy has played center for a very long time. Outstanding quickness and balance at the center position."
The Spartan coach also touched on the importance of building a fence around the state and surrounding areas and keeping home grown players here. Of the 23 commitments, 12 hail from Michigan and seven call Ohio home.
Three players from outside of those two states were recruited as in-state players because of ties to members of the program or the area.
LB TyQuan Hammock of Ft. Wayne, Indiana has ties to coaches Pat Narduzzi and Dan Roushar whom coached his brother. OL David Barrent's father has ties to Coach Roushar as well. The last recruit to commit to the Spartans was Jarius Jones, a safety out of Tampa, Florida. Jones' father James played fullback for the Lions, and he still has family in the Detroit area.
The player with arguably the most upside in the class is Dion Sims of Orchard Lake St. Mary's.
Sims will play tight end at MSU, and Dantonio also confirmed that Sims will play basketball as well. Dantonio noted that Tom Izzo did an outstanding job in helping recruit Sims. Sims is also close with Bennie Fowler as they have known each other since they were kids. Fowler's father used to be their basketball coach.
"Extremely talented player," Dantonio said. "He will be a guy that will make up for the loss of Kellen Freeman-Davis. You can get mismatches with players down the field, you can flex him out. You can do a lot of things with him."
The coaching staff is already at work on the 2010 class. It remains to be seen if Max Bullough can help get the ball rolling like Norman this year.
Coach Dantonio said that they have only offered a select few players for next years' class at this point in time.