In 2005 Michigan State's recruiting class was ranked No. 44 on Scout.com. The players that made up that class had an average star rating of 2.67. They were unable to reel in any top 100 players. In comparison, ND was the No. 27-ranked class on Scout.com with an average star rating of 3.27 and one top 100 player (D.J. Hord). In 2006 we are well aware of the quality the Irish are building up on both sides of the ball (fourth overall with five top 100 players). The Spartans, by comparison, are currently ranked 45th, averaging 2.47 stars and no top 100 players. This trend in recruiting should allow ND to increase the talent gap between the two schools, and begin to dominate this recently frustrating rivalry.
A closer look at some of the players Michigan State is accumulating:
Quarterback:2005 recruiting class- Domenic Natale
Natale was a three-star prospect from the Hun School in New Jersey. He committed to Michigan State over offers from LSU, Missouri, Rutgers, and Stanford. Natale was ranked No. 44 on Scout.com at the quarterback position. As a high school senior he passed for 849 yards and 15 touchdowns. His only action his freshman year at MSU came in the Kent State and Hawaii games in mop-up duty. His stats consist of one carry for three yards. In Michigan State's spring game he was 5-of-7 for 115 yards.2006 recruiting class- Conner Dixon
Dixon is a two-star prospect from Pennsylvania. He was named AP AA player of the year for the state. He connected on 77-of-146 passes for 1,868 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also ran for 333 yard on 92 carries for 9 touchdowns. Michigan State is the only listed offer for Dixon. He is raked No. 77 on Scout.com at the quarterback position.
Running Back:2005 recruiting class- Javon Ringer, A.J. Jimmerson, Ross Weaver
Javon Ringer was supposed to be one of the stars of this recruiting class. A four-star running back out of Ohio, Ringer was ranked No.15 on Scout.com for the 2005 running back class. His numbers from his freshman year seem to indicate that this ranking was accurate. Ringer rushed for 817 yards on 122 carries, an average of 6.7 yards per rush. His best game came against Illinois where Ringer rushed for 194 yards on 13 carries. Ringer chose the Spartans over offers from USC, Florida, and Tennessee.
A.J. Jimmerson was a four-star back out of Hazlewood Central High School in Missouri. Jimmerson was ranked No. 25 on Scout.com at the running back position. He has great speed, running the forty in 4.38 seconds. He was responsible for 870 yards and six touchdowns in an injury riddled senior season in high school. A.J. has yet to see action for the Spartans.
Ross Weaver was a three-star running back coming out of high school from Southfield Michigan. Weaver has since made the move to defensive back for the Spartans and contributed eight tackles and one pass break-up during his freshman campaign.
2006 recruiting class- None
Wide Receiver:2005 recruiting class- Danny Fortener, Diego Oquendo, Emory Jones, Ryan Allison
Ryan Allison was a three-star player coming out of Lake Orion Michigan. He was ranked as the No. 51 wide receiver in the nation on Scout.com. Allison runs the forty in 4.4 seconds. As a senior, Allison caught 54 passes for 950 yards and 10 touchdowns. In limited duty for the Spartans, Ryan caught four passes for 43 yards.
Diego Oquendo was a two-star player who was unrated at his position coming out of high school in New York. He was a kick returner during his freshman year for the Spartans. Oquendo retuned four kicks for 86 yards and a long of 31 yards.
Danny Fortener was a two-star receiver out of high school who has made the switch to defensive back and has yet to see action for the Spartans.
Jones, a Juco receiver, does not appear on the Michigan State roster.
2006 recruiting class- T.J. Williams, Devin Thomas, Enrique Shaw
T.J. Williams is a three-star receiver out of Tallahassee Florida. He listed some impressive offers including Clemson, Georgia, and Auburn among others. He is ranked as the No. 41 receiver in the nation by Scout.com. Williams was down to Michigan State and Clemson as his final two but chose the Spartans after Clemson passed due to his academic standing.
Devin Thomas is a three-star JUCO wide receiver that chose Michigan State over Arizona State. Thomas is 6-2, 205 pounds. He runs the forty in 4.45 seconds.
Enrique Shaw is a two-star player from Lexington Kentucky. He is not ranked as a wide receiver, but was described by his coach as a "freak athlete" with a 34-inch vertical.
Tight End:2005 recruiting class- None
2006 recruiting class- Sam Gardner, Charlie Gantt
Sam Gardner is a three-star prospect from Lexington Kentucky. He is rated as the No. 45 tight end in the nation on Scout.com. Gardner chose the Spartans over offers from Oklahoma, Louisville, and Kentucky. It is possible that Gardner will make a move to offensive tackle at the next level. He currently stands 6-6, 245 pounds.
Charlie Gantt is the No. 52 tight end in the nation on Scout.com. A two-star player, Gantt is 6-5, 240 pounds. He runs the forty in 4.8 seconds. Gantt is from Bloomfield Michigan.
Offensive Line:2005 recruiting class- Kenny Shane, Brendon Moss, Rocco Cironi, Mike Schmeding, Joel Nitchman
Kenny Shane was a 6-7, 320 pound JUCO offensive lineman who Michigan State magically turned into a 6-5, 302 pound player on their roster. So much for JUCO measurements. Shane came to the Spartans as a three-star player but has yet to see the field.
Brendon Moss, originally from Saline Michigan, was an unranked two-star player out of high school. No other offers are listed for Moss. He also has yet to play for the Spartans.
Rocco Cironi is a 6-7, 298 pound offensive lineman from Warren Ohio. Cironi, like Moss, is an unranked two-star player. He projects as a tackle at the college level and has already added 30 lbs to his frame since arriving at MSU. Cironi, like the lineman mentioned before him, has not contributed on the field to this point.
Mike Schmeding is another two-star unrated lineman. Schmeding chose the Spartans over offers from Duke, Connecticut, and Louisville. Currently standing 6-8, 293 pounds, Schmeding remains untested in a college game.
Joel Nitchman seems to be the prize of the line class with a three-star rating and a No.61 ranking on Scout.com at his position. The Kalamazoo Michigan native stands 6-3, 281 pounds. He projects as a center in college. Other offers included Indiana, Northern Illinois, and Bowling Green. Like the rest of his line class he has not seen the field for the Spartans.
2006 recruiting class- Jason DiehlJason Diehl ranks as the No. 86 lineman on Scout.com. The three-star player committed to MSU over offers from Miami, Pittsburgh, and Ole Miss. Diehl is currently 6-4, 290 pounds after dropping about 30 lbs from his frame during his time at Milford Prep in New York.
The Spartans appear to have signed some quality players in the previous class, and also appear to be getting some solid players in this class. But will they have enough horses to compete with the Irish in years to come?
*In the next part of this article, I will break down recruiting on the defensive side of the ball for the Spartans.