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Friday, December 2, 2011

Recruiting at MSU on upswing - Player Development a Key

The recruiting report below underscores points made in post MSU is taking steps to support foundation Dantonio is building

Just Win.

Written by
Denny Schwarze

The Michigan State football team won a co-Big Ten championship in 2010 and will have a chance to win a second straight on Saturday against Wisconsin.

Mark Dantonio and the Spartans hope to turn the recent success on the field into increased success and eventual staying power on the recruiting trail.

The Spartans have 15 players committed for its 2012 class and will look to be a little more selective when filling out the final pieces up until National Signing Day.

Dantonio will get a chance to showcase how high the MSU program has risen to some of those remaining recruits in the Big Ten Championship Game.

"There are a lot of people that aren't playing. ... We're on the big stage," Dantonio said. Midwest recruiting analyst Allen Trieu believes a national stage will help.

"They've had a great year and all the recruits know that. They have a national stage in primetime and a chance to win the conference title and a lot of recruits are going to be watching. They kind of have a week all to themselves," Trieu said.

Though signing day isn't until February, Trieu believes this year's Spartan class competes with the upper half of the Big Ten.

"I think it's stacking up really well. They're likely headed toward a top-five finish in the conference," Trieu said.

The class is highlighted by Farmington Hills Harrison wide receiver Aaron Burbridge, who was recently elevated to the top player in Michigan by recruiting services and also moved Burbridge into their list of the top 100 high school seniors in the country.

Another current commit, Jamal Lyles of Southfield Lathrup High School, was bumped up from a three-star prospect to a four-star on Lyles, who was already a four-star on, is being projected as either a linebacker or a defensive end depending on how much he grows.

Burbridge, Lyles, Traverse City St. Francis linebacker Riley Bullough and offensive lineman Kodi Kieler of Gibraltar Carlson are the only other in-state commits in the class.

The Spartans have been busy recruiting outside the state, landing prospects from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Georgia and Florida.

Arguably the two most impressive recruits from out-of-state are Se'von Pittman from Canton, Ohio, and Macgarrett Kings Jr. from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Pittman, who hails from the same high school that produced former MSU linebacker Percy Snow and basketball forward Raymar Morgan, is rated as the eighth-best weakside defensive end in the country according to and the 81st-best player overall.

In a state where Ohio State usually scoops up the best local talent, Pittman is rated the third-best prospect in Ohio and as high as first on other lists.

Kings Jr. has the build and speed to be a perfect heir apparent down the line for current receiver Keshawn Martin. The Florida wideout held offers from Georgia and Wisconsin and had strong interest from Auburn.

But the underlying theme that the Spartan coaching staff has shown goes way beyond stars next to a prospect's name. They've been able to cultivate talent, which has led them to the door step of back-to-back Big Ten crowns.

"They've proven throughout the history with this staff that they don't need a national top 10 class to be successful," Trieu said. "They've taken guys like Le'Veon Bell, Keshawn Martin and Kirk Cousins and turned them into all-conference players. ...

"When you build a program and it all starts from the gound up, each year they've not only raised the talent level on the roster but they've developed a lot of these guys into NFL prospects and that's big for recruits."

Now that the Spartans have played for the Big Ten championship in their last game in three of the past four seasons, younger recruits past the 2012 class are also starting to take note of the program's consistency.

Linebacker Jon Reschke of Birmingham Brother Rice is only a junior, but figures to be one of the top 2013 prospects in the state.

Reschke already has an MSU offer and figures to garner more as his prep career continues. While he has interest in programs such as Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon and Stanford, it didn't take him long to identify his leader after the Warriors defeated Lowell 24-14 in the Division 2 state championship game last month at Ford Field.

"I still want to go to some college games, check out some more schools, ... but right now Michigan State's definitely my favorite," Reschke said. "Everytime I go up there they treat me as a player already, so it's pretty great. I like the family atmosphere up there the most. Great program, too. Coach Dantonio does a great job."

Other prospects recognize those things too.

"A lot of the kids we talk to are younger guys and a lot of them have to get that experience early. I think that's important for Michigan State," Trieu said. "Kids certainly recognize the upward direction a program has been heading and how those players have been developed."

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