Dantonio quote to look at again after the Georgia game: "Really, when you look at our football team we are relatively young. We really have one senior in our top 22 on defense with (Kevin) Pickelman being out and (Johnathan) Strayhorn being out."
If the D stands in the Outback Bowl, it is a very good sign for 2012 and beyond. See the current 2-deep depth chart here. It gives us a glimpse of the future (discussed further, below)
QB (-): Lose leadership and experience, but gain skill with Andrew Maxwell (Elite-11, 4-star, red-shirt junior).
TE/FB (-): Lose Celek and Linthicum, but stepping in is Dion Sims. That is a + in the match-up department, but depth/experience as well as the FB position loss (Anderson) brings this 2012 playing group down to a minus vs. 2011
WR (-): Lose starters Cunningham and Matin and reserve Nichol, but filling their roles will likely be Tony Lippett, Bennie Fowler and Keith Mumphery (or one of the promising freshmen who were red-shirted this year. MSU is also in on recruiting a top JC WR for 2012). That's a good, athletic group of starters for 2012 - the problem will be experience and depth. The loss of Donald Spencer last summer really hurts here - but wait! See the OL and RB projections.
OL (+): We lose a senior captain in Joel Foreman, and everyone else returns plus two medical red-shirts who were starters at the beginning of 2011. Treadwell, in my opinion, will switch back to DL (where he was in the playing group as a freshman and sophomore) if Worthy goes pro.
RB (+): The same crew will be back, but more experienced and likely bigger and/or faster and more hungry. Combined with a + on the offensive line, we should dominate the ground game - which in turn helps a new QB and receivers.
Overall, that's not that huge of a drop-off for the offense, especially when balanced by an even more experienced defense and all key contributors (except Martin, PR) are returning on special teams (K, P, KR). That end of the game field goal or big punt possibility should not be underestimated. The improved running game will also help shorten games when we have a lead. The future is bright.
See future schedules here.
Offense — Kirk Cousins 2-star (’07), Le’Veon Bell 2-star (’10), B.J. Cunningham 2-star (’07), Keshawn Martin 3-star (’08), Keith Nichol 4-star (’07-Oklahoma), Brian Linthicum 3-star (’08-Clemson), Dan France 3-star (’09), Joel Foreman 2-star (’07), Travis Jackson 3-star (’10), Chris McDonald 3-star (’08), Fou Fonoti 3-star (’11-JC)
Defense — Will Gholston 5-star (’10), Kevin Pickelman 2-star (’07), Jerel Worthy 3-star (’08), Marcus Rush 3-star (’10), Denicos Allen 3-star (’09), Max Bullough 4-star (’10), Chris Norman 4-star (’09), Darqueze Dennard 2-star (’10), Trenton Robinson 2-star (’08), Isaiah Lewis 4-star (’10), Johnny Adams 3-star (’08)
A few of things jump out at me. First, the highest-rated recruit on offense is Nichol, who of course was a 4-star quarterback not wide receiver. Second, Pickelman was a 2-star tight end prospect and turned into a solid defensive tackle.
Next, other than Gholston, Bullough, Norman and Lewis, none of the 22 starters were considered highly sought after recruits at their positions.
Full post on Little Brother
Because of the Spartans success, and media misinformation, fans have been falsely led to believe that Dantonio has consistently recruited highly ranked classes - even to point that most people thought MSU had more "talent" on the field than chUMps and the last four years. This perception is not accurate when looking the "raw" talent in the recruiting classes. Coaching and player development have been at least as important as the talent level of high school seniors who chose MSU.
Before you rip the recruiting rankings concept - let me state an indisputable fact. The percentage 5-star recruits who achieve all-conference honors and are drafted to the NFL, is far higher than that of 4-star recruits. The gap between 4-star and 3-star is even larger. At the very least, recruiting higher rated players gives a program a greater margin of error to cover missed player evaluations, injuries and "bad apples". See Spartan Magazine for in-depth statistical analysis to support these claims. What Dantonio and his staff has done is develop (and retain) players so well that many, including TV game commentators, assume they were blue-chip recruits to begin with.
Recruiting rankings by year (Rivals.com) for top Legends Division teams:
MSU chUMps Nebraska Iowa
2012 (updated 39 2 45 Not in top 50
2011 31 21 15 30
2010 30 20 22 42
2009 17 8 28 NR
2008 47 10* 30 NR (*chUMps transition class)
2007 42* 12 13 28 (*MSU transition class)
John L Smith...
2006 33 13 20 39
2005 35 6 5 11
2004 16 5 27 38
2003 NR 17 42 43
Spartan rankings are not any better now than under John L. Smith. In fact, JLS has the highest ranked class, and Dantonio has the two lowest ranked classes when comparing head-to-head. Although MSU is now recruiting smarter (for needs and evaluations) and getting players, who in the past may have selected direct rivals - particularly chUMps. That makes these higher value classes than the rankings might suggest. By the way, those of you who think chUMps are going away might want to note the huge edge in the quality of "raw material" they have to work with. Hopefully, their coaching is not up to par in the development department, and MSU's staff will remain the equalizer.
If you would like to see the full previous post, click here.