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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Drew Sharp/Freep: Top Programs Follow MSU Recruiting

Drew Sharp: Discerning eye key to Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio's recruiting prowess


Ohio State and Michigan are Costco football recruit shoppers. They buy in bulk, perfectly happy purchasing a huge 10-pound roast knowing they'll probably only dine on half before throwing away the remainder. It's the volume that's more attractive. They can more easily afford any wastefulness because they have the capacity for spending more.

Michigan State isn't exactly a coupon clipper, but it's a more conscientious shopper. Value is more important than volume because attrition isn't a problem in East Lansing as it is elsewhere. There's actually a luxury when your shopping list becomes more exact.

"We have to be more selective," MSU coach Mark Dantonio said Thursday following his appearance at the Sound Mind Sound Body football camp at Southfield High.

Selectivity isn't a bad thing. It won't necessarily get you the big summer recruiting headlines and subsequent hype, but an indication of the Spartans' growing credibility as a sustainable Big Ten upper-tier program is how other more notable national programs are watching them closely as they mine talent that others missed. National recruiting analysts hailed Dantonio as one of the college game's premier talent evaluators.

So now they risk doing the legwork for other programs to come in later and swipe the hidden treasure they unearthed.

The Spartans got a verbal commitment from 6-foot-5 offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch out of Katy, Texas, an underappreciated talent that major schools blew off because he didn't attend many of the prescribed football camps. He didn't fit the major recruiting prototype. But as soon as word filtered out that Michigan State landed him, suddenly national players like Texas, Auburn and Oklahoma renewed interest, primarily because of Dantonio's success in identifying pearls from glass.

Benenoch recently announced that he has reopened the recruiting process, decommitting from Michigan State.

It's one part flattering, another part frustrating.

But Dantonio has found the right formula for his specific program although it runs counter to the predominant wisdom that the best recruiting classes are the ones that are stockpiled early. Often times, it's more about tailored fitting.

"It seems like nowadays they want to have the mythical national championship in terms of recruiting," Dantonio said. "But I think when you look at periods over time, it's not always the four- or five-star player that goes on to play. All you have to do is go to an NFL camp and look at the number of players that are from small schools or smaller schools. You know those guys have been overlooked in the recruiting process, so something's happened with those guys."

When asked how he keeps finding guys that others either missed or simply ignored, Dantonio said it comes down to not simply evaluating the player, but rather how that specific player fits into your program's scheme.

"(Recruiting) is not a science," he said. "We try to make it a science. Sometimes, it's not about timing, but rather it's about need. But the worst thing is that you bring in players who don't play for you or you don't win with them. That remains the bottom line. It's not what other people think about them or how they rank them, but rather are you going to win with these players?"

If Dantonio keeps winning, programs will even more closely watch where he shops.

  • Ryan Tremain ·  Top commenter · Fayetteville, Arkansas
    MSU's 2009 class was top 15 in the country. MSU's 2010 class was barely top 40. Dantonio said his 2010 class was better than his 2009, and that has clearly proven to be the case on the field. Dennard and Bell are both 2 star kids from 2010 on the fast track to the NFL. That's just a small sample of the reality - Dantonio > Internet Fanboys ... 100% of the time. End of story. All UM fans that need to denigrate MSU to feel better about themselves, by all means continue ...
  • Bill Cari ·  Top commenter · Michigan State University
    Great article Drew...MD is clearly a great evaluator of talent and a great motivator and mentor to his players. The results speak volumes about his capabilities.
    • Dave Kirkpatrick ·  Top commenter · Northville, Michigan
      Great article. Thanks to Drew for writing about what the country has already realized --- Coach Dantonio and his staff continue to recruit superb talent that fits the Spartan football system - high-character, high-potential players with the right attitude. They then coach up these players to beat U-M (a superb focus) and win championships.

      U-M can win all the mythical recruiting titles they want --- they can put those invisible recruiting trophies in their trophy case right next to all the mythical September Heisman trophies they win every year. The Spartans will just have to settle for keeping Paul Bunyan and competing for Big Ten titles every year.

      The Badgers and the Spartans have quietly dominated the Big Ten over the past four seasons using this system, and 2012 should be a continuation of their reign.
      • Scott Long ·  Top commenter
        "The Badgers and the Spartans have quietly dominated the Big Ten over the past four seasons using this system, and 2012 should be a continuation of their reign."

        In 2008 Wisconsin went 3-5 in the Big Ten and MSU went 6-2. In 2009 Wisconsin went 5-3 and MSU went 4-4. I'll give you the last 2 years, but 4 years is a bit of a stretch.
      • Bob Hirdes ·  Top commenter · Holland, Michigan
        Championships Dave Kirkpatrick???? What championships as in more than one did the spartans win under Dantonio??? Last time I checked they won 1/3rd of a Big Ten title in 2010 and haven't won the out right Big Ten title since 1987! What world are you living on Dave? Now if you want to talk about championships Michigan has won 42 Big Ten titles and the little brother spartans 7. Yes, Dave that is 6 times the titles msu has won.
      • Trevor Chavez · Benefits Representative at American Income Life Insurance Company
        Bob, Spartan fans are well aware we have a program on the rise rather than the established program at U-M. MSU fans are not nearly as deluded about their greatness as U-M fans. Going on to remind everyone of titles only serves to show everyone that you are just another scUM blowhard that ties up way too much of your self worth with the team you cheer for.

        Now let's talk about championships. Prior to Dantonio's arrival, MSU had only claimed 3 Big Ten titles over a 30+ year span. Not only that but MSU fans would regularly bemoan our "Same Old Spartans" when a lead was blown in the 4th Quarter or the back half of a season would fall apart. Now, in just 5 years as head coach, Dantonio has
        -Taken MSU to five straight bowl games
        - Claimed 1/2 of the Big Ten titles since OSU stripped themselves of their claim post-Tattoo Gate (and how much 1/2 is involved when MSU beat Wisconsin head to head?)
        - Taken MSU to the 1st Big Ten Championship game.
        - Created the winningest graduating class in the history of MSU

        With all of these things in mind, how has Dantonio turned around a dog of a program into something Spartan Nation can be proud of? Magic? Voodoo? Did Rich Rod urinate on the Pope and offend God himself? No, just re-read this article and take of your yellow and blue colored glasses and maybe you'll learn something like Texas did.
    • Jason AndrĂ© · Ann Arbor, Michigan
      So Drew Sharp thinks that MSU is being selective in their recruiting because Dantonio wants to be? No. Dantonio is more selective in recruiting because he has to be. He has to sort through the recruiting scraps from UM and OSU and HAS to take his time so he doesn't end up with crap players.

      The logic Drew Sharp and all the Spartan faithful subscribe to, that Dantonio is the Godfather of talent recruiting - that he has higher power and the greatest knowledge of scouting talent than anyone else in the BIG - is ridiculous. Iowa and Wisconsin recruit the same caliber players and have had success in the recent past as well, but you don't see their fans fellating their coaching staffs . . . MSU fans need to grow up and realize that Mark Dantonio is not the final arbiter of talent. MSU will once again be relegated to the likes of the ...See more
      • Steve Luchonok ·  Top commenter · University of Michigan–Dearborn
        Your comment makes sense for Iowa, MSU, and Wisconsin which have not been as successful historically, but not for Nebraska. They have been one of top programs in the country for decades, as championships in '70, 71, 94, 95 AND 9797 show. Do your research before you spout out garbage, typical UM elitist
      • Trevor Chavez · Benefits Representative at American Income Life Insurance Company
        Jason, I want to apologize for Spartan Nation. They are going really overboard over a coaching staff that created the most winning graduating class in the history of MSU. And it's not like there aren't still some living MSU alumni that were in school the last time the Spartans won the national championship. And come on, it's not like MSU won less than 3 Big Ten titles in the 30+ years before Dantonio showed up on campus.

        And the recruiting thing, everyone knows that recruiting rankings DEFINE who will be national champions. I mean, it must be some conspiracy that Florida State and Notre Dame haven't made it to the big game lately, right? So all this talk about Dantonio being a recruiting guru shouldn't worry you at all with a #1 class. Rich Rod always had terrible recruiting classes didn't he? I heard he once recruited a Wide Receiver to play QB. What a nutball.

        So Jason, again, I'm really sorry. We Spartan fans are just getting way too excited about a coaching staff that hasn't brought this kind of competitive play to MSU in a couple generations. We really need to grow up and get over it. Because everyone knows getting excited when good things happen to your team/alma mater is just so juvenile.
      • Bob Hirdes ·  Top commenter · Holland, Michigan
        What has Nebraska won since Tom Osbornes retirement Steve Luchonok? Even the Nebraska players say they are sick of being just a good team and not a great team that competes for a National title. So why don't you get your facts straight Steve before you spout off.
    • Eric Douglas ·  Top commenter
      What other B10 coach is putting supposed 2 and 3 star players into the NFL?
      • Rick Shebib · Works at United States Air Force
        Uhhhhh......no. A school only has a certain amount of scholarships to give out each year. It doesn't matter when they get them. If you're a school like MI or OSU, you can fill up your class with higher rated kids faster. It's really that simple. MSU has to be more selective because most of the top kids won't seriously consider them.

        The ones in the middle (mid-BCS level schools) like MSU, either have kids who were fans of that school their entire life, or will have kids holding out for the top tier schools, and when those offers don't come, will commit to schools like MSU. That's why their class fills up later. The mid-level kids finally figure out they're not going to get the top tier offer and finally commit.
        • Andrew Mugnolo ·  Top commenter · Lansing Community College
          You're an idiot. Look how deep MSU is with top DEVELOPED talent, compared to the rest of the conference. Give Dantonio his due credit. He evaluates, instead of simply reading the Rivals 150 and making some calls.
        • Ross Hughes
          Im pretty sure OSU offered william gholston and that his older brother or cousin went their. So your comment Rick is ridiculous.
        • Dave Kirkpatrick ·  Top commenter · Northville, Michigan
          UHhh .. no. Your post is, as the young folks say, an "EPIC FAIL".

          This year, MSU sent more players to the NFL draft (7) than U-M and Ohio State COMBINED. The NFL is the ultimate arbiter of football talent, so clearly Coach Dantonio accomplishes exactly what Drew Sharp is describing - he recruits simply superb talent, regardless of what the so-called "recruiting experts" suggest.

          Apparently these kids you arrogantly describe as "mid-level" must be working out OK after all, since so many of them are now getting paid millions to play a child's game.
      • Cara Fettig · Ann Arbor, Michigan
        You may have a point Drew. It seems like as soon as Dantonio gets these guys on campus and offers them a scholarship, they are committing to the University of Michigan(See Chris Wormley, Jarrod Wilson, AJ Williams, Tom Strobel, James Ross, Ondre Pipkins, Mario Ojemudia, Dennis Norfleet, Kyle Kalis, Royce Jenkins Stone, Matthew Godin, Devin Funchess, Amara Darboh, Ben Braden, Ben Gedeon, Maurice Hurst, Patrick Kugler, Shane Morris, Henry Poggi, Wyatt Shallman, Lymonte Thomas, and Kyle Bosch). Thanks for the leg work Marky.

        Looking forward to that basketball recruiting piece you're working on Drew. Cannot wait.
        • Dave McMullen
          Hmmm, MSU's QB recruit that no one else wanted (Cousins) is on an NFL roster, while a UM preseason-Heisman award winning QB (Forcier) just got cut from a CFL team, beat out by a MAC QB (LeFevour).
          • Scott Long ·  Top commenter
            Wow Dave, do you really want to start comparing MSU and U of M QB's in the NFL?
          • Dave McMullen
            Nope! ;-) Just thought the whole recruiting angle on these guys was interesting.
        • Mark Mercieca ·  Top commenter · Plymouth Salem High School
          Not only does this approach make perfect, logical sense, but Dantonio has proven his formula for recruiting works. And if you need more proof look at Wisconsin, they also recruit players that fit their program.
          • Bob Hirdes ·  Top commenter · Holland, Michigan
            I really have to laugh at all the msu posters that thinks the sun sets and falls on Mark Dantonio. Is he a good coach and does msu develop the players they sign? No question. What is funny is the fact that msu fans only count the last 4 years of the Michigan vs Msu series. I gess they don't want to count the previous 6 years that Michigan won in a row because that doesn't fit their narative.

            I hope msu fans have appreciated the 4 game winning streak vs Miichigan becuase it 's all going to come to a close this year and the spartans and their fans are smacked in the face with reality! What reality you ask? The reality that Michigan is BACK and the spartans are back to being road kill for Michigan on their way to a Big Ten title game.

            Talk smack all you want sparty fans but the fact is Michigan leads the series 67-32-5 and has won more games than any college football program in the country! What does msu's winning streak have with the president of the United States? Answer, it really SUCKS! Michigan plans on changing that fact and United States citizens will vote the worst president in history out of the White House.

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