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Thursday, February 5, 2015

MSU FOOTBALL RECRUITING 2015: Where Are All Those NFL Caliber 2-Star Recruits?

One observation about the 2015 MSU Football recruiting class is that there are no more "2-star" guys to fill holes in this class. Soon we will have to talk about the 3-stars going to the NFL from East Lansing. Darn! Consecutive seasons with top 5 finishes after big bowl wins with a team made of recruiting classes between 30-40 is pretty cool. What if MSU has a few years ranked between 10-20? Will they do better than #5? Yikes! That question is sure to tick off MSUSpartan76!

A folklore has developed over the years about Dantonio's 2-star recruits becoming conference stars and NFL draft picks. While it is true that Coach D and his staff identified these "diamonds in the rough" and turbo-charged their development, an important fact has been lost. In general, most of the 2-star and lower level 3-star players were not the "Plan A" recruits. While the Spartans landed some "Plan A" guys, many more ended up at Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ann Arbor, Penn State, Wisconsin, and even lesser programs such as Kentucky and Iowa. In most cases, the lower level recruits Dantonio recruited were needed when the bigger fish got away.

Another misinterpretation of the Dantonio magic with 2 and 3 star recruits is that it "proves" that the star system is a crap-shoot and has no statistical value. Well, MSU is more of an exception on one side of the curve while Ann Arbor U is an example on the opposite side. The truth is that, even under Dantonio (and in Ann Arbor), 5-stars do receive all-conference honors at a higher ratio than do 4-star recruits. And 4-stars are more likely to achieve the honor than 3-stars and 3's more than 2's (see the annual analysis of past recruiting classes in Spartan Magazine) So, on an individual player view, the stars appear to be a worthless "predictor", but as a group, over time, there is a better chance of scoring big with a four star recruit than a 2-star - yes, even for Dantonio. Basically, having a recruiting class with higher rated recruits improves the team's margin for "error" (injuries, busts, transfers, bad character). To Dantonio's credit, he really seems to have a knack for picking "character guys".

MSU is winning more "Plan A" recruiting battles, even with elite programs, and that is the big improvement over time during Danotio's career in East Lansing - especially 2015. Coach D has already proven that he does "more with less". Will he do "more with more"? Is it truly "more"? Because of his recent success with more "Plan A" guys this year, so I'd say yes, this is Dantonio's best class and those "stupid" recruiting rankings agree. Of course, it doesn't guarantee a single thing, just ask your local chUMP.


I recently sent a message to DUMP the chUMps contributor, ATownAndDown and others, sharing a few of these of these thoughts and questions.

ATownAndDown's Reply

"We're not selling hope here. We're selling results."
~Mark Dantonio on signing day, 2015

A little over a year ago I wrote about MSU needing to seize the moment and change the national perception of the program. At the time, MSU had the opportunity to go and play potential national championship contender OSU in the Big Ten Championship Game followed by a chance to face Stanford in the Rose Bowl and then a big game against Oregon early in the following season. MSU turned a lot of heads with the finish to the 2013 season, then fell short against Oregon and then later OSU. We can have the debate about MSU leading both those contests and the potential that the Spartans had to win those games all day. But they were losses and everyone started to ask, "Who has MSU beaten this year to be a top-10 program?" The Spartans answered all the doubters with a huge rally in the Cotton Bowl to beat Baylor who many felt was a team that should have been the College Football Playoff. The recruiting class is proof that the Spartans are successfully swaying the national perception. MSU is able to break out of traditional recruiting pipelines and where MSU was a consideration in years past, MSU is winning those recruiting battles.

"Is this Coach D's best class ever?" is a very loaded question in my opinion. From the standpoint of the program taking a step forward, yes it is his best class ever. Being able to have a 4-star kid from Texas ride for 2 days on a bus to East Lansing shows the demand to be part of this this program. When players from Ohio are refusing scholarship offers to The Ohio State University (a program that prides itself on being able to pick whatever Ohio high school football players it wants) that shows how much the program has progressed. On signing day, getting two really nice defensive players from way out West to spurn offers from West Coast schools shows how special this program has become in the eyes of high school players across the nation. This class is the best at showing where the program is at Nationally.

From the talent standpoint that story has yet to be told. Like Coach D said, we are about results now and not about hope. Right now every guy in this class is "hope" in my eyes. They have proven nothing yet. So its really tough for me to say they are the best class ever when I can look at the 2010 class and see LeVeon Bell, Max Bullough, Darqueze Dennard, Wil Gholston, Kurtis Drummond, Isiah Lewis, Jeremy Langford, Travis Jackson, Tony Lippett, Keith Mumphery, Mike Sadler, Marcus Rush, Anthony Rashad White and Connor Kruse with all their wins, accomplishments, awards and resumes. This class has a chance to surpass that 2010 class, there is no doubt about that. And that path starts now. They have signed their letters of intent. None of them wavered in the least in their commitment to be part of the Spartan Family. Now its time to work. I would love to see them surpass the accomplishments of the 2010 class. But they have a long way to go in order to do that.


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1 comment:

  1. From 24/7 -

    “The stories would be endless if you talked to us about guys where you sit down and finally have a chance to talk to them, or they might come to your camp, and there’s something that turns you off,” offensive line coach Mark Staten said. “You guys might see him as a five-star guy, but with character, grades, maybe a little of that attitude, that five-star, in our mind, goes to two (stars) right now. Then those two-star guys in everyone else’s mind who (have) outstanding character, terrific person, comes from a great family, ability to learn, they jump to five-stars in our mind.”


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