MSU Site's Poor Assessment Of Michigan Recruiting Backfires

The Wolverines and the Spartans are on different planets when it comes to football recruiting, but some need that to be pointed out apparently...
Michigan's Will Johnson celebrates with the Paul Bunyan trophy after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
Michigan's Will Johnson celebrates with the Paul Bunyan trophy after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. / Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA
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The difference between Michigan and Michigan State's football programs is astronomical at the moment. The Wolverines are coming off three consecutive Big Ten championships and a national title to cap off a magnificent three-year run. The Spartans, meanwhile, fired previous head coach Mel Tucker amidst an embarrassing scandal and are starting over with Jonathan Smith in 2024 after going 4-8 last year.

Oh, and Michigan beat Michigan State 49-0 in East Lansing last season in a game which was nothing but an afterthought for the Wolverines on their way to the sport's ultimate prize.

Yet, even all that still isn't enough for some in the MSU circle to take a hint. Such is the case over at Spartan Nation, one of our sister sites within the Sports Illustrated network. The site recently published several articles referring to how Michigan and Michigan State's 2025 recruiting classes are shaping up, and to say they missed the mark is an understatement...

How It Started...

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Spartan Nation published the above article which referenced Michigan missing out on guys like defensive lineman Maxwell Roy (Ohio State), offensive lineman Hardy Watts, edge rusher Marco Jones (Texas A&M) and offensive lineman Seuseu Alofaituli (Miami) at the beginning of July. At the time the article was writtin, the Wolverines' 2025 recruiting class ranked No. 21 in the country, while the Spartans' sat down at No. 53 nationally. But that's only the beginning...

How it's Going...

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Spartan Nation

While Michigan missed on a handful of targets at the beginning of July, Michigan State was having its own struggles reeling in much lower-rated prospects themselves. The Spartans watched linebacker Grant Beerman commit to Purdue, offensive linemen Darius Afalava and Houston Kaahaaina-Torres commit to Oklahoma and Nebraska, respectively, and running back Jon Denman commit to TCU — all players Michigan State was heavily pursuing.

Meanwhile, Michigan pulled off a huge Monday on the recruiting trail, flipping four-star Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange safety Ivan Taylor from rival Notre Dame and landing four-star Center Valley (Pa.) Southern Lehigh tight end Andrew Olesh within the span of about an hour. Those two additions boosted the Wolverines' 2025 class all the way up to No. 11 in the country. The Spartans, meanwhile, are still waiting for their first commitment in July.

How They're Coping...

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When in doubt and struggling, bring on the coping mechanisms. Yes, it's true that some of the best players from the Mark Dantonio era were overlooked prospects that Michigan State developed and turned into good players. The reality is, even if Jonathan Smith is able to do something similar in East Lansing, it will take years for the Spartans to start seeing the benefits. Smith and MSU will likely rely on the transfer portal heavily in the years to come to try to be competitive in the new, tougher Big Ten Conference, but the Spartans have a ton of ground to make up in order to sniff the top of the conference standings.

Michigan State's head coach Jonathan Smith
Michigan State's head coach Jonathan Smith leaves the file after the Spring Showcase on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. / Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA

Recruiting rankings may not be the be-all, end-all in college football, but they do absolutely matter. Programs that routinely played in the four-team College Football Playoff were routinely littered with four- and five-star talent. Sure, Michigan had its own share of overlooked high school prospects who turned into stars, like former three-star recruit Mike Sainristil. But the Wolverines also had certified studs in cornerback Will Johnson (five-star), quarterback J.J. McCarthy (four/five-star), Donovan Edwards (four/five-star), Blake Corum (four-star) and numerous other guys along the offensive line and throughout the defense who were four-star caliber prospects.

Look, Jonathan Smith is a good football coach, and I think in time he can turn Michigan State back into a program that shouldn't be overlooked in the Big Ten. With that said, the Spartans aren't in the same galaxy as the Wolverines in terms of where the two programs stand right now. Michigan head coach Sherrone Moore still has to prove himself as the leader of a high-profile program, but the 38-year old is off to a strong start in Ann Arbor with the recruiting staff and class he's put together so far.

- Enjoy more Michigan Wolverines coverage on Michigan Wolverines On SI -

More Michigan News:

Irish Meltdown: Notre Dame Fans React After Losing Top Recruit To Michigan

Social Media Reacts To Michigan Football Landing 2025 Four-Star TE Andrew Olesh

Reaction: Michigan Football Flips 4-Star S Ivan Taylor From Notre Dame

For additional coverage of University of Michigan athletics:

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Matt Lounsberry