2008 Spartan Nation MSU Football Recruits and Rankings:

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Each year when I compile my ratings for the incoming recruiting class it is an exhaustive effort. This year is no different. I try very hard to call coaches (who coached for or against) and to do as much research as possible including speaking to two different (non-MSU) division one coaches to help me analyze each kid.Â

Why so much emphasis on recruiting? One NFL coach, when talking about his time as a college coach expressed it better then anyone I had ever heard when he said “it is like getting 25 first round draft picks each year.” What a great analysis.

Please take into account that I do not use other rating systems, stars or whatever may be available. A recruit’s true value is based upon need of the program, his ability to fill that need, his character and finally what other schools offered him. For example, Jim Tressel told me that he has never been around a coach that can evaluate defensive talent like Mark Dantonio. Dantonio’s track record at OSU, UC and even last season proved that.Â

If you are a school that runs a spread offense like JLS did, and you already have five great QB’s on scholarship and add yet another, although he may be highly rated he certainly does not fill a need. I also weight this list based upon need and how they fit that need.

As far as character issues, there are definitely some kids that would come in and fill a need and have lots of hype but cannot stay on the field or even school because of character or academic issues. Mark Dantonio told me “we recruit character first. If a guy can’t stay he can’t play here.” They may be a detriment in the locker room or get arrested thus being a complete loss. Character and academics are a more important issue with this staff, as they won’t recruit kids that can’t cut it. Where as in the past we saw a role the dice mentality, this staff does not operate that way.

Lastly what other programs have wanted the kid? Does a kid come from a school with a proven track record of developing talent? Do they take unheralded players, and make them stars and puts them in the NFL has high draft picks. When I see a kid that is an O lineman, or a running back and he had an offer from a school that is proven there, he gets great points in my system.

So after hours of work and effort, I excitedly present to you the 2008 MSU football recruiting class. In analyzing this class you have to look at MSU’s current roster and how it fits with Coach Dantonio’s offensive, defensive, and special team schemes. To see how they fit and project.Â

1.     Fred Smith WR 6’2” 211# Detroit, MI Big bodied receiver. Very athletic basketball player. Great hands. A Coach’s take, “Fred Smith is so athletic that he is able to adjust his body and use it. He knows how to use his body when going up in traffic and block guys away from the ball. He is the best WR in the state since Rogers.”

2.     Tyler Hoover DE 6’7” 272# Novi, MI Hoover is already enrolled at MSU and has performed as well as anyone in the 5:00 a.m. workouts according to Dantonio. He had over 40 offers. You may remember that we broke his commitment first on ABC 3 and SpartanNation.com and we told you then he was a defensive player. There was a lot of silly speculation that he was going to be a TE at MSU, but Dantonio made it abundantly clear that those reports were ridiculous. If he stays under 300 pounds he will be a DE, but if he grows bigger he will be moved inside. A Coach’s take, “That young man’s motor is going to really punish some people. He has a hatred of UM that rival Stanton’s.”

3.     Jerel Worthy DT 6’2” 296# Huber Heights, OH This young man is tough, and is a great kid off of the field and a bully on it. He would rather hit you than look at you. For a 300# young man he has astounding athletic ability. Jeremiah came in a heavy last year, and Worthy won’t. He will come in ready to play. Coach D’s take, “He could have went a lot of places, but wanted to be here.”

4.     Steve Gardiner LB 6’1” 205# Dublin, OH This could end up five years from now being the best of a very solid class. Gardiner is a very good football player and a better person. He has tremendous vision and lateral movement. He is perhaps the most developed of all the recruits with his technique. Coach D’s take, “He reminds me a lot of A.J. Hawk. He is not the biggest. He is not the fastest, but he is the best.”

5.     Johnny Adams DB/KR 5’10 155# Akron, OH recruited by almost the entire Big Ten. He was one of the top returners in Ohio. He has great skills and demonstrated them repeatedly in the Spartan camp. Is so skilled that he also played MLB and DE in high school. He is a ferocious hitter and plays the ball well. He has great vision that allows him similar to a hitter in baseball; follow the ball when it leaves the QB’s hands. A Coach’s take, “Ya’ll got yourself one heck of a football player. He is going to make a lot of teams in the Big Ten wish he had gone to the Pac Ten. He should play soon if he can pick up the scheme. Imagine a Mark Dantonio defense with a CB that can hit and cover.”

6.     Caulton Ray RB 5’9” 185# Birmingham, MI He is a black belt in karate and is very limber and athletic. He plays CB/WR/ and RB. With a backlog of RB’s could he move to D? Who knows, but make no mistake he is a great RB. Dantonio raved about all the Karate trophies in his home when he went there. Coach D’s take, “Caulton is as good as ANYONE.”

7.     Charles Burrell DB 6’0” 209# Detroit, MI He can move with ease across the field and can also lay a hit. Spartan coaches loved the way he bends his knees and they see him with a very good chance of contributing immediately. He is a very good athlete and again, is not afraid to hit so that makes him a great fit for this defense with some blitzing options. A Coach’s take, “That young man hits like a LB and runs like a WR. I would say that he really is the smarts of a Travis Key with the hitting ability of a Nemo. Those two kids from your Spartans kind of rolled into one. This was a good get.”

8.     Keshawn Martin CB/WR/KR 5’11” 183# Westland, MI Skilled athlete is the name that best describes this young man. Mark Dantonio compared him to Devin Thomas. He has the size to play CB and with a glut of WR’s he may get his shot their as a regular, but you will see him on special teams fast. A Coach’s take, “I know that we wanted Mr. Martin. I think he was the steal of your class and we thought he was better than Smith because he could do so much.”Â

9.     Brynden Trawick KR/DB/S 6’2” 215# Marietta, GA He brings great skills to the Big Ten. He is a “Thumper” according to Mark Dantonio and can blitz and play the deep ball very well. He also has a lot of all-purpose yard skills and should be Martin’s biggest competition to get playing time there. A Coach’s take, “He is a highlight film when you look at his film. He is one of those guys that you may see better players, but he always finds a way to get on the field and he always makes plays.”Â

10. Anthony Woods OL/DT 6’4 ½ 311# Melvindale, MI He has great mobility with his body and can bend which is very critical to a successful lineman. Is able to shed the blocks on D and sustain the blocks on O. Has tremendous hand movement. A Coach’s take, “He is a big powerful player and I think he is more of a DT player in the MSU system. We had him rated as one of the best players in the state and Mark stole him.”

11. Ethan Ruhland OL 6’4” 270# Lake Orion, MI Ruhland is a good football player, but don’t think that is who he is. Ethan wants to be a Dr. and is a smart excellent student. That intelligence shows in how he plays football. Ruhland has the ability to play all of the interior positions on the offensive line (OG. OT. C). I will not be surprised if he ends his MSU career as yet another in a long line of great lineman. Watching him play is a lot of fun with the attention he pays to detail and his work ethic is legendary back in Lake Orion. A wonderful young man off the field but has intensity and fire on it.  A Coach’s take, “Ruhland can be as great as he wants to be. The sky is the limit for him.”

12. Glenn Winston LB 6’1” 226# Detroit, MI Winston is extremely tough and blocks and runs with what look like an effortless use of energy. He possesses great character and has a high motor. Dantonio loved that he, “Never takes a play off.” He played RB in HS, but projects at LB and could develop into some other spots. He is exactly what I mean when I talk about Mark Dantonio’s ability to get solid football players. A Coach’s take, “Winston is such a tough player. When you watched him run, he was never afraid of a collision and he made a bunch of them.”

13. Chris McDonald TE/DT 6’5” 269# Sterling Heights, MI McDonald projects as a TE at MSU, but if he continues to grow and bulk up the Spartan staff has their eyes on him moving to the DT spot. He is a competitor and an exceptional student. Dantonio said that he, “Ran a 4.38* 40,” and it is that speed combined with his size and athletic ability that has Treadwell excited about him as a TE. A Coach’s take, “We saw him as a DE because he is a relentless pass rusher. He has great vision and ability to shed the block.”

14. David Rolf LB 6’3” 225# Piqua, OH Projected by MSU as an eventual DE. Rolf brings exceptional athleticism with him to the Spartan Nation. He has good range and good feet.Â

15.  Trenton Robinson CB/S 5’10” 180# Bay City, MI Robinson is extremely quick and has very good vision. His ball skills are very good and allow him along with his speed to be a dangerous weapon on defense. A Coach’s take, “Trenton has remarkable recovery skills and when he makes a mistake, his speed and ability to make adjustments while the ball is in the air are superb. I think he will surprise a lot of people at MSU because of his ability to adjust while the play is going on.”

16. Cameron Jude DE 6’4” 250# Midlothian, VA Jude had 41 tackles for a loss and is extremely athletic. He will get stronger, but fits well into the MSU system. He played baseball and basketball and it shows when you see him on tape. He is able to make the quick move necessary in the cramped confines of the DL.

17. Drew Stevens LB 6’4” 208# Lewis Center, OH Stevens is a big skill athlete. He projects at MSU as LB, but could be moved to FB. A Coach’s take, “I don’t think anyone can say what Stevens is. He is a very good athlete with a load of potential ahead of him. He is such a good athlete that he could play any number of positions. I think that the Spartan staff just knew that he was a young man with the ability to play, and unlike a lot of kids they can now see where he fits a need the most.”

18. Jamihr Williams LB 6’1 ½ “ 221# Trotwood, OH Williams is very athletic. In track he not only throws shot and discus, but he also runs in the 200. He is relentless in the pass rush and has a great nose for the ball. A Coach’s take, “Jamihr is a top quality backer. He has a way of just getting to the ball. You watch his tape and he is always around the ball. Whether it is turnovers or special teams, he makes the play.”

19. Zach Hueter OL 6’7” 301# North Branch, MI This big powerful lineman is blessed with tremendous athletic ability and is a great student. He plays basketball and has great footwork. All guys are big in the Big Ten and technique is king. Hueter’s athleticism and footwork gives him a head start. He is a punishing lineman that will mature and do well with the coaching that Dantonio and staff will give him. A Coach’s take, “Zach will do well in the environment at MSU. He will get coaching and time to mature. That time will allow him to get even bigger. Of all the recruits MSU got, this kid under Coach Mannie could be a monster.”

20. John Deyo OL 6’5” 270# Richland, MI Another big Michigan lineman that will do well at MSU. Deyo will get time in the MSU weight room that will afford him the chance to get bigger and stronger. He is a great student and kid. He is also very athletic. A Coach’s take, “John will have the benefit of being able to go to MSU and like Hueter, he will get in with Coach Ken Mannie and become a beast. If a kid goes to MSU and is willing to sacrifice, there isn’t a better Coach for them than Mannie. He will make a man out of anyone willing to pay the price. I think Deyo is willing.”

21. Myles White PR/KR/WR 6’0” 161# Livonia, MI White is a speedster and an exceptional route runner. He is raw, but he is talented. What MSU got in this young man is a punt and kick returner and an athlete that can catch the ball in traffic. You could see White play in any number of areas as he develops. A Coach’s take, “Myles may not be the most complete player coming into MSU, but he has a huge upside. He is a great young man with so much talent. He is a young man that will make some waves at MSU once he gets settled at a spot.”

There you go. Certainly it isn’t an exhaustive list, but it took us several days to get back quotes and comments on each one from outside MSU. Mark Dantonio rated this class a B and I would agree with that. No there isn’t the celebrity type recruit, but that certainly doesn’t bother me. Sure I would have liked to have a couple of young men that fit here, but they didn’t come and this is about MSU.

Overall we won’t have any clue how good this class is until five years from now. I can say without hesitation that the MSU coaches when the cameras aren’t around are as excited about this class as they appear publicly and top to bottom this could be MSU’s most solid class in a long time.