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3 Items On Michigan State Football's Christmas Wishlist

The Spartans are going shopping this holiday season...

The holidays are in full swing, and after missing out on bowl season due to a 5-7 record, Michigan State football is stuck at home while others enjoy the spoils of postseason preparation and play.

S,o what do the Spartans need to do this holiday season to prepare for next year? Putting together a wishlist shouldn’t be hard for Michigan State, because they have several needs to address. Here’s a few specific things that Mel Tucker and the Spartans will go shopping for this winter.

1.) At least 20 recruits in the 2023 class

College football’s early signing day is fast approaching on Dec. 21, and many players who sign in December also choose to enroll early in January.

The Spartans currently have 12 commits in their 2023 recruiting class, and that number has slowly been decreasing. Maintaining the commitments they currently have, as well as adding more prospects, is surely atop of Michigan State’s wishlist.

While I don’t expect MSU to get eight recruits within the next three weeks, I do expect at least three or four more additions before that early signing period.

Two of Michigan State’s biggest targets are still available. Five-star Detroit (Mich.) King quarterback Dante Moore is the biggest talking point right now, and with his primary recruiter taking a job elsewhere, the Spartans may be back in the picture.

Additionally, five-star Braintree (Mass.) Thayer Academy offensive tackle Samson Okunlola is still being recruited as well. With schools such as Miami, Alabama and Ohio State interested, MSU remains in the hunt. Adding a new incentive for the Spartans efforts in this race, Okunlola’s cousin Ademola Faleye was offered by Michigan State as a transfer tight end recently. Faleye previously played at Norfolk State and has two years of eligibility left.

2.) Dipping back into the transfer portal

With new NCAA rules, there isn’t a limit on how many high school or transfers you can bring in per year, as long as programs do not exceed 85 scholarship players. With Michigan State’s 2023 high school recruiting class being smaller than anticipated, it is imperative Tucker and the staff bring in quality transfers.

Before the Spartans land those additions, they’re going to suffer some roster attrition. Already several MSU players have already declared for the 2023 NFL Draft — Kendall Brooks, Jacob Slade, Jarrett Horst, Daniel Barker, Jarek Broussard. Michigan State has also seen several players depart via the transfer portal, including several defensive linemen.

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While Tucker is going into his fourth season as Michigan State’s head coach, this is only his third offseason to recruit. The 2021 offseason was a success, bringing in many transfers that made instant impacts that led to an 11-win season, but 2022 was a different story. While they got quality players from the portal, such as linebacker Jacoby Windmon, the Spartans had other positions of need that did not get addressed.

This cycle, Michigan State’s biggest need is offensive linemen, at every position. Without an improved O-line, or a transcendent player like Kenneth Walker III, the Spartans will get mixed results again in 2023. With offensive line coach and run game coordinator Chris Kapalovic going into his fourth season with the Spartans, expectations for him are higher than ever.

3.) Coaching changes

Michigan State’s assistant coaches salary pool was $7.5 million last season. That can be matched with some of the top programs in the country, so the Spartans should be able to have one of the best coaching staffs in America.

I believe some coaches will be fired, on both sides of the ball, which will open up spots for replacements. The easiest target to cut ties with seems to be special teams coach Ross Els. His special teams units were costly to Michigan State’s season. While he doesn’t have the only unit that underperformed, he is one of the highest paid coaches on staff, and one of the highest paid special teams coaches in the country.

Harlon Barnett is the defensive backs coach, and is assisted by Mel Tucker himself. The Spartans need to add another cornerbacks coach. This would give Barnett help and Tucker more room to observe the defense and team as a whole.

Offensively, Michigan State could add another assistant as well. Jay Johnson acts as a QB coach and coordinator, and adding a full-time QB coach could be beneficial. For the same reasons as adding a cornerbacks coach would help Tucker, Johnson could overlook the offense as a whole better if his duties were not split.

From what we have learned so far in Tucker’s tenure, he takes his time looking into all options. With the season over, Tucker has a lot of time for evaluations, both with players and coaches.

In the upcoming weeks, expect more players to enter the transfer portal, including some surprising names. Coaching changes could be on the way too, perhaps before Christmas, which would provided Tucker and Co. enough time to find new coaches to finish the 2023 recruiting cycle and transfer portal.

Then, before you know it, spring ball will be here as Michigan State looks to bounce back from a disappointing 2022 campaign.