Don't Think of Ohio as the Buckeye State.

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With more than 20 players on MSU’s roster, it would be very difficult to bill OSU as just another game this weekend. Since Jim Tressel arrived at Ohio State seven years ago, Ohio State has been the envy of the Big Ten. Every recruiting service piles on the stars when OSU finishes a class and every nationally recruited player has Ohio State somewhere on his list. It has been often stated that Mark Dantonio is building his own version of the Buckeyes in the ‘Big Green Giant’ to the North. It is hard to argue his formula looking 4 hours down the road to Columbus. Tressel and his staff do things the right way and they have something Michigan State needs… a surplus of homegrown talent.

When MSU has been strong there is a steady stream of talent that makes its way from Ohio to East Lansing. It was the formula that was used when Saban was hired. This has been a huge factor in our program’s rise from ashes under Coach Dantonio. The connections that this staff made in Ohio while at Cincy have been paying off on the recruiting trail. Having an OSU nephew / son on staff with the last name of Tressel doesn’t hurt either.

I browsed the MSU roster and counted 21 total names of players from the state of Ohio. Not only are there a ton of Ohio kids on this roster, they are some of MSU’s most impressive performers. What is even more telling is that the only players from Ohio that are not playing for MSU right now are all freshman and are redshirting. Three of MSU’s current four captains are from Ohio. The * before their name denotes them as a current starter. (C) denotes them as a captain. Take a look; it really paints an incredible picture.

Here is the current list of players from (we won’t call it the Buckeye state this week) the ‘MSU football surplus state to the south’ (this is much better).

#5 Johnny Adams, freshman, cornerback, Akron, Ohio
It can be argued that Johnny could be listed as an MSU starter. He has played a ton of snaps this season and had a huge INT on Saturday robbing NW of a touchdown.

#18 *Aaron Bates, sophomore, punter, New Concord, Ohio
Bates started as soon as he arrived on campus. He is one of the three best punters in the Big Ten conference. Will likely leave MSU as one of the best of all time.

#28 Mike Bell, senior, defensive back, Shaker Heights, Ohio
Bell did not come to MSU and live up to his early billing. Harlon Barnett has gotten some mileage out of Bell recently due to injuries in the secondary. Mike has been solid this season.

#85 Garrett Celek, RS freshman, tight end, Cincinnati, Ohio
Garrett has been getting more and more involved in the offense. His blocking continues to improve and he has shown good ball skills. Celek caught MSU’s first TD against the Wildcats this weekend and is becoming more of a weapon.

#57 *Rocco Cironi, junior, left tackle, Warren, Ohio
Rock shored up what many thought could be a problem area for the Spartans. MSU has only allowed three sacks this season and Ringer is over 1000 yards in seven games. This tells me that Cironi is playing good football.

#3 *BJ Cunningham, RS freshman, receiver, Westerville, Ohio
Cunningham was huge this weekend against Northwestern and has shown the ability to make big plays. BJ must improve by catching every catchable pass that Hoyer throws him. He is right on track as one of MSU’s next WR greats.

#38 Kendell Davis-Clark, senior, defensive back, Alliance, Ohio
KDC could have been listed as a starter. He was penciled in as 1st string safety until an injury forced Davis-Clark to the sideline. KDC is invaluable as he can play multiple positions in the defensive backfield very well.

#33 *Dan Fortener, junior, safety, Kettering, Ohio
Fortener has latched onto the starting job and is playing big for MSU. Run support… no problem… need an INT… look for Dan… need a heady player in the secondary to swat the ball away on a key drive… Fortener is your guy. To say the least, Dan has been solid. Biggest surprise of MSU’s defense.

#50 Steve Gardiner, freshman, linebacker, Dublin, Ohio
Steve is likely to redshirt and will be in the mix next season. Speedy LB with a huge upside.

#7 *(C) Brian Hoyer, senior, quarterback / game manager, North Olmstead, Ohio
Hoyer is a 6-1 quarterback with one experienced receiver from last season. He has improved his completion percentage during Big Ten play and he has not cost MSU a game unless you want to be a nit-picky antagonist and put the Cal loss on his shoulders. Brian has a big arm, he is a tough kid who is both resilient emotionally and physically. BH is a winner. MSU will ride his game to a New Year’s Day bowl.

#11 Marcus Hyde, sophomore, safety, Fostoria, Ohio
Marcus is a big hitter. He showed everyone in the Spartan Nation that he is willing to create collisions. He has filled in nicely for Wiley when called upon and he is a staple on special teams. Has a bright future at MSU.

#93 Antonio Jeremiah, sophomore, defensive tackle, Hilliard, Ohio
Jeremiah is the third or fourth defensive tackle in MSU’s DL rotation. He is absolutely mammoth and powerful on the interior. He has to get in a little better physical shape to play more snaps, but his progress is steady. He will be key against power run teams like Wiscy as the schedule stiffens.

#53 *Greg Jones, sophomore, linebacker, Cincinnati, Ohio
Last season Jones was a freshman All American. Jones has speed to burn and is extremely versatile. Most college football analysts regard Jones as MSU’s best defense player. He can blitz, cover short, deep and is excellent against the run.

#97 *(C) Justin Kershaw, senior, defensive tackle, Columbus, Ohio
Kershaw’s career was remade when Coach Gill arrived. Under the previous regime Justin struggled to get his footing in the line-up and was injured early in his career. Justin was move to DT when Coach ‘D’ arrived and has been solid for MSU. Justin embodies the toughness of this defense as most view him as undersized for his position weighing in somewhere around 270 pounds. Kershaw plays with a lot of motor.

#47 *Brandon Long, senior, defensive end, Canton, Ohio
Long is another defensive lineman that has benefited greatly from coach Gill. Most of us wondered if Brandon would every amount to anything while playing under JLS and poor defensive line coaches. Now that the light has gone on for Brandon, he is playing the best football of his career. Long has been big both rushing the passer and helping MSU’s defense make key stops against the run when needed. He will be a big key to winning this weekend.

#23 *(C) Javon Ringer, senior, tailback, Dayton, Ohio
If there is one kid on the MSU roster that OSU wishes they could recruit again, it is Javon Ringer. Javon is MSU’s Mr. Everything. He is the heart and soul of the MSU offense. He is a Heisman trophy candidate. He is the leader MSU needs on and off the field. It can be argued that he is the best all around football player in the Big Ten.

#54 David Rolf, freshman, middle linebacker, Piqua, Ohio
Rolf was one of the least heralded recruits in the 2007 recruiting class. Star rankers (if that is what they are called) missed this one pretty badly. Rolf is the next big MLB at MSU. He is primarily playing on special teams. This past weekend he caused a key fumbled on kick off coverage and also recovered the ball. He is just another Ohio ball player on his way to becoming a star at MSU.

#29 *Chris L. Rucker, sophomore, cornerback, Warren, Ohio
Chris L. Rucker is plain and simply a big play waiting to happen. He is MSU’s best coverman in the secondary and has great closing speed and ball judgment. He was injured against Iowa, but will likely see the field in the coming weeks. He will play his position on Sundays.

#48 Drew Stevens, freshman, linebacker, Delaware, Ohio
Stevens will likely redshirt. He is another speedy linebacker waiting in the wings.

#51 Jamiihr Williams, freshman, linebacker, Lima, Ohio
Williams will also likely redshirt. He is very stout already eclipsing 230 pounds.

#99 Jerel Worthy, freshman, defensive tackle, Huber Heights, Ohio
Worthy is big powerful and is also likely to redshirt. He will be a factor early in his career as he is extremely talented. Should flourish under Coach Gill’s tutelage.