Spartan Staff Finishing 2009 Class, Working on 2010

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Spartan recruiting under Coach Dantonio continues to be impressive. With sixteen commitments and only three scholarships left for the 2009 season, the staff has gotten a jump on the 2010 class. When evaluating MSU’s 2009 class, it is easy to see where some of the pieces fit immediately. It is no secret that MSU’s biggest offensive weapon (Javon Ringer) will leave a huge void in the Spartan backfield after this season concludes. With Edwin Baker and Larry Caper waiting in the wings, it makes for interesting daydreams about next year’s team.

Baker is an absolute stud combining both power and speed. He has been recognized as an Army All American and is one of the top five running backs in the nation. Caper is rated by the major recruiting services very highly, but has not been given the accolades that Baker has been given. Both of these young men will vie for carries immediately when they hit the MSU campus. These two high profile backs allow our staff the luxury of experimenting with guys at other positions. Michigan State needs another playmaker at fullback. With McPherson graduating, it may open the door for Ashton Leggett to get a look at fullback as both a running and receiving option. The fullback counter has been open all year long with everyone over-pursuing Ringer. A capable ball carrier at fullback could be a real weapon next year regardless of who is playing tailback.

Brian Hoyer’s graduation will make for some interesting practices next spring. Everyone has seen Kirk Cousins’ potential, but Nichol is the QB that MSU fans are dying to see. Nichol has been patiently playing the role of scout team All American while waiting for his required year of transfer to expire. Add Andrew Maxwell into the mix next fall and MSU looks to be in remarkable shape at the QB position for years to come. Maxwell is good. How good? Well, he is still playing high school ball (team is still alive in the playoffs) and will bring an Elite 11 pedigree to MSU next August. Andrew has impressive mechanics and good arm strength. He is a cerebral young man that appears to have the whole package. Could he challenge for playing time as a true freshman? Everything that I have seen would indicate that Andrew is capable, but the two players ahead of him will make it very difficult. A serious injury to either Nichol or Cousins is the only way that I see Maxwell burning his redshirt year.

The offensive line graduates two ‘road graders’ when the bowl game concludes. Roland Martin and Jesse Miller have occupied the right side of the MSU OL for three seasons. Michigan State has redshirted a talented group of guys that figure into the mix. Jared McGaha (redshirt freshman, Powell, TN), Chris McDonald (true freshman that redshirted) and John Stipek (junior) will certainly get a look, but the right tackle position could be filled next season by a freshman. David Barrent is one of those rare offensive linemen that have all of the tools to step in and play Big Ten football right away. He is already 6’8” and nearly 300 pounds with the agility of a man far smaller. Like Edwin Baker, David is also an Army All American. Jim Tressel has started true freshman on the offensive line and made it work. Will Barrent be the next to do it successfully in the Big Ten?

The MSU defense continues to get faster. Speed and versatility are the necessary ingredients when beating a spread offense. Ryan Allison has shown Spartan fans what speed and athleticism can do to a pass happy offense and his contributions will be missed next year. Chris Norman may very well be the missing piece when fall camp opens. Norman is 210 pounds and fast. If he is able to get bigger and stronger, he could step in and play right away. Before he does, he must supplant the many linebackers that MSU redshirted this season. There are some good ones that promise a plethora of depth.

Next season’s defensive line will be without Justin Kershaw, Duane Holmes and Brandon Long. While these guys will be left off of the All Big Ten team, they were really solid this season. It is hard to see MSU playing anyone here as a true freshman next year as a number of players have stepped up and produced. There are a number of guys that have redshirted, but Blake Treadwell is as technically sound as they come. The East Lansing High School product is already 275 pounds and knows a lot about football and the MSU system. His father Don is the MSU offensive coordinator.

As for the three scholarships remaining for the 2009 class, it is hard to see MSU filling these spots with anything other than high profile talent. There are a number of kids still available in the state of Michigan that remain uncommitted. There are two in particular that hold Spartan offers that could cement this class as a top ten national finisher with only 19 scholarships given.

Dion Sims of Orchard Lake Saint Mary’s is the type of tight end that makes our pro style offense hum. He is an all around athlete at 6’5” and 235 pounds. He is a true two-sport athlete boasting division one football and basketball offers. Dion has the ability to be a Matt Trannon type of athlete at Michigan State. I believe that he has far more upside and could win a Big Ten Championship in both sports if he were to commit to the Spartans.

Cameron Gordon of Inkster, Michigan is another all around athlete. He is 6’3” and 215 pounds with speed to burn. Cameron is thought to be either a linebacker, a big safety or a receiver at the division one level. Gordon is still looking seriously at the Spartans and could be an impact player sooner than later due to his range and athleticism.

MSU will likely turn to Florida and Texas in the coming months, as many of those recruits are slower to make their choice. I have nothing to substantiate any of the rumors I have heard regarding Tennessee commitments, but a number of them were on the Spartan radar before they committed to Phil Fulmer (recently fired by Tennessee) and the Vols. It would not surprise me to see one of these kids end up visiting MSU during the winter break.

The 2010 recruiting class is already being assembled. Max Bullough, who is regarded as one of the nation’s top ILB’s is committed and ready to carry on his Spartan family legacy. Here are a few notable recruits that are on the radar for the 2010 class.

William Gholston, 6’7” 245 lbs, Detroit
Is seen as a defensive lineman or a tight end. The words size, speed and agility are synonymous with the two-sport athlete that excels on the basketball court as well. Likely the top prospect in the state for 2010.

James Hurst, 6’5” 270 lbs, Indianapolis
Big offensive lineman that could play both tackle and guard.

Robert Bolden, 6’4” 200 lbs, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
Bolden is a gifted athlete that plays QB. MSU is recruiting him as a QB, but has the size and speed to play other positions if necessary.

Devin Gardner, 6’4” 195 lbs, Inkster
Like Bolden, he is being recruited as a QB, but is a gifted athlete that could play a number of positions.

Jewone Snow, 6’2” 240 lbs, Canton, Ohio
You need only guess his position…yes he is a linebacker. Snow and linebacker go together like cold beer and Buffalo wings. He is the nephew of former Spartans Percy and Eric Snow.