3 Jonathan Smith, Michigan State Football 2024 Recruits to Be Excited For

The Michigan State Spartans had an admirable recruiting class in 2024, considering the firing of Mel Tucker and the hiring of Jonathan Smith. Just who are the standouts that Smith managed to secure?
Michigan State's head coach Jonathan Smith looks on during the Spring Showcase on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
Michigan State's head coach Jonathan Smith looks on during the Spring Showcase on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. / Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA

The Michigan State Spartans could have had a rougher 2024 recruiting class considering Mel Tucker's departure and new a new hire in head coach Jonathan Smith. Smith managed to maintain and secure a 2024 class that was ranked 31st in the country by 247Sports.

A strong transfer class, which is now ranked 12th by 247Sports, will give the Spartans more impact players and contributors sooner rather than later. The 2024 recruiting class has plenty to excited about, even if some players won't see the field for a season, possibly two.

College football, like the NFL, requires homegrown talent for sustained success, as opposed to the transfer portal. Like free agency, gems can be found in the portal for instantaneous impact (i.e., Kenneth Walker III in 2021), but like the draft, recruiting builds the foundation.

These are the three class of 2024 recruits you should be most excited for:

1. Nick Marsh, WR, River Rouge (Michigan)

The top player in the Spartans' 2024 class. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound receiver was the 2nd-ranked player in Michigan, per 247Sports, the 22nd at his position, and the 107th overall player in the 2024 class.

His 95 grade suggests potential day 2 or 3 potential as a future NFL Draft pick, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

He's got all of the physical traits you would want in a receiver, and his ability with the ball in his hands is just as exciting as his ability to go up and get contested catches. He was described as a "traitsy mismatch wideout" by 247Sports' recruiting analyst Gabe Brooks.

A blue-chipper paired with Spartans receivers coach Courtney Hawkins could be dangerous.

2. Rustin Young, OT, St. Louis (Hawaii)

A big pick-up for which Spartan Nation can thank offensive line coach Jim Michalczik. Young has promising tools, 6-foot-5, 275-pounds, and plenty to build on.

247Sports had Young as a four-star. Young was the 18th-ranked offensive tackle and 208th overall player in the class.

Young could seriously do some damage (or prevent it, rather) by his sophomore year. He will need to add more weight to his frame.

3. Rakeem Johnson, IOL, Bishop Kelly (Idaho)

Johnson isn't at the top of the 2024 class's offensive lineman from a grading standpoint, but he has tools that can't be coached.

But the tape doesn't lie, and his tape explodes. He is underweight at 255-pounds right now, but he could be a menace when he fills out.

Johnson is very quick and gets downfield for blocks fast, and he is violent toward anything that gets in his way. He has good hand placement and a high motor, too.

Johnson's defensive end tape adds even more intrigue.

Michael France is Sports Illustrated's Michigan State recruiting beat writer, covering all things Big Ten recruiting for Spartan Nation. Be sure to follow him on Twitter/X@michaelfrancesi for exclusive Spartans recruiting coverage.

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Michael France

MICHAEL FRANCE