How June Shook Out For Jonathan Smith, MSU Football

The month of June went by fast for head coach Jonathan Smith's Michigan State Spartans. It was a busy month -- official visits, commitments, the July 15 opening, and more. How did June turn out for the Spartans on the recruiting trail?
Michigan State head coach Jonathan Smith looks on during the Spring Showcase on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
Michigan State 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 month is June is a dream for a college football recruiting beat reporter. The month starts with an official visit weekend, and then there are three more. There are commitments and announcements of commitment dates and mega camps and camps held at specific schools and prospects from future classes receiving offers. Then it all cranks up to a 10 after the clock strikes midnight on June 15, when the rising junior class can be contacted by coaches. Plenty of news to go around.

The Michigan State Spartans were very newsworthy in the month of June. This reporter forecasted such a busy month, but that was based on primary sources -- the recruits themselves. Even then, I did not suspect it to pan out so successfully for Michigan State. Nine recruits in one month, for any school, is a great number. Smith's June 2024 outpaced Mel Tucker's June last year. Tucker snagged seven commits. Most of them would abandon ship after his firing, anyhow.

Three-star wide receiver Braylon Collier was the first June commit. He's an under the radar player that I think can really outplay his rating under the tutelage of a talented wide receivers coach like Courtney Hawkins. Good frame to work with, I like his route running and release. Could end up being a good, shifty yards after catch receiver.

The June 7 official visit weekend was big. The Spartans secured three-star lineman Drew Nichols. I was confident Nichols would choose the Green and White. I spoke with him before his visit; He liked Michigan State offensive line coach Jim Michalczik, and he had Spartan alumni in his family.

Wide receiver Charles Taplin was a good pickup. A reliable football mind I'm close with always told me to bet on a Texas three-star (Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, too).

Spartan tight ends coach Brian Wozniak got a big high-ceiling prospect in Jayden Savoury, the No. 1 tight end in the state of Michigan. Savoury has lots of raw potential; give him a year or two under Wozniak's development, and he could be special.

I thought the Spartans' finest work was in the recruitment of cornerback Aydan West. They offered him within the first week of June, and when I spoke to him, he said he wanted to commit before July. One month to turn him around. He was favoring Virginia, per the 247Sports Crystal Ball. I thought it would be nothing short of incredible if the Spartans could pull it off with West. I heavily doubted they could do it, I'll admit. I did report their inherent advantage of being his last official visit.

They had a shot. They nailed it.

Take note of how hard they recruited West. Cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin clearly sees something special in him. West did say that Smith told him they saw him as a program-changing player. Plenty of intrigue when it comes to West's potential.

The Spartans also needed defensive lineman, desperately. They lost out on Brad Fitzgibbon, who seemed like a strong candidate to commit, but he chose Iowa instead. Securing Cal Thrush and a potential gem in Derrick Simmons (who was also a late turnaround) was huge.

The Spartans' class moved up to No. 49 in the country, per 247Sports. It was in the 50s before the month.

Nine recruits will do that.

The Spartans also made positive impressions on notable 2026 recruits post-June 15. Edge rushers David Schwerzel and Simote Katoanga are among the first players to come to mind, with linebacker Cincere Johnson, an elite four-star prospect. Offensive lineman Kingston Kerkhoff is a player to watch, too.

The month was not perfect, however. The Spartans were about as close as they could get for three-star safety Desmond Straughton (who chose Illinois), offensive lineman Darius Afalava (chose Oklahoma), offensive lineman Houston Kaahainaa-Torres (chose Nebraska), and Fitzgibbon. All had the Spartans among their top schools. The Spartans were even favored by some of them, too. I thought Afalava was a lock -- he loved Michalczik, had a great visit, and it seemed the program was a great fit. While I was surprised Afalava chose the Sooners, I was not surprised to see the others go the routes they took. Based on conversations with them, it seemed likely.

Overall, the Spartans had a month of June that exceeded expectations. July will be much slower, but there could be more commits coming Smith's way, and soon. Linebacker Grant Beerman is set to announce July 6th, and three-star athlete Bryson Williams will announce his decision on July 11th. Cornerback LaRue Zamorano will be committing some time in early-to-mid July, too. All three players had great visits with the Spartans.

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