Since Arriving at Michigan State Nearly Everything Has Gone Right for Jonathan Smith, Now Some Bad News

The Michigan State Spartans were among the top four teams for 2025 linebacker Grant Beerman, but his announcement spelled bad news for the Spartans...
Princeton running back Antonio Hunter (3) is tackled by Lakota West defenders Grant Beerman (33) and Jacob Asbeck (11) during the Firebirds' 19-7 win Friday, Nov. 10, 2023.
Princeton running back Antonio Hunter (3) is tackled by Lakota West defenders Grant Beerman (33) and Jacob Asbeck (11) during the Firebirds' 19-7 win Friday, Nov. 10, 2023. / Tony Tribble for The Enquirer / USA

The Michigan State Spartans have been red hot in their recruitment of the 2025 class. They secured nine recruits in the month of June and it seemed like head coach Jonathan Smith and his staff could not do any wrong on the recruiting trail.

Come-from-behind commitments from top targets like Aydan West and Justin Bell were exhibitions of the Spartans' position coaches connecting with their targets and the overall program's ability to compete with the best official visits.

Time and again recruits cited the family-like atmosphere and unity of the program, the connection between coaches and players and the quality of the facilities. It seemed that the Spartans were picking up just about every recruit they had targeted with purpose.

Then, the Spartans started to lose out. Top athlete in Roseville High School's Desmond Straughton, who at one point was favoring the Spartans, chose Big Ten-rival Illinois. Another top prospect was defensive lineman Brad Fitzgibbon. He chose Iowa. Interior offensive linemen Darius Afalava and Houston Kaahaaina-Torres seemed like solid bets to wear the Green and White. They had good connections to offensive line coach Jim Michalczik and their official visits went well. They ended up choosing Oklahoma and Nebraska, respectively.

Now, the Spartans have lost another big-time recruit. Linebacker Grant Beerman chose Purdue over Michigan State on Saturday. I spoke with him as he was making his decision, and he said it had come down to the Boilermakers and Spartans. The other two contenders were Cincinnati and West Virginia.

Beerman would have been a steal for linebackers coach (and defensive coordinator) Joe Rossi. 6-foot-4, 220-pounds, and 4.54 40 speed, Beerman could have been the best linebacker in Rossi's 2025 class. Beerman visited in June, and took a liking to Rossi, who he had known since Rossi's time at Minnesota.

"He's genuine, he cares for all his guys, but I think he'll develop me the best," Beerman had said of Rossi. "I think he's one of the best coaches that I've talked to. And there's a lot of good ones, but I think he'll develop me ... with how he coaches, and that's a point he made throughout the weekend -- he put up tape of how he can use me in the defense and what I need to improve on and how he'll improve me."

Beerman said in his announcement that Purdue's program culture was a major selling point.

The Spartans have suffered several losses on the recruiting trail as of late, but there is hope. They are a favorite of top cornerback LaRue Zamorano and athlete Bryson Williams. Both are set to announce soon.

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