EAST LANSING – Mel Tucker doesn't plan on using the transfer portal to build Michigan State's roster.
However, the second-year head coach understands its place in college football and will utilize it when he sees fit.
"The portal's here to stay, and we embrace it. It's part of our process of acquiring players. Everyone's in the portal for different reasons. You have to do your homework.
"We have to make sure that the guys that we decide we want are a great fit for our culture," said Tucker. "They fill needs on the field, but obviously, they need to fit in off the field as well; academically, socially, we're looking for good teammates, guys that are unselfish and guys that love football."
Last season, Tucker challenged Michigan State, saying, "this is compete to play, compete to stay." That statement was followed by heavy attrition with a concerted effort to overhaul the Spartans roster.
Since November, Michigan State has had 17 players enter the portal.
In return, MSU picked up six midyear transfers, including quarterback Anthony Russo, running back Kenneth Walker III, defensive end Drew Jordan, safety Kendall Brooks, offensive tackle Jarrett Horst, and walk-on cornerback Spencer Rowland.
An additional six players are expected to join the program in the coming months, featuring linebackers Itayvion Brown and Ben VanSumeren, cornerbacks Khary Crump, Marqui Lowery Jr., and Chester Kimbrough, plus running back Harold Joiner III.
"What the portal does for us is, when we evaluate players out of high school, either they're what we want for our program, or they're not. We don't need to reach for guys. If we're not convicted on a player coming out of high school, then we won't take them," Tucker said. "That makes sure that we feel great about the guys that we're recruiting from the high school ranks. We want to build our team through the high school ranks, but we will supplement our roster and complement our roster with guys from the portal."
Tucker isn't interested in chasing stars – football is a team game, and that's how he wants to construct his program for years to come.
"We have to make sure that we aren't just collecting players, but we're building a team," said Tucker. "And that's where the fit comes in. We don't have to reach."
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