Although Not a Spectacular Class, the Spartans Get Immediate Help

The class Michigan State signed on February 1st, also known as National Signing Day, didn’t receive national headlines. It won’t have perennial powerhouses Michigan and Ohio State cowering in fear. However, this class, ranked 31st by, unranked according to ESPNU (who only ranks the Top 25), and 39th by, has quite a few players who will immediately contribute this year, and a few more who will have a chance next year. Here’s a look at the ones expected to contribute immediately.

1. Demetrius Cox, S, 4 star recruit from Pennsylvania. Known for being fast, versatile (he played QB, WR, and S in high school), and for being a ferocious hitter, he will immediately join the battle to replace Trenton Robinson. Also a player the Spartans can have return kicks, line up at WR and at QB in their Wildcat alignment. In short, just what Dantonio and company need, a Keshawn Martin who hits like a LB.

2. The wide receivers, Kyle Kerrick (3 star from Pennsylvania), Aaron Burbidge (4 star from Michigan), Macgarrett Kings, Jr. (3 star from Florida), and Monty Madaris (4 star from Ohio). The Spartans lost all their playmakers at receiver to graduation. This group offers size in the form of Kerrick, who is 6’3″, versatility in Kings, who played QB, RB, and WR, speed with Madaris, and an ability to simply come down with the ball in Taylor Burbidge. Although not a spread team per se, the Spartans use four and five receivers in passing downs, so combine these four with the players currently on roster, and transfer DeAnthony Arnett, who might play immediately if the NCAA grants his hardship waiver, and it should be an excellent competition. I expect all four will play, with Burbidge and Madaris playing extensively.

3. Benny McGowan, G, 3 star from Ohio. Worth noting ESPNU considers him a 4 star. At any rate, the Spartans have a gaping hole at LG. He would compete with Ethan Ruhland, John Deyo, and possibly Arthur Ray, Jr. if the NCAA grants his injury waiver. Even if he loses that job this year, all three, plus RG Chris McDonald, graduate next year.

4. Tight Ends, Evan Jones, 3 star from Ohio, and Josiah Price, 3 star from Indiana. Receiver wasn’t the only position hit hard by graduation. Both the starter and the backup graduated. The only players on scholarship are Dion Sims and Derek Hoebring. The Spartans use three TEs frequently, particularly in short yardage. One or both will see the field.

5. Jamal Lyles, 4 star DE from Michigan. He was one of three prospects the Spartans signed from Michigan, a major departure from years past. At any rate, Lyles won’t contribute much this year as the Spartans have quite a few defensive ends to use. However, should Gholston go pro next year, a possibility if he dominates like he did the Outback Bowl, Lyles will contribute a lot the next year. There is talk he’ll see time at LB too. I’m not sold on that. He’s the same size as Marcus Rush was. Rush added 20 lbs. and now plays rush end.

6. Riley Bullough, 3 star LB from Michigan. Again, won’t contribute this year unless it’s on special teams. But Chris Norman graduates next season. Riley would compete for that job along with last year’s signees Lawrence Thomas and Darien Harris.

So there you have it. The Spartans also added DeAnthony Arnett as a transfer from Tennessee and he’s applied for a hardship waiver to play this year. As of this writing, the Spartans do have a scholarship offer to WR-DB Stefon Diggs though they are unlikely to get him, but the class is solid, especially at the skill positions.

I’m not concerned that my team didn’t get much love from the recruiting experts, but I’ve already given my thoughts on recruiting rankings here if you’re interested. I think the Spartans did just fine with this class and their decision to be one of several schools, along with fellow Big ten schools Ohio State, Michigan, and Nebraska as well Florida and Auburn for certain, to start handing out four year scholarships rather than year by year ones should pay dividends in the future. And much like national respect, the more the Spartan continue winning on the field, the better they’ll do.


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