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MnB B1G Preview: Excitement in East Lansing

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As a Michigan fan, I think I'm obligated to make some condescending joke about Sparty's International Recruiting prowess or something, but this class isn't one to be mocked. I wouldn't put it on par with Michigan or OSU's, but the gap between might be exaggerated by some.

OH QB Michael O'Connor is an excellent addition to the Michigan State roster. He's got a rifle for an arm, shows uncanny accuracy, and flashes great awareness and calm in the pocket, even in the face of pressure. You'd like to see a bit more velocity on short and intermediate passes, but that will come with time. I don't think he'll ever be a first round draft pick, but he does fit the mold of a top-tier Big Ten caliber of quarterback.

When you're watching GA RB Nick Tompkins' highlight video, the only thing that comes to mind is speed. I shouldn't say only, he's a shifty runner as well, but his acceleration and top gear are something to be feared. He doesn't look like he has the strongest of competition (a lot of those arm tackles he dodges will probably bring him down in college), but that shouldn't be considered a knock on him. I do not look forward to facing Tompkins.

Dantonio grabbed 4 WRs in this recruiting cycle, as well as Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett, to mix up a potent air attack in East Lansing. Two headliners, OH WR Monty Madaris and MI WR Aaron Burbridge, were local kids that both held Michigan offers. Burbridge is capable of making the same sort of impact that Arnett did last year for the Vols. He's simply a smooth, well-balanced receiver that will be seen early and often (I'm hoping there is some sort of Arnett/Burbridge matchup with Countess this year, that would be fun) and has an NFL career ahead of him if he keeps up his work ethic. I'm not quite so high on Madaris. I think he's slow out of his cuts and tends to get fancy and bouncy after the catch, instead of simply hitting a hole and running hard. Despite his size, I also don't see much to suggest an elite degree of physicality to his game. FL WR Macgarrett Kings, on the other hand, seems under-hyped to me. Kings looks like he has solid college-ready size, is very smooth when changing directions, and probably has some special teams value as well. I can understand how some schools might have been scared away by his lack of a top gear or truly elite explosiveness, but I think Kings will be a key contributor in a few years. I'm annoyed by PA WR Kyle Kerrick's highlight tape (repeated plays from camera angles that don't actually capture the play), but even I can't ignore his potential. He looks a bit skinny though, so he'll have to fill out that frame before contributing.

OH TE Josiah Price looks slow and stiff in the hips, although he has pretty good body control. I don't think he'll ever be a particularly potent mismatch, but he could develop into a decent blocker. OH TE Evan Jones picked the Spartans over some MAC offers and West Virginia. I can't find any film on him, since his scoutingohio profile is restricted to college coaches only. Dantonio added another late JUCO TE in OH TE Jamare Mills, who was lightly recruited in 2010 before enrolling at Blinn College in Texas for the past season. At 285, he already has excellent size and should be counted on to contribute early.

The Spartans bolstered depth on the offensive line with the addition of four lowly touted guys from the Midwest. MI (Gibraltar) OT Kodi Kieler looked like he was headed towards a MAC career until the Spartans offered, an opportunity he instantly jumped on. Kieler looks like he'll be a versatile swing-man on the line, but I think he has slow feet and weak competition. MI (Plainfield) OT Jack Conklin, like Jamare Mills, was a late addition to the class in April. He was all set to head to Fork Union Military Academy in VA until MSU swooped in. He chose MSU over preferred walk-on offers from Michigan, Western Michigan, and Illinois. OH OL Benny McGowan is, by far, the best of the bunch. McGowan has good technique, understands leverage, and is a nasty in-line blocker. He should have a bright future in the interior of the line. OH OL Zach Higgins has decent athleticism, but I don't think he shows a lot of intensity while he's playing, and has a tendency to block high.

With such an emphasis on the offense, there wasn't a whole lot of room for the defensive side of the ball, signing only 7 players on that side. After losing OH DE Se'Von Pittman to Ohio State, the only lineman signed was a sleeper out of Oregon, David Fennell. Fennell is going to require a lot of technical work, but you can't teach that kind of athleticism for a kid that's 280 pounds.

Two Michigan products were added to an already stacked linebacking corp in East Lansing. MI LB Jamal Lyles is an athletic, smart 'backer that is dripping with upside. Lyles looks like he best fits as an outside linebacker. The younger brother of starting Spartans MLB Max Bullough, Riley, surprised no one by picking MSU early on in the process. He looks like another prototypical MLB. He lacks a bit of athleticism, but he more than makes up for it with his instincts.

Outside of perhaps Burbridge, the most highly touted player in the class would have to be PA S Demetrious Cox. The physical, rangy safety picked Michigan State over Wisconsin, Penn State (the Lions may have had a top 3 class if not for the drama in State College), and Ohio State. He'll have a few years to learn the ropes behind starters Isaiah Lewis and Kurtis Drummond, but should be a heavy contender for playing time once they leave. OH S Mark Meyers is another product of Whitmer HS in Toledo. He played CB in high school, but is too stiff to play that in college. He has decent range, but I don't see a great deal of upside.

MSU grabbed another DB from a historic Ohio program in Jermaine Edmondson from Canton McKinley (teammate of the aforementioned Se'Von Pittman). I don't think Edmondson is especially sudden, but he's a long-strider with a great deal of physicality and a solid set of hands. I can't find any highlights of FL DB Ezra Robinson, but he did have a fairly impressive offer list, picking Michigan State over the likes of Clemson, Georgia Tech, and West Virginia. From a Florida kid, that isn't bad.

Most Michigan fans are likely familiar with LS Taybor Pepper by this point. He accepted a preferred walk-on spot with Michigan before being offered a full ride to Michigan State, and wisely accepting.

All in all, it's a quality class for Michigan State to continue competing among the best in the Big Ten. The skill position players on offense are top-tier, and Dantonio added a smattering of promising prospects on the line and on defense, as well.









BEST NAME--> Macgarrett Kings Jr.

THE FINAL VERDICT--UNDER OR OVERRATED CLASS? Flipped the ratings from Nebraska. Somewhere in between 3rd and fifth. There's a definite second tier after UM and OSU, and I'd have trouble distinguishing between Nebraska, MSU, and Purdue for that spot. Probably throw Iowa in that second tier, as well.