As you’re probably aware by now, there’s a big college football game going on in the state of Michigan this weekend. The top 10 matchup between the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans has national implications on the playoff and Big Ten race, but will also have ramifications on recruiting.
Since Jim Harbaugh was hired and Mark Dantonio’s reign was coming to an unceremonious end, Michigan has never been able to fully squash its in-state rival and maintain state supremacy. Still, Michigan has mostly been able to maintain a sizable edge on the recruiting trail, with last year’s cycle being a prime example.
Wide receiver Andrel Anthony is an East Lansing native and was being pitched as the centerpiece of Michigan State’s class. Michigan wasn’t sure if he was a take until right before he was going to decide and pulled him to Ann Arbor with little effort.
Defensive tackle Rayshaun Benny actually committed to Michigan State in the aftermath of the huge loss to MSU last season. But Michigan stayed on him and got him to flip before the late signing period in February.
In the 2022 cycle, it’s been an interesting tale with the top prospects in the state of Michigan. The Wolverines grabbed the crown jewel with five-star Will Johnson, but the only other in-state commit is Belleville three-star linebacker Aaron Alexander, the No. 30 player in the state.
Michigan State, on the other hand, has four of the top 10 players in the state. One, four-star defensive tackle Alex VanSumeren, was committed to Michigan before his older brother Ben transferred.
Four-stars Antonio Gates Jr. and Jaden Mangham are talented athletes, but for some reason or another were never recruited heavily by Michigan. Gates Jr. didn’t have an offer from Michigan, Ohio State or Notre Dame even though he has talented bloodlines and had really solid junior and senior seasons. Michigan went back and forth with if Mangham was a take or not, but in the end weren’t too beat up he went elsewhere.
Finally, four-star athlete Dillon Tatum was quite the odyssey as he seemed like a Michigan lock with his former high school coach Ron Bellamy on staff. Then Steve Clinkscale was hired as his future position coach, and he clearly didn’t see it in Tatum after not recruiting him when he was at Kentucky. It looked like he was going to be overruled for a bit, but I think his opinion eventually won out and Tatum ended up at Michigan State instead.
Both schools are still battling it out for 2022 four-star defensive lineman Deone Walker, although Kentucky could be more likely to land him than either of them. Kentucky 202: five-star offensive line commit Kiyaunta Goodwin is taking an official visit to East Lansing this weekend, with an official to Michigan slated for The Game later this season.
Other prospects with interest from both schools who will be there on Saturday include 2023 four-star defensive lineman Jalen Thompson, four-star cornerback Caleb Presley, four-star offensive lineman Cole Dellinger and three-star lineman Dylan Senda. All four have previously visited Michigan for a game this season. 2024 four-star wide receiver Nick Marsh will also be in attendance.
This is easily the biggest event of Michigan State’s schedule this year. If the Wolverines can spoil the Spartan’s weekend with a victory, they have the chance to further tip the scales in their direction and use the win on the recruiting trail for the next year.