National Signing Day is tomorrow, the day when 21 young men will sign their letters of intent to go to Michigan State, and also the day when the only fax machine on campus sees any use. While the Spartans' class is mostly set, there will be a bit more drama this year than in previous years. Here are four things to watch today and tomorrow.
1. Where will Malik McDowell end up?
If he committed to MSU, McDowell would be the crown jewel of the 2014 Spartan recruiting class. The 6'7", 290 lb. defensive end out of Detroit is ranked as the 32nd best recruit in the 2014 class as well as the top recruit in Michigan. While many recruits have had differences of opinion with their parents or guardians about what school they will attend, I'm not sure I've ever seen tension this public before, especially regarding a Michigan State recruit. Malik has listed MSU as one of his final four teams (along with Michigan, Florida State, and Ohio State), but these quotes from his parents...
"We don’t want him at MSU," Malik’s mother, Joya Crowe, said Monday night, and she gave multiple reasons.
"Something happened, I don’t want to put it out there what it was," she said of her son’s recent official visit, "but I had a bad experience at MSU."
Greg McDowell told 247Sports.com of his son’s recruitment and MSU: "You have to be somewhere you have less distractions and be around people that do what you do, go to class, be football players, be a student-athlete. That’s the environment I want him to be around, and not be in close proximity to his friends. I want him out of Michigan.
That's got to be tough. My gut feeling - I think he picks FSU or OSU. I also think Malik's parents' motives are genuine, even if it hurts to hear them be so negative about Michigan State -- sometimes one wants a son or daughter to get far away from home to avoid getting stuck in a rut. Even if it's his decision, it's tough for most of us to go against our parents at any age. They have ways of making you feel guilt you didn't even know existed.
A note - please keep any speculation about what happened on Malik's visit out of the comments. As I said yesterday: we're TOC, not TMZ. Anything along those lines will be deleted.
2. Also, what about Jamarco Jones?
A Top 100 offensive tackle recruit out of Chicago, Jamarco Jones is technically still committed to Ohio State. However, he took an official visit to Michigan State this weekend. Mike Boehm, Jones's head coach in high school, had this to say:
"He said his visit to Michigan State went well," he continued. "Not sure what that means, but he said it was cool."
Status of the cards -- still close to the vest. He's scheduled to announce his college choice at 3 P.M. Central tomorrow; 247Sports' crystal ball (for what's it worth) has OSU leading MSU 60% to 40%.
3. Are there any other recruits the Spartans could add?
Two recruits could commit to the Spartans on or around signing day. The first is T.J. Harrell, a 6'1", 210 lb. three-star safety out of Tampa. Harrell's connection to MSU is that one of his cousins is former Spartan defensive back Jeremy Ware. Harrell attended MSU's 29-6 victory over Michigan last year and had this to say:
"I wasn’t surprised at all (by the game)," he told Scout.com’s Dave Berk. "I got there and listened to the coaches talk with them before the game. All I can say is the defense topped it off and go the tempo hot and then the offense got the ball moving. I can absolutely see myself in that defense."
The other recruit is defensive tackle Daniel Cage out of Cincinnati. Cage is straddling the three-star/four-star line right now, and despite Notre Dame making a late push, five of 247Sports' recruiting experts have Cage going to Michigan State.
4. Where will the Spartans' class rank when Signing Day is over?
Obviously, this last question is dependent not only on who the Spartans bring in tomorrow, but who other teams bring in as well. Of 10:30 PM Eastern last night the Spartans were 33rd in 247Sports' recruiting rankings for 2014. I think they would need both McDowell and Jones to get into the top 25, which I don't think will happen. Too many press conferences close to or on signing day have gone against the Spartans in the past, and I don't feel optimistic about those two either. That said, I can see Harrell and Cage committing, and that would probably push the class into the top 30. I'd put the over/under of MSU's class ranking Wednesday night at 29.
That said, we know what Dantonio's done before with recruiting classes like these. No matter what happens on Wednesday, I think we can agree that the future's bright.