If there is one situation Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio thrives in, it’s flying under the radar. Dantonio’s teams have often taken on the “chip on the shoulder” mentality and “underdog” persona, while backing down from no other program.
So, it’s really no surprise that MSU doesn’t get a lot of media attention, especially in the recruiting realm. Dantonio is piecing together one of his strongest recruiting classes yet with the 2018 group, and he isn’t quite done with a few scholarship spots still open.
Though you may not often hear Michigan State’s named mentioned with schools like Ohio State, Miami (FL.), Notre Dame, Georgia or Texas when pundits are discussing 2018 recruiting classes, the Spartans are bringing in some high-quality student athletes next year.
Per 247Sports, Michigan State currently ranks just outside of the top-20 in the nation, at No. 21. The Spartans’ 2018 class currently has an average rating of 0.8701, which ranks MSU fifth in the Big Ten as of press time.
Only the 2015 (0.8766) and 2016 (0.8887) classes finished with higher ratings than the 0.8701 mark during the Dantonio era. But the top three players, and four players overall, from the 2016 class are no longer with the team as they were all released following criminal sexual conduct charges.
Michigan State’s 2018 class ranks even higher according to Rivals. The Spartans sit at No. 13 there and are credited for having five four-star recruits, as opposed to four on 247Sports.
The class is led by four-star cornerback Kalon Gervin (highest-rated recruit), four-star tight end Trenton Gillison, four-star defensive back/athlete Xavier Henderson and four-star quarterback Theo Day.
However, what makes the potential of this class so special is that a lot of these players may have been under-recruited and overlooked. I’ve had the pleasure to speak with many of these recruits and all I can say is don’t sleep on recruits such as cornerback Davion Williams, offensive lineman Jacob Isaia, linebackers Jeslord Boateng and Chase Kline and many others.
The 2018 class is extremely deep on defense, especially at the defensive back position. Gervin, Williams and Henderson are all ridiculously talented players and each one is expected to play the cornerback position. But once again, it’s the depth that is promising. Christian Jackson and Michael Dowell, two of the earlier commits in the class, are also versatile players who will slot in nicely in the defensive backfield. Plus, it’s safe to say we’re fans of the Dowell family around these parts.
The recent pick-up of three-star athlete La’Darius Jefferson is also intriguing. Jefferson is a state champion and Michigan’s Mr. Football in 2017. Jefferson quarterbacked Muskegon to a state title, while gaining 3,300 total yards and 54 total touchdowns. His college position is up in the air at this point, but he should be able to make some sort of impact on offense.
You never know what you’re actually going to get from an incoming group, but Dantonio is one of the best coaches in the country in terms of getting the most out his players, not matter what their recruiting ranking was. His guys buy into that “us against the world” mentality. I think a lot of the the incoming freshmen are perfect fits for the program.
The 2018 class currently stands at 20 recruits. College recruiting classes can max out at 25 new scholarship players per year, though MSU is not expected to reach that number. Check out the current recruits below (stars based on 247Sports ratings):
- Kalon Gervin, four-star recruit, CB, Cass Technical, Detroit, Michigan
- Trenton Gillison, four-star recruit, TE, Pickerington Central, Pickerington, Ohio
- Xavier Henderson, four-star recruit, Athlete/DB, Pickerington Central, Pickerington, Ohio
- Theo Day, four-star recruit, QB, Divine Child, Dearborn, Michigan
- Chase Kline, three-star recruit, LB, Chardon, Chardon, Ohio
- Davion Williams, three-star recruit, CB, Belleville, Belleville, Michigan
- Michael Dowell, three-star recruit, DB, St. Edward, Lakewood, Ohio
- James Ohonba, three-star recruit, OT, Woodland, Stockbridge, Georgia
- Julian Major, three-star recruit, WR, Penn Hills, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Dimitri Douglas, three-star recruit, OT, Saline, Saline, Michigan
- La’Darius Jefferson, three-star recruit, Athlete/Dual-threat QB, Muskegon, Muskegon, Michigan
- Chris Jackson, three-star recruit, CB, Lassiter, Marietta, Georgia
- Jeslord Boateng, three-star recruit, OLB, Dublin Coffman, Dublin, Ohio
- Parks Gissinger, three-star recruit, DE, Chaminade, West Hills, California
- Elijah Collins, three-star recruit, RB, U of D Jesuit, Detroit, Michigan
- Jacob Isaia, three-star recruit, OL, Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Jacob Slade, three-star recruit, DE, Olentangy, Lewis Center, Ohio
- Edward Warinner, three-star recruit, LB, Olentangy LIberty, Powell, Ohio
- Javez Alexander, three-star recruit, Athlete, Sandusky, Sandusky, Ohio
- Zachary Slade, three-star recruit, DE, Olentangy, Lewis Center, Ohio
For more in-depth information on the recruits, be sure to check out our Commitment Spotlight Series where we conduct interviews with and write feature stories about future Spartans.