Spartans recruiting class small but talented
FEB 06, 2013 5:40p ET
So, he was ready with an observation that he hoped would shed light on the validity of the rankings. Dantonio used his Class of 2007 as an example of how the time to judge was not Wednesday – National Signing Day – but the conference standings and NFL Draft four and five years from now.
Dantonio said: “It’s like I tell our recruits, ‘It’s not where you come in – it’s where you finish.’ Our class of 2007 was not thought of in the highest terms, and seven are playing in the NFL right now from that class – guys like B.J. (Cunningham) and Kirk (Cousins).”
Those players also were the heart of back-to-back 11-win teams in 2010 and 2011.
So, will the quarterback in this class, Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep’s Damion Terry, end up having a legacy comparable to that of Cousins?
And will the receivers, Jay Harris of Downingtown (Pa.) East and Trey Kilgore of Cincinnati St. Xavier, pile up yards like Cunningham?
That will be determined on future Saturdays, but for now the recruiting analysts are not seeing Rose Bowls in the future for this MSU class.
Scout.com ranked the Spartans sixth in the Big Ten and 44th in the nation. Rivals.com had MSU fourth in the conference and 39th nationally, while ESPN pegged the Spartans sixth in the Big Ten and 35th overall.
“I feel this is a typical Mark Dantonio Michigan State class, as he's bringing in players of need who are still developing,” said recruiting analyst Dave Berk of FOXSportsNEXT.com/
SpartanDigest.com. “Quarterback, power running back, offensive tackle and more defensive help was needed. While some critics may not like the class on paper, future returns look high with several players like quarterback Damion Terry, offensive tackle Dennis Finley, running back Gerald Holmes and linebackers Jon Reschke and Shane Jones.”
Terry, Detroit Cass Tech’s Finley, Birmingham Brother Rice outside backer Reschke and Cincinnati Moeller inside backer Jones are the Scout.com four-star recruits among 18 in the class.
“Reschke and Shane Jones are very physical and have high IQs,” Dantonio said. “They will play at a very early time in their careers. They are very active players, and they are very exciting.
“Damion Terry, he can spin it, and he’s a big guy (6 feet 4, 220 pounds),” Dantonio said. “… Damion has the physical skills to play at this level, and the rest is up to him. It’s how he picks things up; he’s going to have an opportunity.”
Dantonio maintained that Andrew Maxwell is the No. 1 quarterback despite pulling him in favor of Connor Cook for the winning drive in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, and red-shirt freshman Tyler O’Connor has a shot at the job along with Terry.
But as excited as Spartans fans are to see Terry, a true double-threat quarterback, Berk cautions that he could be one year away from making an impact.
“I do not see Terry getting any reps or starting in 2013, as I'm sure Coach Dantonio will look to have four full seasons to work with Terry,” said Berk, who scouts high school players and covers MSU games. “I would not be surprised if he travels with the team during the 2013 season to get an understanding of game day prep.”
The players with the best chance to get quick playing time on offense are tight end Dylan Chmura of Waukesha ( Wis.) West, with Dion Sims leaving early for the NFL Draft, and three tailbacks looking to fill the void left by tailback Le’Veon Bell also going pro.
“Running back is a position you can play as a true freshman,” Dantonio said, “and all three in this class are very gifted.”
Tailback Gerald Holmes of Flint Carman-Ainsworth was the first recruit in the class, which also includes shifty R.J. Shelton (who rushed for 5,092 yards in his career) of Beaver Dam, Wis., and power back Delton Williams, who also played safety with Terry at Cathedral Prep.
“Shelton ran for (nearly three) miles in high school,” Dantonio said. “He’ll have an opportunity to play early. Holmes is a bruiser with great vision in the hole. He runs with purpose. I’m very excited about Gerald.
“Delt reminds me a lot of Le’Veon Bell in high school. He ran for 700 yards and caught 700 yards. He’s a go-to guy — a guy who can play a lot of positions and is a special player.”
Dantonio said Michael Geiger of Ottawa Hills High near Toledo, a top-10 rated placekicker by Scout.com, also has a shot at quick playing time as Dan Conroy’s possible replacement.
Dantonio showed reporters a highlight tape of the recruits, and several things popped out: the great feet and superb balance of Harris; the ability of Solon (Ohio) High defensive back Darian Hicks to make people miss on returns before turning on the after-burners; the great speed Shane Jones displayed in returning an interception for a touchdown; and Terry’s ability to make big plays on quarterback draws while throwing every route required.
Berk picked Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard defensive lineman Noah Jones (6-3, 275 pounds) as the “sleeper” in the class, comparing his “quick first step” to that of MSU’s Jerel Worthy, a second-round pick in 2012 by the Green Bay Packers.
Dantonio said he was “very, very excited about our class,” despite its also-ran ranking.
“I don’t really rate a class until they’ve been here,” Dantonio said. “We recruit the guys we should because we are the experts on our recruits…Why did the Class of ’07 succeed? It was chemistry, coaching and their abilities.”
• CLICK HERE to see Michigan State's entire 2013 recruiting class.
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