The War Room: Go Inside Michigan State Football
I get a lot of nuggets and information that alone are not big enough for a story. When I have a few that I can assemble I will, and when I only have one or two, I will post them on our Phalanx Forum board. So welcome to The War Room.
· The Spartans picked up their 3rd commit for 202 today with S Darius Snow. A legacy out of Texas. He was a critical plan “A” recruit for MSU.
· The Spartans are struggling to get traction in the state of Michigan for 2020. That is a concern. That have two commits right now, both top tier players, but finding traction among many of the states other top guys have been tough.
· Another concern for MSU is Scott Frost and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. They have made the conscientious decision to go hard in Detroit, and they have received them with open arms.
· One Detroit coach told me today, “I like what Coach Frost is doing there. A good 2019 season could help them. They could get a guy or maybe two out of here in (20), but 2021 is the class that I think they could make a splash in. Especially with a good show this season and then what they are expecting in 20.”
· Mark Dantonio’s decision to reshuffle his staff has been interesting. He tried to keep the entire program in bubble wrap this spring, and he rolled the dice.
· Ticket sales are NOT good. A spring game that once got at or just over 50,000 fell to 12,000 this year, and the youth clinic fell from close to 1,800 to approximately 1000.
· Dantonio owes nobody anything. What he has done at MSU speaks for itself, but to anyone listening (and I am not sure there is any in the football or athletics office that is) that is concerning. VERY concerning.
· Jim Bollman was an instant upgrade at OL coach. INSTANT. One member of Dantonio’s staff told me, “He is a damn fine football coach, and you saw it immediately.”
· Players raved about the instant impact he made. Once he stopped “Helping” Mark Staten, the coaching dropped dramatically. It was brutal.
· The Spartans have talent on the OL, and you can count on it right now that they ARE better.
· One thing I didn’t understand, was Dantonio decision not to let his assistants face the media this fall. He closed down his program. We talked to the coordinators halfway through, but that was it. His coaches that were not available, some of them (You can figure out who) are going to get asked some very tough questions in the fall. Why in the world he didn’t put them out their now rather than deal with those questions in the fall was not wise in my opinion.
· I do not know anyone on this beat that would be unfair with any of the coaches, but the University pays them hundreds of thousands of dollars and hiding them from being asked honest questions, simply prolonged the inevitable. Now questions about last year that didn’t have to be asked about last season will be taken into next.
· At some point, you have to try to rejuvenate your fan base, and Dantonio didn’t help that at all.
· Despite saying that there were no staff changes to his non-on field staff, according to athletic department sources, Dantonio will be adding two new analysts and one to the video department.
· I was told, “He called Bill (Beekman) and said I need it, and Bill said to make it happen.”
· I was told to ask him about that because at least two of the three are going to be Spartans joining the staff. When I asked, and he didn’t answer, many in the athletic department were frustrated that he missed a chance to talk about a feel-good story.
· Anthony Williams the freshman RB got rave reviews all spring. He showed some in the spring game with 26 yards on nine carries. He runs aggressive but stands too straight. He will fix it. He and Elijah Collins had super springs according to several people.
· By far, over the totality of the spring, Cody White shined. He was very impressive prompting one member of the program to say, “He’s the best receiver on the team, and I would bet the best in the Big Ten. He is special.”
· Jalen Nailor possibly doing returns could be huge. Not since Keyshawn Martin has anyone been set to lose to attack. He is a game changer.
· Speaking of returns, I have a close friend whose child played for another Big Ten school. At dinner, with them, their son showed me his team’s scouting report on MSU and the punt return. It said, “With any hang time at all, Michigan State prefers to play for the fair catch. With no hang time, they are still inclined to take the spot.” OUCH. That is not a good look for the program. Let’s hope that changes.
· Brian Lewerke’s arm had “Spring,” and he had a very good spring. His job was NEVER in question this spring, but he did play well.
· Rocky Lombardi also had a very good spring. Before the spring game, I was told by a staffer that he believed, “Rock is at the top of Brad’s board for how they judge QB’s.”
· Theo Day also had a super spring. While not ready to battle for the #2 spot, he showed what the future would be like with him. He had some real glimpses.
· By all accounts, if the MSU QB’s will look at the TE this year, Matt Dotson is poised for a big season. He can catch, is tough as nails and has the tools to be special.
· Luke Campbell had a good spring. He is a solid player who has greatly benefited from better coaching.
· MSU has made some mistakes in OL recruiting, but they are fortunate to have talent on that side of the ball. Some very talented young men.
· One thing that emerged this spring was La’Darius Jefferson. What do you do with him? He is a Swiss Army knife of players. He can do a lot. Probably not at this point an every down back, but he is a playmaker in space. Finding ways for him to get touches is going to fun to watch.
· Jake Hartbarger will probably be the top punter in America if he continues to progress after an injury. He is an underrated star.
· One player that had upperclassman and coaches talking about was J.D. Duplain. Keep an eye on the emerging your star. Hearing a lot of talk about him having the “Toughness” of Mike Panasiuk. He could be really special.
· MSU had several early enrollees on the OL. All of them benefited getting in early. I would not be shocked to see at least one of them get in the seven-player rotation. The question is with the change at OL coach does Bollman go back to the traditional five or the Staten system of multiple guys.
· Convincing Dantonio to go with the multiple OL approach will be the positive mark on the Coach Staten era leading the MSU OL.
· More on that in the next War Room that will be out the last day of April.
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