A Must Watch for Michigan State Football on Signing Day
After a 39-24 loss at Penn State last week, Mel Tucker spoke for 26 minutes during his post-game press conference.
The Michigan state freshman has never been asked about recruiting once, but he has brought up the subject several times on his own. He said staff should “recruit like maniacs”. The timing of the declaration was no coincidence, with the early signing period Wednesday through Friday for the recruiting class of 2021, followed by the traditional period in February.
Tucker has been emphasizing the importance of recruiting since he was hired in February after Mark Dantonio retired after 13 seasons at the helm of Michigan State. This process quickly became seriously complicated by the NCAA recruiting deadlines on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It has been continuously extended and now lasts at least until April 15, 2021.
Although the Spartans had a group of prospects on campus just before in-person recruiting closed, they were forced to rely on calls, texts, video conferences and virtual tours. It all led to Tucker’s early signing period and recruiting first class as head of the state of Michigan. Here’s what to watch out for on Wednesday:
Who signs, who doesn’t?
The Spartans had 19 players signed up to their 2021 recruiting class, but Australian punter Mark Vassett deleted his signing tweet and did not respond to a message from MLive regarding his status.
Michigan State’s 2021 class is ranked 10th in the Big Ten and 42nd nationally by 247Sports Composite. But how many of these commitments will be signed on Wednesday?
“The indication is that most of the guys who are signed up will sign, but we’ll just have to see,” Tucker said last week. “Recruiting is fluid and you never know until you know it, and they don’t get signed until they’re signed. But we’re ready to fight for our guys, for whoever we want, until the 16th and beyond, until February, until the 11th hour. The hay is never in the barn.
More than half of Michigan state’s pledges have indicated publicly or to MLive that they plan to sign on Wednesday. However, there are notable absences from the group.
Rayshaun Benny, a four-star defensive tackle from Oak Park High School and Michigan State’s top entry, told MLive he won’t sign until February.
Audric Estime, a four-star running back from St. Joseph Regional High School in New Jersey, recently said NJ.com he will “most likely” wait to sign in February and still attracted interest from Notre Dame, Rutgers, Iowa, Penn State and Wisconsin. This was before reporting an offer from Notre Dame on Monday. Esteem says Rivals.com On Monday, Notre-Dame’s offer “means a lot”, but “things are pretty strong with the state of Michigan right now,” making it unclear which school he will sign with and when that will happen.
Geno VanDeMark, regional teammate of Estime St. Joseph, a three-star offensive lineman, said NJ.com last week he was “solid” on his commitment to the state of Michigan, but it’s unclear whether he will sign on Wednesday.
Benny, Estime, and VanDeMark are the three highest-rated commits in the state of Michigan, according to 247Sports Composite. And there is a difference between making a verbal commitment and signing a national letter of intent.
“We’re not opposed to competing and fighting for guys,” Tucker said last week. “It’s not fair to say ‘oh, well he doesn’t want to come so we’ll move on to the next guy.’ If he’s a guy we want and can feel like we can still have him, then we have to fight for him and try to catch him. And then if we can’t get the guy, we move on to the next guy but we’ll fight for the guys. I would love to sign as many guys as possible in December and then we’ll take it from there.
Will there be any surprises?
The early signing period is now in its fourth year and has been mostly drama-free so far for the Spartans. In the last three rounds, they have signed 56 of the 59 publicly entered players on the first day of the first period.
The biggest move for Michigan State on a first day of signing so far came two years ago when Rutgers knocked down Spartans running back Aaron Young, who sidelined defensive tackle Maverick Hansen from the central Michigan on the same day. Additionally, Michigan state receiver Alante Brown didn’t sign early in the period and eventually spent a year in prep school before picking Nebraska.
While the last three days of early signing went off without incident for Michigan State, that could change this year, with Notre Dame making a late push for Estime as the best prospects for the program remain in flux. And there are others to watch out for as well.
Four-star linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, has been involved with USC since February 2018. However, his older brother Palaie Gaoteote, a junior linebacker at USC, has entered the transfer portal. last week. Recruiting analysts recently predicted Ma’a Gaoteote will sign with the Spartans. He is listed as the # 11 outside linebacker and # 155 player overall in the 2021 class and is ranked higher than any player engaged in the Spartans.
Michael Myslinski, a three-star offensive lineman at Bishop Kenny High School in Florida, pulled out of Texas last week. He previously included the state of Michigan in his top schools and visited East Lansing in July.
How will Tucker rate the class?
NCAA rules prohibit coaches from publicly discussing rookies until they sign. Tucker will have the opportunity to comment on his first class at Michigan State on Wednesday, as he is expected to speak with reporters and appear on the Big Ten Network the same day.
When Tucker was hired on February 12, he inherited a team. He continually insisted on the need to build a culture, to know who is suitable and who does not and in November said: “it is to compete to play, to compete to stay”. Now he has the chance to bring in his own players, albeit under very unusual circumstances. Most Michigan State commits have never visited campus or met the coaches in person.
It will be interesting to hear what Tucker thinks about how the recruiting process went with individual players and his assessment of them. These are the future pieces of the program and Wednesday will be his first opportunity to talk about them.
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