Handful of youngsters could contribute early for Michigan State

While Michigan State fans have focused a lot of attention on the runaway freight train that is coach Mark Dantonio's 2016 recruiting class, there is a whole season yet to play before any of those highly rated recruits will be suiting up in East Lansing. 

Dantonio's class of 2015 was also a top 20 effort nationally, and it could help the Spartans this fall in their quest to get back to the top of the Big Ten after they finished second in the inaugural season of the Big Ten East.

So who are the most likely early contributors? 

Spartan Digest identified a handful, led by four-star tailback L.J. Scott of Hubbard, Ohio. 

At No. 65 nationally, Scott is the highest-rated member of the class, though he could find earning carries this fall tough as there are several candidates to take over for the graduated Jeremy Langford and most of them got a chance to impressive the coaches during spring ball. 

Perhaps more likely to contribute early are a trio of defenders: linebacker Drake Martinez and cornerbacks Tyson Smith and Josh Butler. 

Like Scott, they play positions where starters have moved on, but the defenders could also get onto the field early as members of various special teams units. 

Of course, all this talk comes with a couple of caveats: SD points out Dantonio is often loathe to rush freshmen onto the field — he prefers to redshirt as many recruits as possible — and the years the coach has spent building up depth might mean there is not a great need for help from the freshmen. 

(H/T Spartan Digest)