Michigan State Recruiting: 7 must-have National Signing Day additions

Nov 26, 2016; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio leads his team out of the tunnel prior to the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Michigan State 45-12. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 26, 2016; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio leads his team out of the tunnel prior to the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Michigan State 45-12. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State recruiting is gearing up for a hectic two weeks before National Signing Day and here are seven must-have targets.

The 2017 Michigan State football recruiting class is not quite complete, but the Spartans have two weeks to sort out the remaining open spots. There’s room for about 4-5 more targets and plenty of guys left on the board.

It’ll be interesting to see how hectic the recruiting cycle gets for Michigan State trying to fill those final spots with about 10-11 guys still left on the board, but there are a few who stand out above the rest.

National Signing Day is approaching (Feb. 1) and here are the seven remaining targets, and some honorable mentions, who I believe should be labeled “must-have” recruits for the 2017 class.

Honorable Mention

Koby Cumberlander, 3-star DE (Roswell, Ga.): Michigan State has been high on Cumberlander’s list for quite some time now and it wouldn’t be shocking to see the underrated defensive end commit soon. The Spartans were his ‘dream school’ as a child and he’s related to former Spartan basketball great Kevin Willis.

Willie Rodgers, 3-star DE (Saginaw, Mich.): Another underrated recruit who could be leaning green after a recent offer from the Spartans. Heck, he’s also related to a former Spartan basketball legend in Jason Richardson. Could that have any bearing on his decision? It very well might and he’d definitely be a fast riser on the depth chart.

Naytron Culpepper, 4-star DB (Miami, Fla.): I get the feeling that Naytron is headed to Maryland by National Signing Day and that’s the only reason he’s not on the actual list and instead an honorable mention. However, things could change, especially after his official visit this past weekend.

Mekhi Becton, 3-star OT (Highland Springs, Va.): Another kid who I’d be surprised if he signed with the Spartans is Mekhi Becton, which is why I can’t really label him as a ‘must-have’ but rather a cherry-on-top recruit. He may consider the Spartans even more after his Jan. 27 official visit, though.

Nov 26, 2016; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver R.J. Shelton (12) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Michigan State 45-12. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 26, 2016; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver R.J. Shelton (12) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Michigan State 45-12. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

7. Raheem Blackshear, 3-star WR (Warminster, Penn.)

One of a number of current commits elsewhere on this list is Raheem Blackshear, a three-star wide receiver and Temple pledge. Why are the Spartans recruiting him so furiously? Well, the staff is looking for a replacement for R.J. Shelton and Blackshear could be that guy.

Blackshear isn’t one of the biggest names out there and that’s probably because not much is known about the Temple pledge who has been off the market since July. He is a quick, elusive slot receiver who could fill an offensive weapon void that the Spartans desperately need.

Shelton was one of the most dynamic receivers in the Big Ten last season and came to Michigan State as a running back out of high school. Blackshear plays mostly receiver, but when he has the ball in his hands, he can make guys miss and has a knack for racking up yards after the catch.

Is he a “must-get” recruit for 2017? Probably not a dire need, but he would definitely fill a void that the coaching staff is trying to address. Heck, the Spartans even offered a three-star Oregon commit who has the same style of play as Blackshear just in case they miss on him.

The three-star is ranked the No. 1,736 prospect in the class as well as the 242nd-best receiver, according to 247Sports. Don’t let the rankings fool you, this kid will contribute wherever he goes.

Sep 2, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive end Demetrius Cooper (98) gestures to the sideline during the second half against the Furman Paladins at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 2, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive end Demetrius Cooper (98) gestures to the sideline during the second half against the Furman Paladins at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

6. Tyree Johnson, 3-star DE (Washington, D.C.)

Honestly, I didn’t give Michigan State much of a chance to land three-star Texas A&M defensive end commit Tyree Johnson before last weekend, but his visit to East Lansing seemed to have gone relatively well.

No, I’m not saying the Spartans flipped him, but the MSU commits on campus for their official visits started to get the hashtag “Johnson2MSU” trending which could be a good sign. The more current commits are in the ear of these wavering recruits, the better the chance is that they will flip.

Johnson would fill a need for the Spartans at defensive end and he has the ideal size to come in and compete right away. He stands about 6-foot-4 and weighs nearly 250 pounds, which is comparable to Demetrius Cooper who starts right now for the Spartans.

The three-star Aggie commit has strong hands at the point of attack and is patient, but somehow aggressive at the same time. He can chase down a ball-carrier running to the opposite sideline as well as wait for the play to develop on play-actions. He would be a major piece to the 2017 class puzzle and would add some depth at a thin position.

Tyree is ranked the No. 486 overall prospect and 30th-best weak-side defensive end in the class, according to 247Sports.

Sep 19, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; dMichigan State Spartans linebacker Andrew Dowell (5) celebrates fumble recovery during the 2nd half of a game at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 35-21. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 19, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; dMichigan State Spartans linebacker Andrew Dowell (5) celebrates fumble recovery during the 2nd half of a game at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 35-21. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

5. Jaquan Henderson, 3-star LB (Covington, Ga.)

There aren’t many guys left on the table that could have an immediate impact for the Spartans, but I will say that Jaquan Henderson is one of them. However, he’s not technically “on the market” right now as he’s committed to Tennessee.

The three-star Volunteers commit doesn’t seem all that solid to Tennessee, though. He’s been taking official visits for the past few weeks and even took one to East Lansing back in October and fell in love with the atmosphere. The word on the street following his trip was that Michigan State was a serious contender in his recruitment.

Luckily for him, the Spartans need linebackers. Michigan State just received a commitment from four-star outside linebacker Antjuan Simmons but he is one of two, maybe three, backers in the class. In fact, Darien Clemons was a running back at the prep level, but the staff is projecting him at linebacker and Connor Heyward is an “athlete” with a linebacker’s build.

Simmons is the only true linebacker in the class and Henderson could join him as the second and that could mean the staff will find more fitting positions for Heyward and Clemons. Or, that could mean more depth is on the way.

However, linebacker is one of the biggest needs on the team and Henderson would be a nice fit as an aggressive defender. He ranks as the No. 390 prospect in the 2017 class.

Sep 2, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive end Gabe Sherrod (89) celebrates with cornerback Vayante Copeland (13) after a defense stop during the second half against the Furman Paladins at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 2, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive end Gabe Sherrod (89) celebrates with cornerback Vayante Copeland (13) after a defense stop during the second half against the Furman Paladins at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

4. Robert Porcher IV, 3-star DE (Orlando, Fla.)

Although Robert Porcher IV isn’t pledged to another school, he did just de-commit from Nebraska on Dec. 12. From that point on, the Michigan State coaching staff was in his ear about getting to East Lansing for a visit and he did just that last weekend with his parents.

Porcher IV, the son of former Detroit Lion legend Robert Porcher, is taking an official visit to Virginia Tech this weekend before making a final decision and the Spartans are in a good spot with him. Having only two officials since his de-commitment, that might lead many to believe that he’s down to Michigan State and Virginia Tech.

Yes, he fills a need just like Tyree Johnson, Koby Cumberlander and Willie Rodgers, but when a program loses as much as Michigan State has on the defensive line over the past couple of years, it’s hard to make up for that depth. The Spartans could realistically add all four of those guys and it wouldn’t be heavily criticized.

The visit to Michigan State went well last weekend and Porcher IV admitted he watched the Spartans a little growing up since his dad played football in Detroit. His mother also took to Twitter to say the visit went great.

The former Nebraska commit is ranked the No. 555 prospect in the class and the 33rd-best weak-side defensive end, according to 247Sports.

Nov 14, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans cornerback Tyson Smith (15) and Michigan State Spartans cornerback Darian Hicks (2) celebrate defense stop during the 1st quarter of a game against the Maryland Terrapins at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 14, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans cornerback Tyson Smith (15) and Michigan State Spartans cornerback Darian Hicks (2) celebrate defense stop during the 1st quarter of a game against the Maryland Terrapins at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

3. Ameer Speed, 3-star CB (Jacksonville, Fla.)

The Spartans need a cornerback. Josiah Scott is currently the only player committed at the position in the 2017 class and Austin Andrews was the only 2016 cornerback pledge after missing out on both Lavert Hill and Ambry Thomas/Amir Riep.

Missing out on those first options definitely hurts, but Michigan State has a chance to make up for some of that with the addition of Ameer Speed. The three-star cornerback from Jacksonville is high on the recruiting board right now and the defensive backfield needs to be bolstered more than any position group on the team other than defensive line — and maybe offensive line.

Michigan State got a visit from the three-star cornerback with incredible size (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) back in October, but his recruitment has been busy in the past couple of weeks. In fact, he has taken visits to North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia Tech since the beginning of December, Nick Saban visited him on Wednesday and he’s still scheduled to visit Oregon and Georgia.

The Spartans may be a long-shot to land him, but he did include them in his list of top five schools when he released it last week.  He is ranked the No. 468 overall prospect and 43rd-best cornerback in the class.

Oct 29, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans running back LJ Scott (3) gestures to a defender during the first half of a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans running back LJ Scott (3) gestures to a defender during the first half of a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

2. Johnathan Lovett, 3-star ATH (Burlington, N.J.)

There were major rumblings out of East Lansing last weekend that Johnathan Lovett was a strong Michigan State lean and that he may commit soon. However, there has been no word just yet about where he plans to attend school in the fall, but the Spartans remain the leader in his recruitment at this point.

Michigan State has been going after Lovett since mid-December and you might be wondering why a team that’s deep at running back would need another, but the answer is clear.

First off, the Spartans missed out on a running back in the 2016 class after Abdul Adams de-committed and flipped to Oklahoma. Second, Madre London could transfer because of playing time, Gerald Holmes will be a senior and LJ Scott could very well head to the NFL after the 2017 season. And lastly, Weston Bridges (the only 2017 RB commit) is coming off major knee surgery.

Group those three situations together and you can see why the Spartans are in desperate need of another back in the 2017 class. If London transfers, Scott goes pro all while Holmes graduates, Michigan State could have just one running back in 2018 — Bridges.

Lovett could be an answer to some future depth issues in the backfield. The former Rutgers pledge is ranked No. 863 in the country and is listed as an athlete. His film is incredible.

Oct 8, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Donnie Corley (9) attempts to make a catch against Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Dayan Lake (5) during the 1st quarter of a game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 8, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Donnie Corley (9) attempts to make a catch against Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Dayan Lake (5) during the 1st quarter of a game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

1. Oliver Martin, 4-star WR (Iowa City, Iowa)

How good should Michigan State feel about Oliver Martin at this point? To be honest, no one really knows. The four-star wide receiver from Iowa City is one of the best remaining uncommitted prospects and he showed off in the Army All-American Game.

Must Read: MSU Recruiting: 10 ideal additions for National Signing Day

Michigan State has been eyeing him for the past year, or so, and the staff is hoping that last weekend’s visit put the Spartans over the top. However, he received an in-home visit from Michigan on Tuesday and is expected to hear from UCLA and Ohio State in the coming days. He is also rumored to be taking a visit to Florida this weekend.

This is one of the more intriguing recruitments in the 2017 class and it’s only going to get wilder as National Signing Day nears.

One thing going for the Spartans is the fact that Martin is good friends with their 2017 quarterback pledge, Rocky Lombardi. They go way back and developing a dynamic connection could be a selling point for the Spartans.

Could Lombardi sway the elite wide receiver to East Lansing? Notre Dame is the perceived favorite, but anything could happen at this point. He’s ranked the No. 47 prospect and seventh-best receiver in the 2017 class.

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