Michigan State signs 18 in ‘quality’ class

Michigan State’s recruiting class is relatively small.

Mark Dantonio insisted that’s not a bad thing.

”I don’t get too concerned about the size of the class as much

as the quality of the class,” Dantonio said after the Spartans

received 18 national letters of intent Wednesday. ”A lot of these

guys were targeted early on and have remained consistent throughout

the process.

”People tested the waters to see how firm they were in their

commitments, and they stayed firm.”

Michigan State is soft at some key positions because three

standouts are skipping their senior seasons for the NFL draft.

Running back Le’Veon Bell, tight end Dion Sims and defensive end

William Gholston left voids that became opportunities for others,

including some incoming prospects.

The class includes three running backs: Michigan’s Gerald

Holmes, Pennsylvania’s Delton Williams and Wisconsin’s R.J.

Shelton.

”It’s a position that can be played by a freshman,” Dantonio

said. ”I think all three of these guys physically are very

gifted.”

The only tight end signed was Dylan Chmura of Waukesha, Wis.

Chmura’s father, Mark, was a three-time Pro Bowl tight end for the

Green Bay Packers from 1993-99.

”There’s a need at that position, so he’s going to have

opportunities,” Dantonio said. ”He’s a confident young man, and

he has a great background, with what he’s been exposed to at the

high school level or the fact that his father played that position

at high level.”

Chicago’s Demetrius Cooper seems to have the best shot to play

as a freshman at defensive end.

Michigan State kicker Dan Conroy was a third-year starter last

season as a senior, creating an opportunity next season for high

touted Michael Geiger from Ohio.

”He’ll be a guy that’ll compete for the position right off the

bat,” Dantonio said.

The Spartans don’t have glaring needs at linebacker, but that’s

the position of perhaps their top two recruits – Ohio’s Shane Jones

and Michigan’s Jon Reschke – and Dantonio said he’ll continue to

put the best players on the field.

Damion Terry might test that policy next fall.

The three-year starting quarterback for Cathedral Preparatory

School in Erie, Pa., where Williams was a teammate, could be

talented enough as a thrower and runner to compete with returning

starter Andrew Maxwell.

”Damion has the physical skills to play at this level – right

now,” Dantonio said. ”Now, the rest of it is up to him and our

coaching staff, and obviously he has to fit the situation. A lot of

this is timing and opportunity.”

Michigan State didn’t have much of a chance to sign a large

class. Dantonio said he lost just nine players who were seniors,

and that may have played a part in recruiting analysts ranking the

group in the middle of pack among Big Ten schools.

”The bottom line is if you recruit 25 guys, you’ve lost a lot

of players,” Dantonio said. ”When you don’t lose as many players,

that’s a good thing when spring ball comes around.

”But I think this is a talented class, top to bottom.”

Dantonio was proud to say that none of the recruits wavered in

their commitments despite some schools, including some in the

Southeastern Conference, trying to lure them away.

”We’re going to invest in these guys,” he said. ”We’re going

to make their dreams come true.”

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