Welcome to the debut of Sean Merriman’s recruiting mailbag at freep.com. Sean is a recruiting aficionado who used to work for rivals.com and the Big Ten Network and now is with Intersport. Look for his mailbag every other week (with some live chats sprinkled in, too). If you have a recruiting question for Sean, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him @BTNSean.
Hi Sean! Personally, I think recruiting ranks and stars are overblown. Even being a Wolverine fan, I can acknowledge MSU as an example where they have had great success with 3 and 4 star athletes. In my opinion, it is much more important to get players that fit the team and philosophy of the coaches and the positions of need. Your thoughts? – JDDGoBlue
I agree with you, for the most part, @JDDGoBlue. When looking at the recent success of Michigan State’s football program, many of the Spartans’ standout players who have gone on to play in the NFL were two- and three-star players. Le’Veon Bell, Kirk Cousins, Trae Waynes and Jeremy Langford are NFL starters. Not one of them was a highly touted prospect coming out of high school. But as you said, Mark Dantonio and his staff viewed them as players who fit their system. However, take a look at some of the top-ranked Big Ten players in the 2016 recruiting class, and many of them already are making an impact as freshmen: Rashan Gary (five-star), Donnie Corley (four-star), Nick Bosa (five-star), Michael Jordan (four-star), etc. It goes both ways. But it’s hard not to be impressed with the job Dantonio and his staff have done at recruiting under-the-radar players.
Do you think Dylan McCaffery stays at QB once he arrives at UM, or is he an athlete who could play elsewhere for the Wolverines, like his brother at Stanford. It seems like UM, especially with Brandon Peters, is strong at the QB position already, and having either of those guys serve as a backup could be a waste of talent. – Dubyah
I agree with the fact that Michigan is loaded at the quarterback position. Wilton Speight will be a redshirt junior next season, while Peters likely will be a redshirt freshman. However, Dylan McCaffery is going to Michigan to play quarterback. If he didn’t think he was good enough to do so, I think he would have committed elsewhere. Now, could Harbaugh and his staff get creative and find a way to get him on the field? It’s possible. But my guess would be that Dylan McCaffery is Michigan’s starting quarterback in 2019.
What are Michigan’s chances with Nico Collins – david blue
Michigan remains the leader for four-star WR Nico Collins. In fact, he is expected to be on campus Saturday for the Wolverines’ game against Penn State (3:30 p.m., ABC). He already has taken two unofficial visits to Michigan, and all signs point to him eventually landing in Ann Arbor. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee, by any means. Collins is the top-ranked player in the state of Alabama and does have an offer from the Crimson Tide, so don’t think for a second that Nick Saban and Co. will give up easily on this kid. This is a recruiting battle that could come down to the wire, but ultimately, I see Collins playing his college ball in Ann Arbor.
Hey Sean—basketball question… who are MSU’s targets in the 2017 class, and where do they stand with consensus top 25 players like Gary Trent Jr. and Brian Bowen? – Sam
Tom Izzo already landed a megarecruit for the 2017 class in five-star PF Jaren Jackson Jr. Now the Spartans shift their focus toward other top-notch targets like Trent Jr. and Bowen, in addition to Xavier Tillman, Brandon McCoy and Nojel Eastern. All five of these players are Top 100 prospects, according to 247sports. Bowen, Tillman and Eastern all look like MSU leans, while Trent Jr.’s and McCoy’s recruitments appear to be more wide-open. Izzo recently visited both Trent Jr. and McCoy, and both came away impressed with the Spartans’ head coach. Tillman is expected to make his college announcement at the end of this month, and most believe he is going to pick MSU. Landing any three or four of these prospects would give the Spartans’ another top-five recruiting class.
Do you think playing all these freshmen will give Harbaugh a huge edge in recruiting? – MM
I don’t know if it gives Harbaugh an edge, but I know it doesn’t hurt. There are numerous factors that go into choosing a school, and early playing time is one of them. Others include facilities, proximity to home, comfort with current players and coaches, program history and NFL preparation. Harbaugh has been masterful as a recruiter so far at Michigan, so there really isn’t a ton of room to grow at this point. It’s about being consistent and landing top-10 national classes year after year. When recruits watch the Wolverines play and see guys like Rashan Gary, Chris Evans, Ben Bredeson and Devin Bush Jr. making an impact as true freshmen, that has to be attractive.
Why does MSU not compete with UM and OSU for recruits? They consistently have higher ranked recruiting classes. Sure MSU does a great job with underrated players, but how much better would they do with 4 and 5 star guys? – william
Actually, Michigan State does compete with Ohio State and Michigan for a good amount of recruits, and Mark Dantonio and Co. have won their fair share of recruiting battles against both. The Spartans beat out both Michigan and Ohio State for Donnie Corley and Justin Layne in 2016. They beat out Ohio State for LJ Scott and Michigan for Tyriq Thompson in 2015. Now, the Spartans are in a heated recruiting battle with both schools when it comes to five-star WR Donovan Peoples-Jones. Michigan State has a formula that works for its when it comes to evaluating recruits, and with the success this program has had as of late, why change it if it works?
How is the D-Line shaping up for MSU’s 2017 class? They lost a lot of talent through graduation, dismissals, and transfers this past year and I expect McDowell to head to the NFL next season – dave
The Spartans have three 2017 commits on the D-line: Jacub Panasiuk, Lashawn Paulino-Bell and Donovan Winter. All three players are three-star prospects, according to 247sports. Keep an eye on Deron Irving-Bey, a four-star DE prospect from Flint. Many believe that MSU is his leader right now, but the Spartans will have to hold off the likes of Michigan and Tennessee.