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February 03, 2010

Dantonio on each recruit

Here's what Mark Dantonio had to say earlier today about the 21 players who signed with MSU:

     "An outstanding quarterback. Our third really elite 11 quarterback that has come into this program, and I think that's significant, when you look at Kirk Cousins as a quarterback, I think he was an elite 22, as I remember.
    Outstanding prospect. Good size. Good athletic ability. Maneuvers very well. Strong arm. Saw him play as a junior when Coach Warner went over as a junior and watched him. And originally committed to BC but had some second thoughts maybe as far as being away from home. You can ask him a little bit about that.
    But his grandfather spent eight seasons here as an assistant coach for Duffy, and I think that makes him a legacy here. We're so happy he's a Spartan with us.
    But powerful, powerful arm. You can read all about it in all the different things that he's been able to do. But with he and Maxwell, as they come into -- with Andrew being a redshirt freshman next year and Joe being a true freshman, I believe those two guys are quarterbacks of the future for us and the future looks very, very bright for us on their arrival here at Michigan State. So we're very, very excited to have him."

    "Max Bullough, another young man who is a legacy here, having his grandfather played here. His father played here. His uncle played here. And I expect nothing less than to set the all-time record in tackles here because that's what all the other ones do.
    It will be exciting for him to continue that trend. But from St. Francis up in Traverse City. And very, very physical linebacker, runs really well. Excellent student. Excellent student of the game. Watched him work out yesterday in winter workouts for the first time. Carried himself like a junior or senior in the way he attacked things.
    He does the same thing in the weight room. Big, physical. Goes about 235 right now. Probably 6-3 or so. Outstanding skills and catches the ball very well. And we look for big things from Max here in the next year and the next four years beyond that and should be a great football player here at Michigan State.
    And obviously both these guys have many, many opportunities to go other places and we're thrilled that he's here. He's a four-star recruit as -- I don't know how they rate these stars, but I'll just say what they rated them as. But Max and Joe both are four-star recruits in the entire country. So we're extremely happy to have him here. State championship. So he brings that type of attitude to this program."

    "Five-star player. The only five-star player in the Big Ten Conference this year. And as I said earlier, William showed a tremendous amount of, I think, discipline and maturity in terms of how he reacted to the entire recruiting process.
    "He's been on campus many, many times since his junior year dating back I think to the Eastern Michigan game when I first saw him walk in as a junior into our new building. I remember it vividly, sitting down there and him walking up and talking to my wife and I early in the recruiting season.
William made the decision, as did Max, last summer, and both these guys continued to be recruited, especially William, and showed a certain amount of maturity by being able to hang in there and stay a Spartan throughout the entire process.
    "And a lot of you guys have probably talked to him throughout the process. He's very energetic. I think he has good leadership skills. Very personable. Big, huge linebacker for us, can play a multitude of positions much like Julian Peterson could.
    "That's what we talked about, playing a linebacker like Julian did where he would enter the DPR, designated pass rusher, type situation on third downs, but would play linebacker on first and second downs.
    "Outstanding football player. And we look for big things from him really immediately because of the maturity he's shown through the recruiting process. I think it gives you a tangible to point to and say that he can be special.
    "So we're very, very excited about William being here and he's one of the, I guess, true cornerstones of this class."

    "Niko Palazeti, fullback. Sometimes when you get down to the end and you start looking at people and you're trying to fill out your class and you're trying to say, okay, what else do we need? What other position do we need? You start looking very hard at particular people.
    "Niko is a fullback. He's an outstanding defensive player as well, played around the football at defensive end, played a little bit three technique, would be a little bit undersized at three technique for us, but benches 400 pounds, squats 500 pounds.
    "When you look at Catholic Central and what they were able to do this year and really last year, you see a guy that they've sort of put it on his shoulders and he carried them to a state title.
When you continue to watch him -- and I had all of our coaches watching him these last couple of days, you saw a young man that gives great effort. Great toughness, great ball skills. Has great vision in the hole. Great feet. And we've moved guys to fullback since coming here, we've taken guys and moved them to that fullback position. I felt like given this opportunity we would recruit a fullback.
    "Coach Mack had great things to say about him. Coach Mack at Catholic Central has never once said to me this is the guy that you need to take, and with Niko he's said that. And I'm very, very happy that he's a Spartan and that he's a part of this program and he'll do great things for us.
    "Incidentally, as we go through this you'll see hopefully on your thing who recruited these guys, and you can sort of talk with them specifically about them. Although, we recruit as a staff."

    "Mike Sadler, one of the top three punters probably in the nation this year. Had various opportunities, whether it be LSU, Alabama, you name it, he had that opportunity to go on scholarship at those places. Made the decision in the summer to become a Spartan.
    "I thought he came over -- came and participated in camp and had six or seven coaches watching him specifically punt, kick, and showed great ability to handle pressure, which is what he's going to have to do out in Spartan Stadium and did very well.
    "Great get-off times. When you look at a punter, you have to look at how fast does he get the ball off as much as anything. And the snaps have to come from hand to foot. Great get-off time. Two-step punter, very difficult to block. Great hang time. And he's a left-footed punter, which makes it a little more difficult possibly, because the ball will turn a different way, spin a different way for returners to handle that.
    "But I think that he solidifies our future. There will be competition obviously (indiscernible) currently our No. 2 punter, but I think in the long term Mike Sadler solidifies our punting game for the next five years with Aaron Bates coming back this year.
    "So excited about him. He'll also be a member of the Honors College. Mike, like some of our other past recruits, Kirk Cousins and others, really has not had a B in high school. He will come to Michigan State and walk in the door as a sophomore academically after all his AP classes, and we're extremely happy to have Mike here representing Michigan State, both in the classroom and on the football field. So he'll be an outstanding player for us."

    "Justin is the third linebacker in this class that fills out the big skilled area, and he's a linebacker out of Florida. Out of Western High School. Outstanding wrestler. I think he's lost once thus far in the season thus far. And I think he's possibly rated as the No. 2 wrestler 215-pound weight class.
    "But very serious-minded young man. Brings it every time. When you watch his film, he's going to bring it with a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of effort and toughness. And he's got power. So many of the guys we recruited I could sit up here, if I had to say one thing over and over, it's explosiveness. And he shows that again and again on film.
    "But explosiveness, power. Athletic ability. Those are the things we look at constantly. And Justin will be a tremendous football player for us here. Good ball skills. Plays tailback as well for them. So he's an outstanding athlete. High energy player and we look forward to great things from him."

     "Le'Veon Bell, who is with us here today. Enrolled in January. Le'Veon, you know, is from Groveport Madison High School, which is where Eric Smith is from. And I remember watching Eric as a recruiter and an assistant coach way back in 2000, and Eric was not a highly recruited guy.
    "But still playing for the Jets. To be able to call him up, Le'Veon, and say we've got a guy from Groveport Madison, made his day. They were getting ready to play in the championship game, and he took time and talked about you specifically.
    "So outstanding athlete. Can play a variety of positions for us. Gives us a tailback type player that's a big powerful guy, big skilled position, really, guy. Runs really well. Catches the ball extremely well.
Again, another young man who demonstrated toughness yesterday and has done a great job in the weight room as well. 222 pounds already, and as we get into him a little bit he'll probably go to 240 or so.
    "But he has the frame to carry that. And his principal at that time during his time there is a man who was the son of a high school coach that I played for back in Zanesville High School. I know he came up with the right kind of upbringing, I guess, because what I would say to Le'Veon right now: It's hard, but it's fair. And he's heard those words many, many times."

    "Darqueze Dennard from Twiggs County High School in Georgia. Outstanding athlete. Great ball judgment. Plays a variety of positions. Dave Warner was his recruiter. You've got to go way down there to see Darqueze. And two hours south of Atlanta. Comes here as a track and basketball player his sophomore and junior year.
    An outstanding football player. Played a variety of positions from wide receiver to running back to defensive corner to safety, punt returner, kick returner. And what you see when you watch him is a guy that has tremendous ball skills and acceleration after the catch, whether it's on defense or offense, and great balance. Tough. Tackles very well in space and he's going to be an exciting player to watch for us."

    "Kurtis Drummond, big safety out of Hubbard, Ohio. Reminds me a lot of Thomas Wright. Thomas was in today, incidentally, and will be graduating this spring. But Kurtis is an outstanding very fluid, big athlete. Plays whiteout and defensive back and safety. He'll play here as a safety. One of the top players in Ohio. Watched him play basketball very fluid on the basketball court. Quick jumper, great ball skills, great hitter, again another young man that will have an opportunity to step on the field very early in his career, and we look for great things from Kurtis Drummond."

    "Mylan Hicks from Renaissance High School. Young man who committed in the summer as well from Renaissance High School, which is where Chris Norman is from and Dana Dixon. But Mylan is a guy from day one, as a junior, when we saw him, we targeted, and offered him a scholarship I believe last year probably about now.
    "He accepted that scholarship sometime in the spring or the summer, and again another young man who I guess it was the summer who was very highly recruited. Another four-star player. And I might have missed on saying that about some other guys. But you've got all their stats.
    "But outstanding player, very tough, very competitive. Great ball skills. Was in camp here. Great acceleration. Ran 4-4, whatever in camp here. But great explosiveness. Jumped very well. Has all the attributes physically and intangibly to be an outstanding corner for us, and will look for an opportunity to play early in his career as well.
    And also played in The All-American Bowl down in Myrtle Beach. Outstanding player and comes from a great program and great family."

    "Nick Hill is here. Started school in January. Nick is -- don't let his size fool you -- extremely explosive. Came here and we put him through the -- in the summer I would say we put him through every test I think imaginable, huh, Nick? And I don't know how many pullups he can do, 40 or something of that nature. Very quick shuttle. Very explosive 40.
    "Outstanding kick returner, punt returner. Great deep ball judgment as a punt returner. Great vision. Great cutting ability. I'm not sure how many touchdowns he had. I'll have to look at it. But every time I watched a film he was scoring probably 80-plus touchdowns I think in his career. But an outstanding player.
    "And he is -- I believe he's a -- he's that special guy, I think, that can be that utility back that can do a lot of different things, whether it's kick returner or punt returner, catching the ball out of the backfield, running with the football.
    "So we look for great things from Nick as well, and again represented very well yesterday running as a guy who -- as guys who should be in their senior year of high school, competing all of a sudden with the other players, it was very, very impressive yesterday to watch them."

    "Jeremy Langford from John Glenn High School, which is in Detroit, a suburb of Detroit, it's Keshawn Martin's high school. A guy who could probably play every skill position that we have. Wide receiver, tailback. He probably could play safety, probably could play corner. He's a ten 700 meter guy, goes about 190 pounds, about six foot tall. Or a little bigger.
    "We'll play him at tailback/wide receiver. Coming into here I think he's got great offensive skills and great cutting ability and vision down the field. Very, very exciting player.
    "When you watch a highlight film that has 212 plays on it, you start to become impressed. So that would be the message out there to most people. Just a guy that really has come on. Rushed for over 2,000 yards but catches the ball fluidly. Another guy in our camp and stood out. Explosive."

    "Isaiah Lewis, another young man. Four-star recruit. Highly recruited in the process from Indianapolis, Ben Davis High School. Dick Dullaghan is a former coach there, was coaching at Purdue when I was there.
    "Dick Dullaghan was a past coach, sort of a legend there, and made the statement that Isaiah may be the best defensive back coming out of Ben Davis High School since he's been there. He's no longer coaching. This dates back into the '80s. And when a man like that makes that kind of statement. It's pretty impressive.
    "But great hitting ability. You saw his acceleration on the film. Great ball skills. A young man who committed also during the summer after a lengthy recruiting process, and we're extremely excited for him to be here and should have an opportunity to get on the field very, very quickly in his career.
    "That's the difference when you look at these guys, like I mentioned early on, you have an opportunity to get on the field because they're great football players but they start new now. They start their whole process over, and so it will be a challenge for the guys to come in and they'll have to overcome some hurdles. But they have the natural ability and the instincts to play at a high level and to play now.
    "And we'll look forward to seeing them compete for those positions. But Isaiah is much like that. If you watch him on the film. Gets off blocks very well.
    "I think the key to any defensive back, any of these guys you're talking about is deep ball judgment, ability to tackle in space and change the direction, and they all have it."

    "Tony Lippett, played quarterback this year. Came to camp two different times and saw him in a third camp. Has great wide receiver skills. Saw him as a track guy last year, Coach Enos did and Coach Treadwell. And we're very, very impressed with him. Accounted for over 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns this year, so extremely impressive. 3.9 student. Tremendous person. Again, he was an early commit for us and stayed the course.
    "And I think that's what's impressive about our guys, when they're able to stay the course and continue to stand by Michigan State through everything, through a loss or through something off the field or through a recruiter. It speaks about quality in terms of their personalities and their characters and their leadership skills, and we're very, very excited to have Tony here and he would be an outstanding target.
    "When you see him walk in the door and you see our other wide receiver walk in the door, Keith Mumphrey, you'll see immediate deep threats on both those guys because they can really run and they're big targets."

    "Keith Mumphrey from Vienna, Georgia, Dooly County High School. Another young man we targeted last year. Offered a scholarship early in the process. He came up on a visit to a game this year. Committed shortly thereafter.
    "An outstanding player. Big, athletic, physical. Plays on both sides of the ball. We'll play him at wide receiver here. Kick returner, punt returner. A guy that goes over 200 pounds right now and about 6-1 or so. So reminds you a lot of some of the outstanding receivers that have been here in the past.
We look for great things from him, and another great student, much like Keith, 3.8, 3.9 student. And will be an outstanding player for us. Looks to have an opportunity to get on the field early as well.
All these guys, when you watch them play, you see explosiveness, and that's what you have to have, I think, to play at this level."

    "When you look at the power area, which is the final area, you look at Taylor Calero. He's playing linebacker a little bit on the film. But came to camp played defensive end for us. Outstanding get-off. Great pass rusher. Tested extremely well. Verticaled very well. Ran very well. Gives the edge pass rusher, along with Marcus Rush, who I will talk about in a second.
    "But very, very intelligent player. Powerful. And when you watch him on camp and in camp film go against the offensive linemen, he's got that twitch that's hard to block. He plays at a high level, and we'll continue to do that now and will have an opportunity to get on the field.
    "All these guys, you see their size, they're all -- as you look at them now, they're getting bigger and bigger. Goes about 235 right now. And continues to work at it."

    "Michael has gained about 25 pounds since we recruited him. He weighs 275 now. Had 23 points, 18 rebounds last night. And as a young man who played tight end early in his career will make the transition to offensive tackle.
    "Played on defense, but a guy that's extremely athletic. Long arms. Probably be 290, 295 by the time he walks into the building here, and very, very impressive. Good student. And plays at Carey High School down in Ohio, in mid-Ohio, mid-northwest Ohio. A young man that will be a definite player for us at the offensive tackle position.
    "I think he has great feet. When you watch him practice basketball, the things he does on a basketball court as a big man for a guy that size going up and down the court are very, very impressive."

    "Travis Jackson from St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus, Ohio. Young man that took -- helped take his team to the state championship game in Ohio.
    "I'm originally from Ohio. And obviously I have a background there. I can't remember in my time an offensive or defensive lineman being rated in the top 3 of the Mr. Ohio voting that comes every year, which rates the top player in Ohio. He ranked No. 3 in that. He was named the Outstanding Defensive Player in the state of Ohio.
    "We will play him on the offensive side of the ball. He can play either side. But we'll look at him as a possible center guard. He moves very, very well. He's an outstanding student. Plays with a high motor. But a young man that I think that has great things ahead of him. Tremendous football player. As you get around him, you find out he's a tremendous person as well. From an outstanding football program."

    "Next guy is Marcus Rush, another great student from Archbishop Moeller High School, which is Greg Jones' high school. Big play in that, much like Julian Peterson had. Just where there was a fumble, he's going to pick it up. Where there's a punt to be blocked, an interception to be had, he seems to be the guy making those plays. Great running ability. Plays with a high motor. Another guy weighs about 235, 238 right now, and they'll continue to get bigger.
    "But has snapped. Another guy very highly recruited by a lot of people throughout the Big Ten Conference and throughout the Midwestern country. We're excited to have him as part of our program. Moeller High School, plays as competitive a conference as there is in high school football in this country. And to see him doing things week in and week out at that level is a huge statement.
He was the Tri-County Player of the Year which incorporates all of Cincinnati and all of the Kentucky-bordered high schools as well. Southwest -- I believe Southwest Defensive Player of the Year as well in the state of Ohio. So another outstanding player for us."

    "Skyler Schofner, another four-star player. Sunbury, Ohio. 276. Doesn't quite do him justice right now. He's about 305. He's benching, he told me, 225 29 times now as a high school senior. Very athletic. Played in two All-Star games. His stock was high already. We already offered him. But really rose very, very quickly after two All-Star games, one in South Carolina and one other one in Hawaii, where I think he was named maybe the top lineman out there.
    "But extremely competitive young man. Very explosive. Very athletic for his size. 6-6, 6-7, 305, should have an outstanding career here in all respects, and very excited about him coming to Michigan State University."

    "Rashad White, initially from Battle Creek. Took an opportunity to go over and see Coach Bess at Battle Creek High School this past week and Coach Slamer at Holt who had coached him earlier.
    "And Rashad played at Fort Scott. He'll be three for three, so he'll be a young man who comes in here with an opportunity to learn about Michigan State as well, plus growing up in the Michigan area, so he has an affinity for Michigan State already.
    "But a young man who is extremely powerful. I believe he dead lifts 625 pounds. I'm not even going to ask what he squats. But he benches over 400 (indiscernible) all the records up there in the state of Michigan, and I want to stop short of saying he won the power lifting contest, but he's very, very explosive.
    "Very, very athletic. Great feet. High school coaches talk about him constantly what great feet and what kind of athletic ability he has as a player, and we'll look for him to fill some immediate needs this year for us on our defensive line."



About the author

Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter

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