Michigan State sees Randle’s star on the rise

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Mark Dantonio doesn’t care what the recruiting rankings say. He never really has.

It’s hard to argue with the Michigan State coach considering the record he has compiled with the help of player after player who didn’t earn as many stars as so many others that were recruited before them.

But even coming off his best recruiting class in his 10 years at Michigan State, Dantonio still goes after players who fit the system — players who he believes are worthy of a higher ranking.

The standout in the 2016 group that signed Wednesday might be Battle Creek Central linebacker Brandon Randle.

He was a three-star by nearly every service entering his senior year and held only a handful of Power Five offers, including one from Michigan State, the school he committed to last June. But he had a breakout final season at Central, recording 79 tackles and returning a pair of fumbles for touchdowns.

By the end of the season he was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Game and both Scout.com and 247sports bumped him up to a four-star

That is still too low, Dantonio says.

“I think certainly when you watch the film I can just tell you certain guys, they may or may not have stars under their name,” Dantonio said. “I’m not even sure how many stars Brandon Randle has, for instance. But I can tell you Brandon Randle probably is a five-star player in my mind. He’s an outstanding football player.”

Ultimately, that’s all that matters at Michigan State. The stars keep rising each signing day while the wins and championships keep coming.

And much of that is due to recruiting players like Randle, a 6-foot-2, 215-pounder who played all over the field for Central.

“He was one of the guys that we really saw throughout the process of recruiting and recognized as being a guy that’s outstanding athlete and can play at an extremely high level,” Dantonio said. “(He has) size 17 shoes, basketball player, track athlete, high hurdler … long jumper, those type of things. At 225 pounds he’s going to be an outstanding player for us.

“Brandon plays defensive end, linebacker, wide receiver, tailback punt returner, kick returner, and he’s a big athletic guy that can really run and get off blocks. So we are extremely excited about his development and what he’ll be able to do as we move forward.”

Offensive line coach Mark Staten saw all of those attributes early on as Randle’s primary recruiter.

“There’s a want-to in him,” Staten said. “He’s very athletic, is real long and plays all over the place. He’s gonna get underneath your chin and knock you out.”

Randle expects to continue that sort of play for the Spartans, the school he’d always imagined he’d play.

“I have always liked Michigan State and I am really excited today because it’s a great day to become a Spartan,” Randle told the Battle Creek Enquirer on Wednesday. “This is everything I dreamed of, the way the recruiting process went, going to a big university, signing day being what it has been today. It’s all been a great experience.”

Dantonio, who joked on Wednesday he’d begin his own recruiting service when he retires, doesn’t ultimately know where Randle or any of his other player should be ranked. But like everyone else who has come through the program, Randle’s performance will be judged once he’s on the field for the Spartans.

“The bottom line is at the end of the day do these guys make it through and play for you four and five years down the road?” Dantonio said. “Do they win championships, do they get drafted, are they playing in the NFL, do they have their degree, all those type of things? And that’s what we’re recruiting for.”