MSU mailbag: Sizing up bowl foes, recruiting targets
With the football regular season wrapped up, the focus turns to where Michigan State will be playing in a bowl game and who it might play.
There are several intriguing matchups, while odds are it will be somewhere warm (think Florida). There’s also some interest on next year. There will be an additional assistant next year and, of course, recruiting will start heating up with the early signing period.
Add in some exciting times for basketball and it’s a full Michigan State mailbag this week.
■ Question: Between the 3 opponents speculated for the bowl game (LSU, South Carolina and Mississippi State), who would be the best/worst matchup? — @RobertJMorelli
■ Answer: I think all of them would be interesting matchups, and can’t imagine not being intrigued by any of them. You’d have to think Mississippi State would come in reeling just a bit. As if the injury to quarterback Nick Fitzgerald in the Egg Bowl matchup with Ole Miss wasn’t enough, the Bulldogs happened to have lost their head coach after Dan Mullen took the Florida job. LSU would be a favorable matchup, as the Tigers’ offense is fairly one-dimensional, making South Carolina the toughest, in my opinion. The Gamecocks hung tough with Georgia a few weeks ago, and were in it with Clemson until the second half.
■ Q. Do you know of or expect any outgoing transfers? — @NathanBrooke
■ A. At this point, there is nothing official, but just judging from history you’d have to expect some players to move on; that’s just the nature of college football. Offensive linemen Nick Padla, Casey Schreiner and Jeremy Schram all have a year of eligibility remaining, but have decided to move on at the end of the season, but that’s not the sort of transfer we’re talking about. It’s always easy to speculate this time of year. Take a look at who hasn’t played that many expected might at this point, and you can come up with a pretty good list. But we won’t do that here because there have been plenty of players I would have assumed would look for somewhere else to play and stuck it out, quarterback Damion Terry being at the top of that list. So yeah, there likely will be a transfer or two, but at this point, the focus is on playing in a bowl game, and I’d be surprised if we hear any news on transfers before that.
■ Q. Do you think MSU will hire anyone this offseason? — @Hayden10698
■ A. Considering all teams can hire a 10th assistant coach in January, yes, MSU will hire someone in the offseason. Who that might be and in what capacity remains to be seen, though @scalka74 wondered if Dan Enos might come back to East Lansing after Bret Bielema and his staff were let go at Arkansas. Enos, the former quarterbacks then running backs coach under Dantonio and Central Michigan head coach, was the offensive coordinator for the Razorbacks.
Could he end up back at MSU? I guess, but you’d have to think Enos would be angling for at least a coordinator spot wherever he lands and, to be frank, what role would he have with the Spartans? I’m sure the anti-Dave Warner crowd would say Enos should take over the offense, but that’s a pretty tired argument and, quite frankly, it’s not happening. They could create a role where he adds to the offensive game-planning and he always has been an effective recruiter, but I’m not sure I’d bet on it.
■ Q. How many football scholarships are still open for 2018 class? What are positions of need and who are top 2/3 targets? — @chuckgsparty
■ A. There are already 18 players committed to the class, and the Spartans probably have room for only a couple more, but the top target at this point has to be Detroit Cass Tech cornerback Kalon Gervin. He’s ranked the No. 3 prospect in the state by 247sports.com, and No. 1 in The Detroit News’ rankings, and is planning to announce his commitment on Saturday. He just took a visit to Oregon, but it seems like the Spartans have a good shot. Also, keep an eye on Muskegon quarterback La’Darius Jefferson. He was once committed to Central Florida but is mulling an offer from the Spartans, who likely would use him in a different role, perhaps at running back.
■ Q. What bowl game do you think we’re headed to? — @Kujatredmsu
■ A. It’s really down to three potential spots at this point — the Citrus Bowl in Orlando and the Outback Bowl in Tampa on Jan. 1, and the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 28. I’d have to say the best bet is one of the Florida bowls, something that could depend on what happens this weekend. A Wisconsin win likely leaves Ohio State and Penn State in New Year’s Six games, and assuming one isn’t in the Orange Bowl, that would likely put MSU in the Citrus Bowl. If Ohio State wins, it might bump Wisconsin down to the Orange Bowl, meaning the Citrus wouldn’t be an option and MSU would likely head to Tampa. However, there’s also the chance the Outback Bowl takes Michigan, something that would send Spartan fans over the edge, but remember, bowls don’t have to follow a pecking order based on final standings. In that case, it would be the Holiday Bowl.
■ Q. Watching two 7-footers play for Purdue right now, struggling to come up with the last seven footer we had. Was it Kevin Willis in the '80s? — @rognagel
■ A. Hmmmm. They’ve had some guys that were close to 7-foot, including Jaren Jackson Jr., who is 6-11. Deyonta Davis was also 6-11. But you know, it’s not like 7-footers grow on trees. You don’t just go out and get the one you like.