Trieu: Spartans make big splash with 2020 recruiting targets

By Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News
Mark Dantonio holds up an Ian Stewart jersey for a graphic that was sent to the class of 2020 prospect.

On Sept. 1, college football coaches could begin having extended correspondence with players in the 2020 class. Michigan State was particularly aggressive, sending out graphics to more than 700 junior recruits nationwide.

Many of those recruits received theirs as soon as the clock struck midnight. Some of the recruits, because of late games and weather delays, were just getting home from their own high school games.

“September 1st was big,” said Flint Carman Ainsworth quarterback Dustin Fletcher, the younger brother of 2019 Spartan commit Michael Fletcher. “I heard from many schools as soon as midnight hit.”

“It was crazy,” Gibraltar Carlson wide receiver Ian Stewart said. “I was receiving texts from everywhere, even schools I haven’t talked to up until that point.”

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Devell Washington, another in-state wide receiver, who, like Stewart, holds a Spartan offer, also heard from many programs.

“It was kind of crazy,” the Bay City Central product said, “but fun at the same time. Most of all I’m humbled that schools reached out to me.”

The process begins in the field.

In some cases, these recruits have been tracked by Michigan State for several years. In some cases, they may be players who impressed the coaches at camp in June, or were discovered by the staff during the allotted evaluation periods.

From there, a creative team along with the coaching staff and recruiting staff, work on ideas for a campaign and the accompanying graphics. “Welcome to Spar2y0n” is this year’s slogan.

The lead graphic designer for the football team is Joe Robbins. Robbins is a Petoskey native who played four seasons at Grand Valley State as a wide receiver before interning with the Spartans and eventually moving into his current position. Robbins, along with a team of designers, produces the graphics that end up in the inboxes on the recruits and ultimately, many of them share the photos on social media.

This round of designs feature head coach Mark Dantonio holding a Michigan State jersey with each recruit’s last name on the back and the No. 20 for the class of 2020.

“With the graphics, it shows that someone has some interest to take the time to do that,” Fletcher said.

Stewart and Washington also acknowledged that it means something to them that staffs take the time to send the edits, but also noted that ultimately, their college decisions will not be influenced by them.

“The edits and graphics are cool, but it really doesn’t factor a lot when it comes to recruiting,” Washington said.

“I think they’re cool but they won’t play a big factor because that won’t determine if the school is the right fit for me,” Stewart said.

Regardless of whether the graphics result in recruitment, their importance in recruiting is clear. They communicate messages with recruits, they get shared on social media to make the program more visible, and certainly create excitement around a program’s recruiting efforts.

In Michigan State’s case, with the number of Sept. 1 edits that went out, it is clear the Spartans looked to make an immediate splash with the 2020 class.

More information

Dustin Fletcher profile 

Ian Stewart profile 

Devell Washington profile 

Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at