Head coach Mark Dantonio says he "didn't have to play a lot of games with" Michigan State's new recruiting class. Dale Young, The Detroit News
East Lansing — As the fax machines started humming on Wednesday morning, Michigan State was expecting to get 19 signed national letters of intent from players that had committed to become members of the 2019 recruiting class.
By the time the day was done, the Spartans had 18 — losing one player who changed his mind at the last minute, flipping another to East Lansing and waiting on one more.
The one the Spartans were still waiting on belonged to Alante Brown of Chicago Simeon. A four-star athlete according to 247Sports, the high school quarterback who committed to Michigan State as a wide receiver said he was still planning on becoming a Spartan, but would be signing his letter of intent in the traditional signing period that begins Feb. 6.
Reached by The News, Brown said he is “100 percent committed” to Michigan State, and confirmed he planned to sign in February.
While Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio can’t talk specifically about players who haven’t signed, he did indicate the Spartans would continue to recruit players over the next couple of months, something they did last year.
It landed them wide receiver Jalen Nailor, who played as a true freshman, and defensive tackle Dashaun Mallory.
“The majority of our class has been signed probably, but we'll probably continue to recruit to finish it out, much like we did last year,” Dantonio said. “We signed Jalen Nailor and Dashaun Mallory late last year. You see what kind of player Jalen turned out to be.”
While Michigan State still expects to get Brown, there was more shuffling in the class.
The big recruiting loss for the Spartans came late in the morning when three-star running back Aaron Young of Coatesville, Pa., signed with Rutgers where he joined his brother, Avery, a freshman defensive back for the Scarlet Knights.
“Well, I think people are going to flip,” Dantonio said when asked, in general, about late movement. “Don't ask me why, how, whatever. We don't force it on somebody. I'm not holding anybody's hand through it saying that you got to do this. People make decisions which are in their best interest. … I'm not here to say I'm right or wrong. It would be nice to have clarity at times, rather than get a text at 10.”
The Spartans were on the other end of the movement, as well, adding defensive lineman Maverick Hansen, who had been committed to Central Michigan.
A three-star from Farmington Hills Harrison, the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Hansen played both offensive and defensive line in high school and will play defense for Michigan State.
“He was a guy that throughout the entire process, we just kept saying should we take him, should we not, what should we do here?” Dantonio said. “There's nothing that's perfect, but his work ethic, his measurables, the way he got off blocks, tracked people down, then you start watching him against some of the better players in this state, started saying, ‘Why not him?’ ”
Getting a head start
While the early signing period allows teams to lock in their classes earlier than in past seasons, it also makes the transition easier for players that will enroll early.
Seven members of the class plan to enroll in January, including offensive linemen Spencer Brown, Damon Kaylor, and Nick Samac, offensive/defensive lineman J.D. Duplain, running back Anthony Williams Jr., wide receiver Tre Mosley, and punter Jack Bouwmeester.
“We have seven players early, which is the most we've ever had really since we've been here,” Dantonio said. “I think that's I guess a coming trend, but that's the most we've ever had. It will be exciting and interesting to watch those guys as they make their way through winter workouts and spring practice their first year here.”
In terms of scholarship players to enroll early, it matches the most. The Spartans had eight players enroll early as part of the 2016 class, but long snapper Bradley Robinson was a preferred walk-on.
The Spartans were in the mix for a couple of other players who were contemplating a flip. However, defensive tackle Cavon Butler of Toledo Whitmer stuck with Kentucky while three-star athlete Jordan Huff of Madison, Ga., signed with Georgia Tech.
Keith Randolph, a defensive lineman from Belleville, Ill., chose Illinois over Michigan State after also adding a late offer from Florida State.
… Michigan State added two preferred walk-ons — long snapper Jude Pedrozo and kicker/punter Evan Morris.