East Lansing — When a team has a bunch of commitments by late spring, it’s often categorized as a great start to recruiting.
If a team happens to have only a few players pledged, it is sometimes portrayed as the coaching staff being selective in its offers. That would be the optimistic view. The cynic might say that recruiting isn’t going well.
Where Michigan State falls is open to interpretation, but as May has begun and the coaching staff is on the road, the Spartans have just three commitments for the 2020 class.
It’s varied for coach Mark Dantonio in his time at Michigan State. Some seasons like in 2016, the Spartans had gained commitments from more than half of their class by the end of May and secured eight commitments in that same time frame a year later.
There were six commitments in that same stretch in 2018 and last year’s class had just two.
So, for a program like Michigan State that likes to get players on campus and have them go through camp before they extend offers, it can vary greatly from year to year. The reality to that approach can be difficult in this day and age.
“For them it’s been a balancing act of a philosophy which has always been wait a little longer and try to get guys in camp,” said Allen Trieu, who handles Midwest recruiting for 247Sports and contributes to the Big Ten Network. “With how fast recruiting moves now a lot of these guys are gonna try and commit before the summer and you’re seeing some guys come off the board now.
“It’s hard for the schools that want to wait and evaluate, but it’s worked for them so often that I think that still the goal.”
The three players Michigan State has landed are solid players, including safety Darius Snow of Carrollton, Texas. The son of former Michigan State basketball star Eric Snow is a four-star safety that committed in mid-April.
He joins offensive lineman Dallas Fincher of East Kentwood and tight end Tommy Guajardo of Dearborn, both rated as three stars by 247Sports.
The Spartans will host plenty of prospects at camp in June and the coaching staff will participate in several satellite camps. However, they have their eyes on a handful of prospects that would be described as priorities.
“Earnest Sanders from Flint now becomes one of the top guys on the board as far as he just got an offer,” Trieu said of the three-star wide receiver from Flint Beecher. “Him being a Flint guy and the fact I think he really likes Michigan State, that’s kind of the guy I’m watching closely to see what happens with him over the next couple of weeks and months.
“I think Michigan State has the best chance to close things out with him in the near future.”
The Spartans also recently offered quarterback Michael Alaimo, a four-star quarterback from Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional, who has received several Crystal Ball predictions for Michigan State.
Alaimo (6-foot-5, 225 pounds) is a pro-style quarterback at one of the top high schools in his home state, and has a background in multiple sports.
“He’s very athletic,” 247Sports’ Jersey-based analyst Brian Dohn said. “He is a great basketball player and was a tremendous baseball player but gave that up to concentrate more on football. But he can walk onto any football field, diamond or court and be the best athlete.”
Michigan State is up against Boston College, California and Rutgers, among other schools, for Alaimo.
“That is a position that I think Michigan State needs to get a good one in this class,” Trieu said. “They haven’t offered a ton of guys at the position, so he’s one now that the eggs are kinda in that basket. He’s a true kind of drop-back. He has a similar kind of stature to a Theo Day or Connor Cook when they were coming out.”
Other players on Michigan State's radar are wide receiver Ricky White of Marietta, Ga.; defensive lineman Justin Wodtly from Cleveland; tight end Luke Lachey of Columbus, Ohio; defensive back Carrington Valentine from Cincinnati; and defensive end Jeff Pietrowski of Lakewood, Ohio.
“It wouldn’t be a huge shock if all those guys ended up in the class,” Trieu said.
There are at least a couple of highly sought-after players the Spartans are making a pitch for, too, including Oak Park athlete Enzo Jennings and Muskegon athlete Cameron Martinez.
“They’re gonna have a shot,” Trieu said, “but I would not call them the favorite for either of those guys.”
Michigan State 2020 commitments
►Darius Snow, DB, Carrollton, Texas (four stars)
►Tommy Guajardo, TE, Dearborn (three stars)
►Dallas Fincher, OL, East Kentwood (three stars)