Allen Trieu, the Midwest recruiting analyst for 247Sports and a Detroit News contributor, breaks down Michigan State's 2020 recruiting class so far.
► Class in brief: This is a glass half-full or glass half-empty type of class for Michigan State. The half-empty side will point to a class that is not as high in the rankings as last year’s class as reason for concern. The half-full side will say that Michigan State under Mark Dantonio has been successful even without the benefit of top 15-20 national recruiting classes, and this class is again full of good high school players who will be developed into college players who play above their high school rating.
► Top recruit: Darius Snow from Carrollton (Texas) is from a Spartan family. He is the son of Spartan basketball great Eric Snow and nephew of former Butkus and Lombardi Award winner and NFL first-round draft pick Percy Snow. Darius is a safety with size (6-0, 215 pounds) and is great in the box. He covered well in a camp setting at Michigan State’s Spartan Elite Camp.
► Strength of the class: It was clear Michigan State wanted to add playmakers on offense in this class, and they succeeded. They have size in Gibraltar Carlson's Ian Stewart (6-3, 200 pounds), who fits the mold of a Felton Davis or Cody White as a big outside receiver. Ricky White out of Georgia had a fantastic senior season and has suddenness and speed. Terry Lockett, one of the more recent additions, is a skilled route runner and a good enough athlete to also have excelled on the basketball court. Speaking of basketball, Montorie Foster was a hooper who only returned to football as a senior and quickly earned Division I offers after consistently making highlight-reel plays.
► Best recruiting job: East Kentwood offensive lineman Dallas Fincher’s dad played at Michigan State and he is inside the state, but Fincher visited a lot of schools and had quite a few Big Ten offers. There was word that he held Iowa and Wisconsin in very high regard and not too long after that, he committed to Michigan State. What might seem like a lay-up from the outside was actually great work by the MSU staff to keep him from ending up at another Big Ten program.
► Sleeper: Per the 247Sports Composite, Hilton Head (S.C.) Island’s Cole DeMarzo is the third-lowest ranked player in the class, but his high school coaches rave about his physical gifts, toughness and work ethic. He has a 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame that is likely to have him at STAR linebacker, but he has experience at safety, and even cornerback.
► Early impact: Kenny Willekes leaves for the draft and there is not a ton of experience behind him. The Spartans signed Michael Fletcher and Adam Berghorst last year and Fletcher got his feet wet some, but Berghorst also lined up some at tight end. MSU did not have any glaring immediate needs to fill in the 2020 class, but if there is a place where a freshman might be able to help, it’s someone like Simeon Barrow, Kyle King, Avery Dunn, Jeff Pietrowski or Chris Mayfield. along the defensive front. Of that group, Barrow and King may be the most physically ready.
► Best story: Justin Stevens began playing football in Nova Scotia. He was a tall, lean defensive end and tight end at that point. They play under Canadian rules in Nova Scotia, so hoping to up his chances of being discovered by an American university, Stevens transferred to Clarkson Football North, a boarding school in Mississauga, Ontario. He left his family and dedicated himself to the game.
After recruiting came relatively slowly, he made another fateful decision to pack on weight and move to offensive tackle. He suffered another setback when a shoulder injury kept him from working out for several months. The summer before his senior year, Stevens attended several summer camps, including Michigan State and earned Mid-American Conference offers. He committed to Eastern Michigan.
However, he put together a strong senior year, truly his first full season as an offensive lineman, and was then offered by Syracuse, Indiana and Michigan State. Having already attended a game earlier in the year and the camp in East Lansing, Stevens was already very familiar with the Spartans. His dad flew over from Nova Scotia and they drove down to East Lansing for one more visit where he decided he would be a Spartan. Stevens still remembers being cut twice from his provincial team. He has returned to Nova Scotia where he will signed his LOI. After that, he will prepare to move to East Lansing and enroll mid-year.
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 detroitnews.com.