MSU plates plenty of prospects, including transfers, to build No. 18 2022 class
East Lansing — Mel Tucker and Michigan State swung for the fences on Wednesday, but when the first day of the early signing period ended, the Spartans had to be content taking a few shots up the gap and plenty of extra-base hits.
That baseball analogy might not soften the blow for some when it comes to missing out on a five-star offensive lineman like Michigan State did on Wednesday evening when Kiyaunta Goodwin stuck with his original commitment and said he’d sign with Kentucky instead of the Spartans. But it still added up to a recruiting class Michigan State hasn’t seen in some time.
Led by a group of five four-star prospects, including defensive lineman Alex VanSumeren of Essexville-Garber, Tucker landed a 2022 class that included 22 high school prospects and ranked No. 17 overall at Rivals.com while it checked in at No. 21 in the composite rankings at 247Sports.
Add in four transfers and the class moved up to No. 18 overall at 247Sports.
“This is a consensus top-20 class,” Tucker said as he unveiled his group just hours before Goodwin announced his decision. “This class is a national class featuring players from 11 different states including the transfers. It’s also important to recruit in-state and this class features six players from the state of Michigan.
“We’re very excited about this class.”
For subscribers: Breaking down Michigan State's 2022 football recruiting class
The beginning of the early signing period went just about as planned for Tucker and the Spartans. On Wednesday morning, they had 20 players committed and all 20 players signed. They also added a pair of players who had yet to commit — cornerback Caleb Coley of Warner Robins, Georgia, a one-time Vanderbilt commit, and defensive end Zion Young from Atlanta, who was once committed to West Virginia and chose Michigan State over Missouri.
Three transfers were already in the mix, as well, including former Wisconsin running back Jalen Berger as well as linebackers Jacoby Windmon (UNLV) and Aaron Brule (Mississippi State). The one surprise came when Tucker announced former Florida defensive end Khris Bogle had signed, as well.
Bogle was a top-75 recruit in the 2019 class and in three seasons with the Gators he had 69 tackles, 11.5 for a loss, and eight sacks in 35 games. This past season, Bogle played in 11 games, starting three at outside linebacker while recording 23 tackles, 3.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks.
“I recruited him while I was at the University of Georgia,” Tucker said. “He’s big, he's long, he's athletic. He brings the immediate pass rush capability that we need. He should have an immediate impact on our defense.”
The Spartans were certainly looking for impact players to help a defense that has been blistered through the air this season. In addition to defensive ends Young, James Schott and Chase Carter, Michigan State hit the secondary hard.
Coley is a cornerback, as is Ade Willie of Sarasota, Florida, who was ranked as a four-star prospect by ESPN. The Spartans also landed safeties Malcolm Jones and Malik Spencer, both three-stars, as well as four-star in-state prospects Dillon Tatum of West Bloomfield and Jaden Mangham of Birmingham Groves. Both can play multiple positions but will get their first crack at playing time in the secondary.
“I definitely can’t wait to get up there and prove myself and play against some of the best talent we’ve seen these past couple of years with Ohio State and with Michigan and all the other teams,” Mangham said at a signing day event in Texas. “I definitely can’t wait to go up there and prove to myself that I can play.”
Added Tucker: “He’s got great length and ball skills. He's a sideline-to-sideline guy and has excellent range.”
As for Tatum, Tucker said: “A very tough, physical, aggressive player. A versatile athlete, who can play both sides of the ball. Just a very, very explosive, super competitive.”
The other four-stars in Michigan State’s class include Dearborn Fordson wide receiver Antonio Gates Jr. and quarterback Katin Houser from Anaheim, California.
“He can take the top off the defense,” Tucker said of Gates, the son of All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates. “He's a very tough player. Very physical, he's very productive. He had 55 catches for 925 yards in his senior season. He's got great hands. He's fast and he's a polished route runner.”
Houser was a player the Spartans flipped from Boise State, and like most of the class, he had committed before the season just as his recruiting stock had started to rise.
“We evaluated him and had a very strong conviction that he was the type of player that we needed to have in our program,” Tucker said. “He will be a championship-caliber quarterback. He has the potential to be that at this level, and it's because all the things that we've seen him do.
“He has the ‘It’ factor and he has what it takes from a mental standpoint, the mental toughness. His approach, his mental disposition, his discipline, his drive, his determination, his competitive nature. He has all those intangibles that you need to play the quarterback position at a championship level.”
Seven of Michigan State’s incoming freshmen will enroll in January — tight end Jack Nickel, Houser, VanSumeren, Coley, Willie, Mangham and Tatum — as will all four transfers.
“It’s very beneficial for us on the coaching side of it,” Tucker said. “We get a chance to get eight weeks of strength and conditioning with them to lay a foundation for being in the best condition, and then we are able to get spring practice with them before we get into our summer program. That really helps develop our team more quickly.”
For subscribers: Wojo: Amid recruiting chaos, Michigan, Michigan State steady and strong
Of course, Wednesday was just the first day of the early signing period, and while it only lasts until Friday, there is another signing period in February where teams can add to their class.
Whether Michigan State adds to the list of 26 names remains to be seen. But with at least a couple of high school targets still on the radar and the transfer portal a moving target, it would be a safe bet to expect a few more names to be added before February.
“We will have to see,” Tucker said. “It’s fluid. I’m not sure about the exact number but we are looking to add a few more pieces at a couple more positions so we will have to see who becomes available.”