East Kentwood — Michigan State definitely has a leg up on the recruiting trail for East Kentwood junior offensive lineman Dallas Fincher.
Fincher, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound three-star guard, already has 20 offers, including Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State.
So, why would the Spartans have the upper hand on Fincher? Well, his father, Mark, was an offensive lineman for Michigan State back in the mid-'80s.
Fincher is learning his craft while playing alongside Wisconsin-bound tackle Logan Brown, and Brown wants nothing more than for Fincher to follow him to Madison, Wis., to play for the Badgers.
“I always grew up a Michigan State fan since my parents met there and my dad played there,” Fincher said. “Sure, they (Spartans) have an advantage because I’ve always watched them on TV. I like how much of a family they are. I like their will to win. They know how to win and I’ve just followed them for a long time.
“I went to Michigan State a couple of weeks ago, just to see one of their OTAs, like one of their pre-practice things. It was great to be with their coaches, know some of the recruits and just talk with the players.”
Fincher wants to show his potential his junior season, and has set lofty goals for himself.
“I want to average two pancakes, try and be more aggressive,” said Fincher, who will play right tackle this season. “I started last year but now know more of our offense, so I want to be more aggressive and more physical so we can get more wins and get in the playoffs.
“Logan has taught me a lot, mostly to not overthink things and not overset. When I played guard, it’s usually just trying to get my hands on as soon as I can, but at tackle I naturally overset.”
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Fincher, who played at 6-3, 260 last year, put on 20 pounds during the offseason. He is benching 280, up from 220 a year ago. He went to three camps this summer, including Michigan and Michigan State.
Fincher has the luxury of getting better every day in practice by going up against 6-3, 330-pound four-star defensive tackle Mazi Smith (Michigan) and 6-6, 230-pound junior defensive end Bryce Mostella.
“Of course, I’m going to see some great defensive linemen, but in terms of like moves, their hands, length, strength and size it’s like no other,” Fincher said of Smith and Mostella.
Mostella, a four-star recruit, has offers from Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, but where’s Auburn?
Mostella’s father, Marcellus, played linebacker at Auburn and Bryce has been a fan of the Tigers.
“My dream has always been to play college football since I was a little kid,” Mostella said. “I always watched college football and seeing the passion that there is for college football, it's a feeling nothing else in this world could match it. ... Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, Northwestern, Minnesota and Iowa have offered me, but Auburn has not. Neither has Michigan State.
“I like Coach (defensive line coach Greg) Mattison at Michigan. He’s a great mind and knows exactly what he’s doing, and I feel like he could really mold me into a great player.”
Mostella had 10 sacks last season and his goal is to get 16 this season.
“I’ve gotten stronger, made my footwork quicker and then going up against Logan and Dallas I see what I have to do, like throw up my hands faster," Mostella said. "That’s not easy at all to go up against them, but it maxes out my potential."
Smith feels he has things to prove in his senior year before heading to Ann Arbor.
“I want to show my character on the field, show who I am,” said Smith, who benches 425 pounds, up from 340 a year ago. He can now bench 225 pounds 22 times.
“I have a lot to prove this season, always have a lot to prove. There’s always pressure on me, but hopefully I’ll do well under the pressure I put on myself.
“I want to be out there, have a solid season and that’s very important since I’m starting my career at Michigan early (in January). I have to put in the work and there’s a lot of work I need to put in before I can do what I’m supposed to do at the next level.
“I’ve been trying to make sure I get my wind up and that’s been a problem for me my whole life, but I have to make sure I pay extra attention to it before this season and before I go to Michigan. I do extra work, like sprints outside of practice, before or after practice. Sometimes I run at home, just doing everything I can to get ready. I’m at 330, plan to get to 315 at the start of the season. I know they’ll get me down even further once I get to Michigan.”