The Michigan State Spartans have predicated much of their success in the Mark Dantonio era on the running game. Having a work-horse in the backfield has been crucial to what the Spartans have wanted to do as they’ve grown into a Big Ten contender. While they lose Le’Veon Bell heading into the 2013 season, Dantonio and the Spartans may have locked up the next T.J. Duckett in four-star running back Gerald Owens.
Owens is a big-bodied, physical running back out of Westville, New Jersey. At 6-foot-2, 248-pounds, Owens is a bruiser that can be a handful to bring down in the open field. He’s rated as the No. 2 fullback in the 2014 class, but Michigan State has already stated they plan to keep Owens at running back, likely making him the next star back in the Spartans’ system.
Dantonio told Owens that the young back reminded him of Duckett, who turned a bruising running style at Michigan State into a first-round selection in the NFL Draft where he enjoyed a long career. Owens feels that the coaching staff can get him on the same career path while he’s at East Lansing and walked away from his one and only visit to the campus this spring ready to join the program.
Michigan State gave Owens an excellent reception when he was on campus and have done an great job cultivating a strong relationship with the running back during this whole process. That makes it unlikely that he will flip to another program later in the process. Owens was drawn to the run-heavy offensive philosophy of Michigan State, the academic support offered and the opportunity to play at the next level when he was done in college.
Owens capped off a strong week of recruiting for Michigan State, but he may turn out to be the most important piece of the 2014 recruiting class. After all, the Spartans can’t run their offense without a No. 1 back who can carry them to victory.