Mark Dantonio Has Best Year of Recruiting at Michigan State, Team Becoming Elite

By Connor Muldowney

Playing football for the Michigan State Spartans is no longer a consolation for not being recruited by the Michigan Wolverines, Ohio State Buckeyes and Wisconsin Badgers. No, playing for the Spartans these days is a privilege under head coach Mark Dantonio who is entering his eighth season with the school.

Dantonio has built the formerly-struggling program in East Lansing, Mich., into one of the Big Ten‘s elite programs in recent years. In fact, Michigan State is 38-18 in conference play since he has taken over in 2007 and 64-29 overall.

Not many people had much faith in the Spartan program prior to Dantonio’s reign, but he has brought Michigan State from the cellar to the top of the conference.

With a Rose Bowl under his belt, Dantonio went into the 2014 National Signing Day with more confidence than ever before — and it showed. The Spartans already had most of the class locked up, but five-star DE Malik McDowell from Southfield, Mich., had yet to decided and it looked like the Spartans could land him as of Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning — and they did.

McDowell was a big commitment for the Spartans, but the flipping of four-star DT Craig Evans from the Badgers to the Spartans has to feel pretty sweet for a team who used to have players de-commit from its program.

With the third five-star in the history of the program under its belt, the Spartans had momentum and grabbed another four-star recruit by the name of T.J. Harrell from Tampa, Fla. Yes, Dantonio went on a signing spree, locking up commitments from six four-stars, one five-star and 13 three-stars — by far his most successful recruiting season as a head coach.

Finishing the day ranked No. 21 in the Rivals team recruiting rankings, the Spartans have shown that the Big Ten title and Rose Bowl victory won’t be the end of Michigan State’s reign near the top of the conference.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at

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