When Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio plastered the “P4RB: Prepare For the Rose Bowl” slogan across the MSU football facilities back in 2011, there was much more embedded in the coach’s message than simply making it to a historic bowl game. Part of that preparation involved assuming a new mindset — one that has already rubbed off on recruits taking a look at playing their college ball on the banks of the Red Cedar.
Malik Henry, 247Sports’ top-rated dual-threat QB for the class of 2016, was on campus this past weekend for an unofficial visit — which isn’t necessarily shocking news considering the Spartans’ recent rise to the top of the college football hierarchy. It’s not all that surprising, either, that Henry liked what he saw at MSU. What should pique your interest, however, is the five-star gunslinger’s hometown: Thousand Oaks, Calif.
To put it quite simply, Michigan State does not land recruits from California — especially not top-rated players with offers from in-state powers like USC, California, UCLA, and a litany of programs that can recruit nationally. The Spartans have historically centered their efforts on the heart of the Midwest, hoping to gut out the best their backyard offers despite the neverending appeal of the more familiar local powers Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State.
While Henry’s interest does not mean MSU has already jumped into the grouping of programs that can recruit in any area of the country, it should be a scary prospect to the rest of the Big 10. Although it’s just one player, landing a recruit of Henry’s stature would be the equivalent of landing three to four players from California in the next five classes for MSU. Five-star QBs can alter a program’s future exponentially.
You might be saying, “The kid showed a bit of interest in MSU — so what? He’s just doing his due diligence or ruffling some feathers to gain some attention.” That could be true, of course. However, when a California QB makes a trip all the way out to the Midwest and declares, “I’d love to play here,” I’m a bit more inclined to believe him.
Especially when “here” isn’t Michigan or Notre Dame.