The Michigan State Spartans have earned a reputation for their stout defense the past couple seasons, but in MSU’s first return trip to the Rose Bowl in 2013, a feared offensive attack also began to bloom.
As the season progressed, the nation began to discover that the Spartans’ offense, led by QB Connor Cook and RB Jeremy Langford, was much more than a group of game managers — they were game deciders. A strong line and rising group of young receivers gained confidence each week, successfully completing the balanced team MSU had been close to linking together in 2010 and 2011, when they put together consecutive 11-win seasons but fell just short of their Big 10 championship and BCS bowl dreams.
Now, with head coach Mark Dantonio building towards the future with his 2015 recruiting class, MSU seems to be benefiting from the 2013 offense’s rise to relevance. On Thursday, Dantonio received a verbal commitment from Ohio running back L.J. Scott, an ESPN300 member and four-star rated recruit who chose to play his college ball in East Lansing over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, West Virginia and the hometown Ohio State Buckeyes. While landing a four-star prospect, or even a highly-regarded running back prospect is not unusual for MSU, Scott’s addition means all three of MSU’s four star-rated 2015 players (according to ESPN) line up on offense: Scott, OT Kyonta Stallworth and QB Brian Lewerke. While it remains to be seen how the class ends up looking on signing day, the Spartans have not had a class with offensive players making up the top-three since 2009, when OT David Barrent and running backs Edwin Baker and Larry Caper led the way.
The 2015 class, which also features solid three-star players OT Noah Listerman and two-sport star RB Khari Willis, could be one for the ages with MSU eying consecutive conference championships and major bowl appearances. As it looks now, we may look back on it as the year the Spartans solidified an offense that could successfully navigate even the “No Fly Zone” year in and year out.