A look at MSU’s unprecedented Spring Game recruiting weekend

On Saturday, April 16th at 2PM, Michigan State Spartans is set to open the gates to the public for the 2022 Spring Game. Despite it not being a traditional game, the enthusiasm and energy towards the event is unwavering. The excitement isn’t just reflected through the fanbase, but also by looking at recruits around the nation. One glance at our VIP 2022 Spring Game Visitor List shows just how truly unprecedented this event is for the Michigan State program.

MSU head coach Mel Tucker knows about the significance of Saturday’s spring game in regards to his staff’s recruiting efforts. In turn, he wants fans to show up and create a lively atmosphere for his recruits, touching on how the recruits will compare that to other spring games that they’re attending. “It makes a difference, because recruiting, we’re competing for the players, we’re competing against other programs. In recruiting, the competition, a lot of it, is about comparison. So they’re gonna compare their experience here to the experiences they see other places, so we need to put our best foot forward.”

Last year, MSU had a lot of prospects visit for the 2021 spring game despite there being major obstacles. There was an attendance limit due to COVID, which forced every spectator to obtain tickets in order to attend, which was difficult due to the scarcity. And since the pandemic had also induced a recruiting dead period, the coaching staff couldn’t do anything to ensure that their recruits got those tickets. Still, MSU had about 15 scholarship targets attend the game and it was considered a very successful outcome.

That positive outcome last spring led to the mounting belief that this year’s game will be an even bigger spectacle, as those aforementioned obstacles are gone and the program is coming off of an 11-2 season that has generated massive excitement. Well, that belief is definitely coming to fruition.

MSU is set to host nearly 40 scholarship targets for this year’s spring game, with the talent level being significantly higher than last year’s game. The top three expected visitors for the game are 247Composite Five-Star prospects, in DE David HicksRB Rueben Owensand OT Francis Mauigoa† While them being five-stars is wildly impressive enough, them being from Florida (Mauigoa) and Texas (Hicks & Owens) begins to highlight the point that the geographic composition of entire visitors list is almost as impressive as the echelon of talent found on it.

Keep in mind, spring game visits are considered unofficial visits, meaning that a school’s staff cannot pay for the prospect’s travel, lodging, and food expenses like they can on official visits. So when you have players from across the country taking unofficial visits to Michigan State, that really underscores how the program’s nationwide profile is quickly rising. That might be the most important takeaway from this entire weekend, if you are trying to use it as a barometer to assess the trajectory of the program.

Plus, that impressive out-of-state theme also continues well past the five-star section of the visitors list. only one of the top 11 highest-ranked 2023 visitors hails from Michigan, while only two of the top 11 are from the Midwest at all (Depaepe and Thompson). That’s nine of the 11 best prospects coming from SEC country. That would be an impressive even for a traditional, long-time recruiting power, let alone a school that is just now gearing up to make noise during the Mel Tucker era.

Let’s look at some more numbers behind the entire visitors list (as of 11:00PM on Thursday):

  • 109 – # of “total stars” when added up
  • 41 – # or known visitors so far (only counting kids that hold FBS offers)
  • 16 – # of Five-Stars and Four-Stars in attendance
  • 12 – # of state represented (Texas, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, California, Tennessee, New Jersey, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, North Carolina, Alabama)
  • 5 – #of current commits that will be attending (which is all of them)

It is important to note that visitors lists often grow until the last minute. In-region kids have the ability to make plans at moment’s notice since they will be driving up to campus, while some out-of-region kids might get missed during our research phase just because it’s a very wide net to cast. As the game gets closer, those gaps are filled in and these numbers will only grow in the next couple days.

All in all, seeing the star-power in East Lansing this weekend can’t help but have fans wondering: If this is what the staff has cooking after just one winning season and prior to breaking ground on the new multi-million dollar Tom Izzo Football Building, how high is the ceiling for the program under Mel Tucker

While there is only one way to truly find out the answer to that question, one thing is still for sure. In order for Michigan State to win a national title in this era of college football, the Spartans will need to have unprecedented success on the recruiting trail. Well, this weekend’s visitors list definitely meets the description. If Mel Tucker, Saeed Khalif, and the staff can start landing these guys come official visits season, then this weekend might be looked back at as the true catalyst for a special era for Michigan State football.

To hear more about how Michigan State recruiting has gone the last month, as well as how big the Spring Game visitor list is, check out the latest episode of the SPARTAN SPOTLIGHT wherever you listen to podcasts. The Apple Podcasts stream is attached below.

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