Michigan State football closed several five-star official visits with the 2023 class and the momentum appears to be on Mel Tucker’s side.
Three years ago, I felt Michigan football was a dying program.
Marc D’Antonio has had disappointing successive seasons and just called his Pinstripe Bowl victory over Wake Forest a “program win” that was worrying. The coach, who won multiple Big Ten, Rose Bowl, and Cotton Bowl titles and made the College Football Playoff, appears satisfied with the 7-6 season with a Pinstripe Bowl victory.
Months later, D’Antonio retired after signing another recruiting class and left the program in a difficult spot: finding a suitable replacement after signing day with no commitments in the next term.
The sports division interviewed Mel Tucker who seemed to be the best option and said he would stay in Colorado instead and Luke Feikl felt like the top candidate all along. All indications were that he agreed to become the next Spartans coach, but decided to stay in Cincinnati. Michigan State got back with Tucker and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Competing fans uttered the terms “desperate” and “overpaying” to describe Michigan State’s deal with Tucker and laughed at the entire process as they felt the elite program was struggling to remain relevant.
Tucker quickly proved the doubters wrong in a 2-5 season followed by an 11-2 campaign and a Peach Bowl win in 2021.
Besides success on the ground, Tucker managed to get hired at a high level and it became even more impressive. D’Antonio liked to settle for the three-star prospects he could line up in all of the Big Ten more often, but this was happening less and less in his later years. On the other hand, Tucker has a golden touch. It’s recruiting four- and five-star leads and even landing one more category than MSU has had in three years.
The 2021 class was Tucker’s first and was done mostly on Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions and ranked 46th. The 2022 class was much better, ranking 23rd nationally, led by men like Katten Hauser, Alex van Someren, Dillon Tatum and Jeremy Bernard, Antonio Gates Jr., and Jaden Mangham.
Don’t look now, but the 2023 class is ranked in the top 20 and has barely started. It’s currently at number 16 and has six pledges – four out of four stars.
And now that official visit season approaches, Tucker is making visits with some of the best non-committal players in the country. In fact, he has a few Five Stars ready to take a trip to East Lansing in early June, something that never happened in the Dantonio era.
David Hicks has had an unofficial spring match and will return on June 3 as an official with fellow five-stars Vic Burley and Jayden Wayne. The three are five-star defensive linemen and Brandon Jordan and Marco Coleman clearly have an immediate impact on recruiting.
Besides these guys, Michigan State will host a number of four-star leads this weekend of June 3, and may headline the spring game for the most important weekend in school history.
Tucker has revived the show and appears to be on the cusp of reaching new heights.