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MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE

February 6, 2013
Richmond High School



Mark Dantonio

    MARK DANTONIO:  Very, very excited about our class this year.  As always, I think that a lot goes into signing a football class, a lot of investment, time from our coaches, and the various people within our organization here.  It's not really where you come in at.  I think that's the thing that we talk to our recruits about a lot.  It's not really where you come in at, it's where you finish. I remember the 2007 class came in, and seven guys are playing in the NFL right now from that class, and it was a class that probably wasn't thought of as highly maybe coming in.  It was their first year, but nevertheless made great progress, and a lot of guys in that class, B.J. Cunningham, Kirk Cousins and those guys, went on to win a lot of football games here and became really the winningest class in Michigan State history. Very excited about this.  I think they add great value.  The chemistry is very, very good.  None wavered throughout the entire process, and it was very easy this morning to just talk and get up to date with those guys as we have been throughout the recruiting process. I appreciate their trust.  I think whether it's the family or the individual recruit, but in this day and age with recruiting becoming so accelerated and so many different things going on, we appreciate their trust in us as people as we move through this process.  This goes both ways.  Certainly we appreciate what they have done and hopefully they will appreciate what we do in the years to come as we go forward. We're going to invest in these guys.  They're going to invest in us.  We're going to see their stock rise, and we're going to make their dreams come true, and I think that's all a part of this as we move forward. When you look at our class in particular, you've got five state champs, young men coming from state champions.  You have 11 guys who were first?team all?state in their respective states.  Again, Midwest and Florida is represented predominantly. We've recruited four defensive linemen.  The guys we recruited on the defensive line:  James Bodanis from Canada, sort of a late add, a guy that we got late in the process through word of mouth, but after watching the film and seeing him do the different things that he can do, we felt compelled to go up to Canada and recruit him.  He played in the college ranks for two years there and will have an opportunity to come down here and make an impact. Noah Jones is a guy that's sort of a come?on?lately guy.  At the beginning of the process he weighed 240 pounds, 6'3" plus, and at the end of it he was nearly 270 and had numerous BCS offers, and some of those from the Southeast Conference.  So we're excited about Noah, and he can play in the inside area or at the defensive end position, one of the two.  But I think he remind me a lot of Joel Heath in a lot of his athletic abilities and the things he can do as a player right now, so it's going to be interesting to watch his development. Devyn Salmon from the Tampa Bay area is another guy, same school as Denzel Drone, Plant City, and a physical presence on the inside, physical player, could be nose tackle, pre technique, and we're looking for big things from him as he moves forward.  Early commit, had his sights set on Michigan State even before he visited, and we took the commitment even before he did visit after watching him play personally at the high school level. When you look at Demetrius Cooper on defensive end from Chicago, very athletic guy, thin, missed a lot of his senior year due to an injury, but just really had a tremendous camp with the Sound Mind and Body Camp down in Detroit and really was unblocked in that camp.  Another guy that had numerous BCS offers as we went through the process.  Excited to have him. And that really rounds out our defensive line. The linebackers, Shane Jones and Jon Reschke, both all?state players, probably the top players in their states respectively, four?star players, very active, run extremely well, heady players, great football IQ on both of them, established programs at Brother Rice and Cincinnati Moeller.  Both these guys I think will be tremendous players for us and play at an early time in their careers, so we're very, very excited about those two athletes. Three defensive backs, Justin Williams from Treasure Coast, a guy that came down to a number of BCS schools, a couple in the Southeast Conference at the end of the recruiting process here.  10.5, 20.7, 200 meters, just a guy that can really run and very athletic, great ball skills, tough, will tackle you in space, plays all the different positions offensively or defensively in the skill area. Jalyn Powell, a guy that committed early in the process, cousin of C.L. Rucker.  His father played at Youngstown State, active player, played quarterback as a junior, a guy that can play defensive back, big hitter, tremendous junior film and then senior film that just went on and on and on, first?team all Ohio guy at Warren High School, which is another outstanding program why some of our guys have come from. Darian Hicks, tremendous athlete, 23?foot plus long jumper, offered him early in the process and a guy that I think could play wide receiver, defensive back, corner.  Was tremendous in camp, tremendous upside, another guy when you watch the film on him, he's a guy that you just put a star beside and walk up to the board and say we've got a great one there, and I think that he's a young man from Solon, Ohio, that again is from a great football program.  Jim McQuaid is an outstanding coach, and he'll do amazing things here, so we're looking forward to him. An athlete in the category sort of catchall guy is Delton Williams, can play our star backer which is out?of?the?box backer, he can be a safety for us.  He'll start at the running back/tailback position.  Reminds me a lot of Le'Veon Bell when Le'Veon was a senior in high school.  He's a punt returner, kick returner, catches the ball extremely well.  I think he had 59 catches or so this year, state champion team, 15?0, go?to guy, had about 700 yards rushing, 700 yards or so pass receiving, was the AAA Defensive Player of the Year in the state of Pennsylvania but a guy that can play a lot of positions, and I think he's a very, very special player in a lot of ways. The one kicker that we signed is also a punter, but he'll kick for us.  Michael Geiger is a No.1 rated kicker in Rivals and played in the Semper Fi All?Star Game and did a tremendous job in camp out here during the summer and really before I even knew he was the No.1 kicker in the country for Rivals, which I guess he proved himself in that capacity at a kicking camp, but just did an outstanding job here, was extremely consistent and made all the kicks.  And I think that he'll be a guy that'll compete for the position right off the bat.  Certainly he has to compete, but he's very level?headed, all?Ohio goalie, as well, safety, corner, those type of things.  So all?around athlete for us there. Our two running backs:  R.J. Shelton, a guy that committed last February, a guy that just felt like he belonged at Michigan State, one of the highest recruited players in the Midwest and particularly in the Wisconsin area and a guy that runs 10.68, about 195 pounds right now, and about six foot, plays basketball, football, runs track, does it all.  I think he had almost two miles' worth of?? two or three miles', I guess, I'm not sure how many miles, but he had a bunch of yards.  Just can catch the ball very effectively, but I think he'll have an opportunity to play early on based on our tailback situation with Bell leaving, and he'll certainly get the reps coming into the camp. The other tailback, Gerald Holmes, bruiser, great vision in the hole, great cut?back runner, runs with his pads low, runs with a purpose, and very excited about Gerald, had a tremendous senior year, was banged up his junior year and maybe didn't get as much notoriety his junior year, but as a sophomore, coming out of his sophomore year, we felt like he was special after having been in camp.  So he's a guy that we targeted all along.  Big, physical guy weighing about?? coming in here weighing about 215 to 218, same with Delton Williams, and gives us the big backs that we're going to need to play in this league. So excited about those three running backs as they come in. Dylan Chmura is the tight end.  Physical guy, big, physical, great hands.  Had a great camp for us last summer, offered him coming out of camp, and it was a talented camp in terms of the tight ends that were there.  But he can block very effectively, has power and great, great hands, and we'll look for him to add to our tight end position.  I think it's a position of need right now, so we have plans to get him involved very, very quickly. The one offensive lineman that we did sign with this class that's a little bit special situation because we took Jack Conklin last year and put him on scholarship mid?year, and Jack is a guy that's 6'6", 305 right now and has had a very productive fall camp for us, and look for great, great things from him. Dennis Finley, big, long, rangy guy, two?time state champion, runs very, very well, good student, very active.  Again, a guy that we saw in camp as a junior and is a guy that we targeted very early in the process, and I feel like he's one of the best offensive line offensive tackle prospects in the country.  Big things are going to happen for that young man.  He's going to be a huge person and very, very athletic and talented, and excited to have a guy from Cass Tech coming to Michigan State. Our two wide receivers, Trey Kilgore from Cincinnati Saint X.  If you know anything about Saint X, it's a school of 2000 boys, plays in the Greater Catholic League down in Cincinnati, state champion type program that is constantly up there, played quarterback as a junior, three?year starter at that school, played wide receiver predominantly as a senior, was hampered a little bit by a foot problem.  But had him in camp nevertheless, big body, skill player, jumps very effectively, catches the ball well in traffic, and a gamer, and I think he's going to do great things.  We watched him play as well as had him in camp. Jay Harris, our other wide receiver, is an exciting player from Downingtown, PA, being the big 33 game as well as Delton Williams and Damion Terry.  But exciting, versatile player, can play on the offensive or defensive side.  We'll play him at wide receiver right now, but he's got the toughness, a guy that if you can imagine this, can do 50 pull?ups.  So powerful, explosive, tough, and will bring an attitude to the game when he enters the game and can do a lot of different things. As you watch the film, we have quite a few guys who can return kicks and return punts and those type of things. The quarterback we brought in, Damion Terry, is a guy, a three?year starter for Erie Prep, led them to the state championship, he was the AAA Pennsylvania Player of the Year in PA there offensively, 50 touchdowns, a guy that ran the ball for 12 plus touchdowns, I believe, threw the ball for over 3600 yards this year.  But we had him in camp, and he can spin it.  Big guy, 6'4", 220 or so, so he's a guy that I think brings a certain amount of physicalness to the quarterback position.  He's going to give us four quarterbacks this year, and he's a guy that I think will be interesting to watch as the future rolls around. But I do think we've got great quarterbacks on this football team.  Obviously it's going to be how he picks up things as we go.  But he's going to have opportunity. And that's our class.  What I tried to talk to each and every one of them about today is that recruiting is about opportunity.  Today is about a new beginning.  It's about a new phase in these young people's lives and it's about the future.  And for some, it sort of signifies to me, it sort of signifies our New Year's.  The bowl games are over, there's new dreams ahead, there's new challenges ahead.  Winter workouts started this Monday at 5:30 a.m.  Anybody that wants to come into winter workouts at 5:30 at that time, Monday, Wednesday or Friday, you guys are welcome to come and take a look at that if you'd like.  Spring ball is right around the corner, and then here comes summer and there's the next season. So there's a lot of new things happening, but for right now, this is the exciting time of year.  It sort of ends of the 2012 recruiting class or the recruiting time, and we start for 2014 as we go at this point on. 


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