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Michigan State football bolsters OL with FCS All-American commitment

MSU got better on Saturday.

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Michigan State football
© Rick Cinclair/Telegram & Gazette / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State football got better on Saturday, adding Holy Cross offensive line transfer Luke Newman.

On Saturday, Luke Newman, an FCS All-American transfer from Holy Cross, announced his commitment to Michigan State football. Newman is a massive get for this offensive line, instantly upgrading the unit.

Newman joins Tanner Miller as a massive pickup by Jonathan Smith and offensive line coach Jim Michalczik.

Luke Newman adds experience and loads of skill to this group

Newman was originally a two-star player out of high school, being unranked by the 247Sports Composite and only the No. 253 offensive guard in the country by 247Sports in 2020. Despite being a captain who did not allow a sack for two seasons at Brother Rice (Mich.), he was overlooked. He took advantage of his offer from the Holy Cross Crusaders, spending his next few years in Massachusetts.

He bloomed with the Crusaders, being named a two-time All-Patriot League lineman, sophomore All-American, and (likely) two-time All-American at the FCS level. Following the 2023 season, he entered the transfer portal, looking for an FBS team to prove himself against higher levels of competition. This time, he was rated much higher by 247Sports. He was rated No. 525 in the portal rankings, and the No. 31 offensive tackle.

I believe that rating is a massive snub to Newman. The three-year left tackle starter only allowed one sack last season, grading out with a 92.5 PFF rating against the pass. That is good enough for second among tackles in the FCS last season. He was not too shabby against the run either, with his 83.0 grade being ranked No. 5. Overall, his 88.2 rating ranked him as the third-best tackle in the FCS in 2023. Maybe a bit better than the 31st-best tackle in the portal. If it is any comfort, Spencer Brown was rated as the No. 32 tackle by the 247Sports portal rankings. At least the oft-criticized former Spartan tackle did not rate higher.

Newman was recruited by quite a few schools during his month in the portal, with the Spartans being in contact since the beginning. Considering the struggles of the Spartan line in the last few years, this was an obvious pairing since the start.

Despite the draw of coming home, it was not a guarantee that Newman would be a Spartan for his final season. Early in the cycle, he was given a crystal ball projection to Vanderbilt. On Saturday, though, he made his homecoming official.

An offensive line outlook, along with a projection for where Newman slots in

Newman will be joining an offensive line that is very unproven. At 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, Newman is a tweener who can play the interior or tackle positions on the line. The Spartans lose interior offensive linemen Nick Samac and JD Duplain to graduation. They also lost Kevin Wigenton to Illinois. On the tackle front, the Spartans return Brandon Baldwin and Ethan Boyd but lose 20-game starter Spencer Brown to Oklahoma. Additionally, top JUCO prospect Keyshawn Blackstock transferred out after a few games as a Spartan.

Baldwin has started much of the last two seasons at left tackle for Michigan State football but has yet to stay healthy for a full season. Boyd showed flashes in his limited playing time last season, including a few starts, but has not secured a spot on the line, either.

Fellow transfer Tanner Miller will be playing on the interior, likely replacing Samac at the center position. The Spartans also return Geno VanDeMark, Dallas Fincher, and Kristian Phillips, who all saw considerable time on the interior this season. Gavin Broscious (interior) and Stanton Ramil (tackle) both missed 2023 with injuries but should be mostly healthy for spring practices. Cole Dellinger, Ashton Lepo, Braden Miller, and highly-rated PWO Jacob Merritt all also return for Spartans with very little to no experience. Additionally, 2024 four-star Rustin Young joins the program this offseason, alongside the Luniewski twins (who are early enrollees), Payton Stewart, and Idaho’s Player of the Year, offensive guard Rakeem Johnson.

Newman should slot in as an early favorite to start.

I think Newman should be the early favorite to be the blindside blocker for Aidan Chiles over Brandon Baldwin. Newman has the experience and caliber that the Spartans need to try to compete with the Big Ten edge rushers. However, Young, Ramil, or another contender might push Newman to either the other side or inside. I’m very high on Newman and think he is a starter; the only question should be which position.

Portal outlook for the Spartans

Newman joins fellow transfers Jordan Turner (Wisconsin), Wayne Matthews III (Old Dominion), D’Quan Douse (Georgia Tech), Tanner Miller, Jack Velling, Aidan Chiles (all three from Oregon State), TJ Sheffield (Purdue), Quindarius Dunnigan (Middle Tennessee State), Kaden Schickel (James Madison), Tommy Schuster (North Dakota), Aveon Grose (Southern Illinois), and Carson Voss (Western Michigan) as players to join the Spartans this offseason.

Michigan State Media and Information Management Class of '22. Emmett covers primarily football, recruiting, and basketball for Spartan Shadows. He has also written for Spartan Avenue, Basic Blues, and Hail WV.

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