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Michigan State football: 5 recruits the Spartans could land by Early Signing Day

The class could soon be growing.

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Michigan State football
© Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State football currently stands at seven commits in the 2024 class. Who are five prospects who could improve this group?

Upon being announced as the head coach of Michigan State football, Jonathan Smith has had a lot of responsibilities to perform for the Spartans. He has made his first batch of hires, spoken to his players, and now he and the Michigan State staff have hit the recruiting trail hard. Blue Adams has been pictured for multiple in-home visits, Harlon Barnett has contacted recruits stating that he was with the program, and the staff has informed prospects that their offer from the previous staff still applies to Smith’s program.

In part due to the Mel Tucker saga, Michigan State currently has the No. 102 ranked class for 2024. Nick Marsh is currently the sole four-star of the class, although commits like Justin Denson and Jadyn Walker have seen some hype to their names that could lead to a late bump in their rankings.

The headline-grabbing Marsh warrants the hype as a four-star, as the No. 120 prospect in the country.

With the staff hard at work, who are some players that would help round out the Michigan State football signing day class?

1. Brady Pretzlaff, 3-star LB

Brady Pretzlaff is a prospect that has received considerable attention since Jonathan Smith was announced as the next head coach of Michigan State football. Pretzlaff is from Gaylord, Mich., and is currently ranked as the No. 669 prospect in the class. He is a top-15 player from the state of Michigan and has been committed to Big Ten foe Minnesota since Jan. 19. The home-state Spartans were late to the party, offering Pretzlaff on Sept. 8. After Smith re-upped the offer, Pretzlaff will now be coming in for an official visit on Dec. 8.

Pretzlaff provides both the skill and size needed at the linebacker position at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. He impressed during the 2023 high school season, recording 126 tackles, 31 tackles for loss, and 8.0 sacks, per 247Sports. While he was held out of the interception column this season, he recorded two during his junior season.

The Spartans’ linebacking core, outside of Jordan Hall and the graduating Aaron Brule, struggled mightily last season. Additionally, Brule, Jacoby Windmon, and Sam Edwards all took part in Senior Day festivities. With Hall and now-seniors Cal Haladay and Darius Snow likely returning as starters, it could be a season before Pretzlaff slides in. That said, Pretzlaff could push Aaron Alexander, Ma’a Gateote (injured last season, in case you forgot), and Quavian Carter for quality reps in practice and on game day.

2. Andrew Dennis, 4-star IOL

Andrew Dennis is a name many of you are familiar with, as he was a one-time commit to Michigan State football. Since he decommitted on Oct. 16, he has received lots of attention, with offers and visits from Clemson, Utah, Penn State, Illinois, and Kentucky, among others. Illinois managed to impress Dennis, with his commitment coming three days after his visit. However, since his commitment, the new Spartan recruiting staff is prioritizing the Mount Pleasant prospect.

Dennis is one of the most talented interior offensive linemen in the country, ranking No. 392 in the country. As a top-10 prospect in the state of Michigan, he should be a high priority of this staff. Until the moment the pen hits the paper on signing day, the staff needs to pursue a lineman with the talent and caliber of Dennis. Combine Andrew Dennis with Rustin Young (more on him later) and the Luniewski twins, and the Spartan line of the future would be ready to go.

The chances of landing Dennis are not great, but I believe that the Smith staff can bring Dennis back. There was enough mutual interest to keep Dennis for over a month after the Mel Tucker saga, and the pedigree of Jim Michalczik certainly helps the case.

3. Rustin Young, 4-star OT

Rustin Young mentioned by me again? What a surprise, I know. Unlike my first two listed prospects, Young is not currently committed to a conference foe. In fact, he is not committed to any school.

Young, who recently decommitted from Oregon State, is one of the top prospects from the state of Hawaii. Depending on which 247Sports ranking you look at, Young rates as a three or four-star. He is rated No. 651 prospect per the composite, but at the regular rankings, he is as high as No. 210. Hawaii high school football is one of the harder areas to rank, in part due to the lack of national exposure. That said, you just need to turn on the tape of Young to see why I am writing my third article on him since Jonathan Smith was announced as the head coach. Young was the top recruit of the 2024 Oregon State class prior to Smith’s trip to East Lansing along with Michalczik.

If you want more on the state of the Michigan State offensive line depth in relation to Young, my article on his decommitment touches on it more. Of the currently listed prospects, Young is the prospect I feel the best about the Spartans landing, as Smith’s staff landed him with Oregon State, and has opened the door for Young to follow.

4. Anthony Carrie, 4-star RB

Anthony Carrie is another Michigan State decommit and a name you might be familiar with. He re-opened his recruitment on Nov. 20, around a week before Smith was named the Spartan head coach.

Carrie is currently the highest-rated player on this list, coming in at No. 295 in the country on 247Sports composite. He is a top-20 running back in the country, and his stats back this up. During his career at Carrollwood Day (Florida), Carrie ran for over 3,800 yards and racked up 55 rushing touchdowns. He was no slouch in the receiving game either, with 337 receiving yards and an additional three touchdowns. His senior season saw an even 1,200 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on only 154 rushing attempts.

Nate Carter was a breakout for the Spartan rushing attack last season, but he was the only player in the room to stay healthy the whole season. Jalen Berger provides a superb option to complement Carter, and Carrie would create a three-headed monster for the Spartans. Carrie would enter the season battling with Davion Primm, Jaelon Barbarin, and potentially Jaren Mangham for touches as the third back. Carrie could also use the extra year with Carter and Berger receiving the majority of reps to bulk up, as he currently weighs in at 185 pounds. Michigan State can never have too many running backs, as the Spartans ended the year with Harold Joiner taking offensive reps after moving to linebacker for the 2022 season.

Carrie is the most likely of any prospect to commit to the Spartans, as he is already being projected to sign with Michigan State again. The recommitment of Carrie would certainly be a great sign that the Spartans can finish the deal after the recent running back commitment woes that have plagued Michigan State football.

While I feel good about Carrie committing, I will not feel safe until the pen is to the paper, as Audric Estime and Kedrick Reescano’s decommitments still haunt me.

5. Andrew Brinson IV, 3-star ATH/DB

Andrew Brinson IV joins Young as a recent Oregon State decommit who the staff is looking to bring with them to East Lansing. He was one of the first people the new staff offered when they arrived at Michigan State.

Brinson is the lowest-rated prospect of any on this list, coming in as the No. 1,011 prospect per 247Sports Composite. That said, high school ratings do not tend to matter much. Just ask Darqueze Dennard (No. 1,450 in his high school class) about the high school ratings.

Brinson would join a Michigan State secondary that has lots of room to improve. Under Scottie Hazelton, the secondary was battered and picked on constantly. By the end of the season, four of the top six on the depth chart for cornerbacks had missed 6 or more games. Dillon Tatum, Chuck Brantley, Marqui Lowery, and Justin White were all injured (the first three) or in the portal (White). True freshman Chance Rucker received loads of playing time this season, and Brinson can follow Rucker’s path to the field this season if injuries kick in or he impresses during fall camp. Back on the topic of ratings, Rucker was only rated No. 450 in the 2023 class, and he certainly received more playing time than countless players rated ahead of him.

Brinson is a prospect who the Spartans need to, and should, land. He has the talent, and the track and field star from Florida will add a spark to the defensive back room.

If I had to rank these five in an ordered list of who I believe will be the next Spartans, it would be:

  1. Carrie
  2. Brinson IV
  3. Young
  4. Pretzlaff
  5. Dennis

Our class might only have seven players currently but expect things to change in a big way before Early Signing Day is here on Dec. 20.

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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