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Michigan State football targeting Division 2 All-American LB from Ferris State

Could the Spartans land a Division 2 national champion?



Michigan State football
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal

Michigan State football is looking to address the defense in the transfer portal, even looking at some Division 2 talent.

Mel Tucker is not afraid of the transfer portal. Heck, the Michigan State football coach embraces it and knows that it’s one of the ways he was able to turn the program around in one year.

So after a disappointing 2022 season, hitting that transfer portal heavily again seems like the right option.

On Friday, Tucker landed his first transfer of the spring in Cincinnati defensive back Armorion Smith who is actually from Detroit. He played in 12 games as a redshirt freshman in 2022 and had 20 tackles and an interception.

Also on Friday, Tucker offered one of the best defensive players from the Division 2 level who also happens to be a local kid. Konnor Near, a St. John’s, Mich., native, posted that he had received an offer from Michigan State on Twitter after what appears to be an unofficial visit.

While Michigan State is pretty set at linebacker, it seems, adding some depth there is imperative. He could immediately join that linebacker rotation and maybe even give the defense more schematic options. If he chooses Michigan State, that would give the Spartans a handful of starting-caliber options at the position.

Near is an All-American from the Division 2 level and he just helped Ferris State win its second straight national title in 2022. That kind of proven experience, albeit at a lower level, is something Tucker is looking for. Scottie Hazelton would love to add this piece to the defensive puzzle.

Michigan State had to act fast with the offer to Near as he’s been gaining a ton of interest lately from other Power Five programs such as Cincinnati (yes, it’s in the Power Five now), Duke, Georgia Tech, West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Washington State.

The Spartans have the advantage of being the hometown team.

Near has two years of eligibility remaining.

Writer, co-owner of Spartan Shadows. Michigan State and college football expert at FanSided and formerly of The Detroit News. Expert on all things Michigan State. Connor Muldowney has written about Michigan State since graduating from the university with a degree in journalism back in 2013. Ten years of experience as a Michigan State writer/reporter.


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