June 11, 2013

Spartan Watch: Offensive Line

With camp set to kickoff, recruiting once again takes center stage for the Michigan State staff. In our Spartan Watch feature, we break down Michigan State's recruiting efforts position by position to see how the Spartans are looking to fill out the remainder of the Class of 2014.

Today, we take a look at the offensive line.

1. How many will Michigan State take?

Looking at the current scholarship numbers it seems likely that the Spartans will sign 4 offensive line prospects to the class of 2014. Michigan State only signed 1 offensive line prospect last year in Dennis Finley of Detroit Cass Tech High School, so that means that the opportunity for 2014 players to red-shirt and battle for a spot in the two-deeps will definitely be there. Based on the current Michigan State roster, class of 2014 commitments will have an excellent opportunity to be 2 and 3-years starters if the stay healthy and work hard.

2. Who has Michigan State landed so far?

The Spartan currently have 2 commitments in offensive tackle prospect Chase Gianacakos of Illinois and offensive center prospect Brian Allen of Illinois. Gianacakos is a 6-foot-6, 287-pound prospect who will likely project at the right tackle position in college. He selected the Spartans over offers from Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas and Indiana. Allen is one of the top rated center prospects in the nation for 2014 and he selected the Spartans over offers from Iowa, Wisconsin, Maryland, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Cal and Purdue. The two of them give the Spartans a strong foundation for the OL class of 2014.

3. Who is already off the board?

Of the players offered that the Michigan State staff had made a concerted effort to recruit; only Kyle Trout of Ohio is off the board. The Spartans offered Trout early in the process and were able to host him at a junior day function. Trout however grew up a Buckeye fansand when the offer from Urban Meyer came through he jumped on the opportunity. At this point, Trout is the only prospect off the board that the staff put considerable resources into recruiting.

4. Which recruit does Michigan State have the best shot at landing?

I am not sure there is one player in particular that the Spartans would be seen as the team to beat and that is for good reason. The Spartans have not offered any in-state prospects at the position and the players they are after are all All-American level recruits. When it comes to who the top players on the board are for the Spartans it is obvious that a few recruits have the full attention of the staff. Those players are: JaMarco Jones of Illinois, Alex Bookser of Pennsylvania, Danny Burns of Ohio, Nick Richardson of Ohio and Roderick Johnson of Missouri. The Spartans have scouted all of these players extensively and have had the opportunity to have just about all of them on campus as well.

5. Any long shots or sleepers out there?

I would certainly not label this player a long shot or a sleeper, but a name to remember is Frank Ragnow of Minnesota. The 6-foot-5, 288-pound prospect is expected to attend the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp later this week and the Michigan State staff will be there evaluating him. A solid performance in front of the staff might all it takes for Ragnow to receive a Spartan offer. If that happens look for Michigan State to be right in the thick of things along with some of the other Big Ten programs that have offered such as Minnesota and Nebraska.

Brady Taylor of Ohio is another name to keep an eye on. If Taylor attends a session of camp, he could vault up the list very quickly. Taylor is one of the players in Ohio that SpartanMag.com believes is rated a bit low based on his film and the level of interest he is receiving.

6. How will thing play out?

The recruitment of several of these players could be impacted by commitments or lack thereof to other schools. At this point, Michigan State is going head-to-head with Ohio State for several recruits. Getting Ohio players who have a Buckeye offer out of Ohio is never easy. Right now Ohio State has not offered Burns, Richardson or taylor for that matter. Ohio State is very much in the mix for Jones. The Buckeyes have 2 offensive line commits and I have been told they plan on taking 5. However, one of those 5 is expected to be a JUCO player so the actual number that could impact Michigan State is 2. I do not think the Spartan can go wrong if they are able to add any 2 of the above 7 players mentioned in question 4 and 5.

If for some reasons things do not play out as expected, look for the staff to turn the focus on some southern prospects. Players from Florida who are not committed come September will be setting up post-season visits and Michigan State will be a strong option for some Sunshine State player that is looking to make his mark outside of Florida.

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