Spartans Class Superlatives

Montae Nicholson

Michigan State landed probably the best class under Mark Dantonio, with many widely recruited prospects and versatile prospects. We decided to hand out some awards for various areas of the class now Signing Day is behind us.

Biggest Recruiting Win: Malik McDowell

While he has yet to sign at the time of publishing, McDowell is hands down the biggest coup in the 2014 class for Michigan State. To keep the top in-state player is one accomplishment, but MSU has been doing that for most of the past five years. McDowell brings a different flair. The Spartans had to beat out the nation's top programs for the 6-foot-6 defensive tackle and did so on Signing Day -- something not seen often around East Lansing.

Honorable Mention: Montae Nicholson, T.J. Harrell

Instant Impact: Craig Evans

The former Wisconsin commit long had affections for the Michigan State program and that is where he wound up shortly after parting ways with Wisconsin. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound defensive tackle plays with burst and figures to jump into the lineup early in his career as the Spartans like to rotate defensive linemen. Physically, he is ready to play the college game. It's just a matter of when he gets on campus and how quickly he can pick up Pat Narduzzi's schemes.

Honorable Mention: Enoch Smith, Montae Nicholson

Mr. Versatile: T.J. Harrell

The competition for most versatile signee is fierce. The Spartans have excelled at grabbing players who can play multiple positions and it allows them to shuffle and succeed. Harrell takes the cake in this one, though. It appears he will start his career as a linebacker, and Mike Tressel loves the idea of him at the STAR spot it sounds like for his cover skills. He also could be a good strong safety or a running back as he shows the skills necessary to succeed at either of those spots as well.

Honorable Mention: Montae Nicholson, Matt Morrissey, Gerald Owens

Most Likely Future Captain: Matt Sokol/Brian Allen

Maybe the hardest category to select, Sokol and Allen were both strong candidates and it was a toss up. For Sokol, when he went down with an injury late in his senior year, he was more concerned with things like missing practice and helping his team than the fact he was injured. He comes from a strong family that instilled leadership and discipline in him, so it's pretty natural. Throw in that he enrolled early and he has a strong case. As for Allen, he is a tough kid just like his brother and will be a lead-by-example player in East Lansing. His teammates are going to respect him for his work ethic and attitude on the field and the coaches will love him.

Honorable Mention: Chris Frey, Byron Bullough, Vayante Copeland

Never Expected This in August: Montae Nicholson

One of the top players in the state of Pennsylvania, it was long thought that Nicholson desired most to stay close to home. Pittsburgh was in the running for a while, as was Penn State near the end as James Franklin worked to flip Nicholson. Throw in that he visited Oregon and Florida State and has a huge offer list, Nicholson was quite a pull and one that was hard to see coming.

Honorable Mention: Malik McDowell, David Hedelin

Top Recruiter: Chris Frey

Frey worked to get Robert Bowers in the fold and it worked out well. The day Bowers committed, he was visiting campus with Frey and Frey's father, Chris Frey Sr. While J.J. Pinckney was still an MSU target, Frey also was working hard on him. Once he had established MSU as his destination, Frey was grinding out on the recruiting trail working hard.

Honorable Mention: Enoch Smith, Brian Allen

Sleeper: Jalen Watts-Jackson

Not highly recruited out of Orchard Lake St Mary's, Jackson is a defensive back and if there seems to be one position group the Spartans seem to recruit best it's in the secondary. Watts-Jackson brings length and huge leaping ability to the secondary, so he has the potential to be a playmaker down the road.

Check Back in Two Years: Matt Morrissey

Morrissey will enter Michigan State as a wide receiver and he was compared to Blair White by Mark Dantonio on Signing Day. He likely won't be an immediate impact guy at that position and could wind up somewhere else, but in a couple years, Morrissey would be an important cog at the wide receiver spot.

Honorable Mention: David Beedle

Most Interesting Journey to MSU: Chase Gianacakos

Gianacakos grew up in Shanghai, Spain the Netherlands and England among others. Because of that, he didn't wind up playing football until his freshman year because he was busy playing soccer during those years. It's certainly not every day a football recruit come with such a background. He also committed on April Fool's Day ... so there's that.

Honorable Mention: David Hedelin

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