The annual jubilation and enthusiasm surrounding national signing day — the day when college football’s biggest recruits sign letters of intent — swept optimism across the sport’s biggest fan bases Wednesday.
The hoopla traveled from the West Coast through the deep South and even made a brief stop in East Lansing, where at least one person is “very excited.”
That person is Mark Dantonio.
He might be the only one, and excitement from him doesn’t exactly look the way it does on most people’s faces.
You have to understand, the things Dantonio finds exciting most others don’t.
Small recruiting classes excite him — they represent stability.
Dantonio usually signs smaller recruiting classes than most Big Ten schools because few players leave the program disgruntled, and as a result, fewer scholarships are available.
Character excites him. He likes players that honor their commitments, counting only two players to ever decommit from MSU in his seven years at the helm.
Humility excites him. He enjoys hard-working players that come to MSU ready to learn and leave as better people and players than they were before.
He has those things in this class.
Unfortunately, those things don’t win you signing days. In fact, Dantonio never has been close.
This recruiting class, which was rated 38th in the country by rivals.com, is the sixth of Dantonio’s seven recruiting classes to fall between the 30-40 rank nationally.
He doesn’t care. He likes what he sees and, more importantly, likes that he’s the one seeing it.
He trusts the eyes of a coaching staff that found unknown recruits, such as Kirk Cousins, Trenton Robinson, Keshawn Martin, Le’Veon Bell and Jerel Worthy, among others, and turned them all into NFL players.
“We want to bring people in to fit our program. We want to bring people in here that fit our chemistry, the same type of people that we have here that are people that want to work for the common good of everybody,” Dantonio said.
So, you can choose to be thrilled, angry or anywhere in between about a small class largely filled with three-star Midwestern recruits that likely won’t be talked about on ESPN for some time.
Dantonio doesn’t care.
He knows what he’s got and he’s excited. Just don’t expect him to smile about it.