National signing day is one of the only times each year when the fax machine is once again relevant, and the hopes of an entire fan base are on the shoulders of a teenager.
For MSU and head coach Mark Dantonio, the 18 athletes who signed on Wednesday fill the holes left by graduating seniors and players leaving for the next level.
MSU has the 39th best recruiting class in the country, according to rivals.com
“I guess the biggest thing is that when I look at our football team, we’ve got depth, we’ve got a foundation built,” Dantonio said. “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.”
Headlining the 2013 class are linebacker Shane Jones, from Cincinnati, and quarterback Damion Terry, from Erie, Penn.
The Spartans are deep at the linebacker position with the return of seniors Max Bullough and Denicos Allen, but Dantonio said he’s not afraid to play young players.
The seventh-year head coach has been stingy about playing true freshmen in the past, but cited sophomore wide receiver Aaron Burbridge as a players who made an early impact.
“We’re going to always play the best players,” he said. “We say that walking in the door. You don’t want to play them just to play them because you want to build for the future.”
After tight end Dion Sims decided to forgo his senior season and put his name in the NFL draft, the tight end position is up for grabs.
Sophomore tight end Paul Lang caught 3 passes for 8 yards and one touchdown last season, and Dantonio said incoming-freshman Dylan Chmura could see some early playing time.
“He’s a big, physical, strong?looking guy, powerful, great in the weight room,” Dantonio said. “I think there’s a need at that position as we move forward, so he’s going to have opportunities. He caught the ball very, very effectively, and he’s got confidence.”
Chmura’s father, Mark, played seven seasons in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers and was selected to three Pro Bowls.
With more than 200 days until kickoff at Spartan Stadium in the fall, Dantonio said he expects a lot out of his very talented class.
“(I am) very, very excited about our class this year,” Dantonio said. “As always, I think that a lot goes into signing a football class, a lot of investment, time from our coaches, and the various people within our organization here. It’s not really where you come in at, it’s where you finish.”