In the middle of a recruiting season marred with wavering interest and flip-flopping commitments, the MSU football coaching staff finally got some good news Monday night.
Tom Dance, a speedy 6-foot-2 all-around athlete from Erie Cathedral Preparatory School, verbally committed to the Spartans after an official recruiting trip this past weekend. Dance, who plays safety, wide receiver and quarterback as well as special teams, is expected to join MSU's 2004 recruiting class.
It was a combination of program momentum and academics that Dance said made his mind up - quickly and assuredly.
"It's just because (MSU) has a great coaching staff, program and facilities," Dance said. "They're well-known for their business majors."
Dance's business acumen, though, takes a back seat to his greatest asset - his speed.
Dance runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash and is the current Pennsylvania state champion in the 110-meter hurdles. Speed is what Dance thinks will help the Spartans all over the field.
"I really like wide receiver, but (I'll play) whatever is going to help the team," Dance said. "I think I can be a great contribution to special teams and at wide receiver and defensive back."
Dance's verbal commitment is an especially timely one for the Spartans. Just more than a week ago, Detroit DePorres wide receiver Carl Grimes broke his verbal commitment to MSU, offering the likelihood he would commit to Florida State after a visit scheduled for December.
In addition to the Spartans, Dance said he'd been recruited by Purdue, Iowa, Buffalo and Syracuse. He said he had wanted to play for a Big Ten team throughout his recruitment, calling it "a great conference with great competition."
Dance's coach at Erie Cathedral Prep, Michael Mischler, said leadership is what sets Dance apart from the rest.
"He's obviously a great athlete, but he defines leadership for our team, which is sorely needed at times," Mischler said. "We've got a lot of kids (in addition to Dance) who lead by example. He just doesn't run his mouth to say something."
But, ultimately, it was the opportunity to play for a winning team that has Dance excited about Saturdays in East Lansing this fall.
"The fact that (MSU) is doing well this year and they're an up-and-coming program affected my decision," Dance said. "It had a great effect on my decision."