Michigan State University entered last weekend with only 11 verbal commitments in their 2013 recruiting class, but once the week concluded the Spartans added 3-star offensive tackle Dennis Finley (Detroit, Mich.) and unranked defensive end Demetrius Cooper (Chicago, Ill.) to their crop of rising senior prospects.
Neither one of the commitments came as a surprise to Michigan State fans. However the Spartans did manage to steal Finley from Detroit Cass Tech High School, which has seen almost all of its top prospects commit to the University of Michigan's football program over the past several years, including rising seniors David Dawson (Detroit, Mich.) and Jourdan Lewis (Detroit, Mich.).
Although an offer from the Wolverines never came through, Finley could have opted to play for Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin or Illinois. Instead, the No. 27 prospect in the state of Michigan, according to Rivals.com, chose to play for the Spartans, because of his overall comfort level with the coaching staff and university in general.
Cass Tech's head coach Thomas Wilcher believes his starting offensive tackle has more than enough size at 6'6" and 285 pounds, along with the necessary skill set to become a stand-out lineman for the Spartans down the road.
"Dennis had great upswing," Wilcher told Beard. "He has a lot of assets that you just can't coach like his height and speed. He has everything you need for an offensive lineman. I'm sure with a couple of years of coaching in the MSU program, he will become an even better player with pro potential.
Landing Finley may help Michigan State's chances at landing Cass Tech's coveted class of 2014 wide receiver and defensive back Damon Webb (Detroit, Mich). The junior athlete recently enjoyed an unofficial visit to East Lansing and already holds offers from Michigan, LSU, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Additionally, the Spartans picked up a verbal commitment from Cooper, a standout at Julian High School, on Saturday night. Cooper loved several things about the Michigan State football program, but the family atmosphere the Spartans have created under head coach Mark Dantonio ultimately sealed the deal.
"It really is a family feel at Michigan State and that was something I was really looking at pretty hard," Cooper informed EdgyTim.com after his commitment. "You can tell right away that the coaches and the players are all in it together. I want to play for a program that is looking out for each other and a program that wants each other to succeed."
"Michigan State is just the best fit for me so I decided to end my recruiting and I'm really happy about it."
Finally, the Spartans have established themselves as serious contenders for highly-touted Plainfield South High School linebacker Clifton Garrett (Joliet, Ill.).
The 6'3", 220-pounder listed his top five schools in a recent Detroit News article by Sam Webb.
"Right now I don't have any leaders," Garrett said. "My list right now would probably be Oklahoma, Ohio State, then Michigan State, then Notre Dame, then Wisconsin."
Garrett's recruitment appears to be a three-team race between Ohio State, Oklahoma and the Spartans at the moment. Notre Dame and Wisconsin will have chances to move up, but for now they are playing catch up with the three aforementioned programs.
Zach Dirlam is the former Lead Editor of the College Basketball section as well as Big Ten columnist for the FOX Sports/MSN/YardBarker affiliate website Sports at Work. Check out his blog, Dirlam’s Dirty Dugout Sports Blog, which features this story, along with other articles and video reports on major sports.
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