By TOM SHANAHAN
My MSUings from Michigan State football’s 52-12 loss to No. 4-ranked Ohio State Saturday at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans dropped to 2-4, while Buckeyes (5-0) gained a decisive win it needed in the hunt for one of four College Football Playoff berths.
In the morning, I was driving and listening the ESPN’s Saturday morning radio show, “Dari and Mel,” when it was announced Ohio State was without three starting offensive linemen among four starters and 17 players due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
Three offensive line starters set off upset-alert alarms. Dari Nowkhah wondered aloud to Mel Kiper what that did to the betting line, which had favored the Buckeyes by 23.5 points. His answer came back quickly. The needled moved only slightly to 22.
Why not more than one point?
Well, look at the guys Ohio State plugged in. The Buckeyes, like Alabama and Clemson have 5- and 4-star recruits follow each other like lemmings, creating an imbalance that has broken college football. The sport is only for about a half-dozen schools with the recruiting edge to make the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State’s five starters Saturday averaged 4.0 stars as recruits. The lone 3-star in the starting lineup was the mammoth Dawand Jones, a 6-foot-8, 360-pounder. The normal starting lineup averages 4.2 stars.
Here were Saturday’s new starters and the regular starters:
— LT, sophomore Dawand Jones (6-8, 360), 3-stars, replaced senior Thayer Munford (6-6, 317), 3-stars.
— LG, redshirt sophomore Matt Jones (6-4, 310), 4 stars, started in place of Harry Miller, who moved to center.
— C, sophomore Harry Miller (6-3, 315), 4 stars, shifted from left guard to replace redshirt junior Josh Meyers (6-5, 312), 4 stars.
— RG, Redshirt junior Wyatt Davis (6-4, 315), 5-stars, remained at right guard for fifth straight start.
— RT Redshirt sophomore Matt Wray (6-7, 308), 4-stars, replaced redshirt sophomore Nicholas Petit-Frere (6-5, 310), 5 stars.
And like Alabama and Clemson, Ohio State’s pursuit of 5- and 4-star recruits hasn’t been limited to its backyard. Only Matt Jones is from Ohio.
Dawand Jones is from Indianapolis; Munford, Cincinnati; Matt Jones, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Miller, Buford, Georgia; Davis, Bellflower, California; Wray Franklin, Tennessee; and Petit-Frere, Tampa, Florida.
Ohio State’s 2021 offensive line recruits include more of the same. Zenuae Mihcalski (6-6, 285) is a 4-star from Floyds Knobs, Indiana, and Donovan Jackson (6-4, 295), 5-stars from Houston.
Michigan State’s front six in the 4-2-5 scheme averaged 2.8 stars: defensive end Jacob Slade, 3; defensive tackle Dashaun Mallory, 3; defensive end Drew Beesley, 2; linebacker Antjuan Simmons, 4; and linebacker Noah Harvey, 2.
Michigan State’s recruiting had been falling since the 3-9 2016 season and that talent gap with Ohio State has grown wider.
NICK SABAN TOPS BEAR BRYANT, 1-0
Michigan State coach Mel Tucker and his staff no doubt did their own homework deciding Carson Casteel was undervalued as a 2-star linebacker recruit out of Florence, Alabama. Tucker offered and Casteel announced on Friday his commitment.
But if Tucker sought an opinion from Alabama coach Nick Saban, it won’t come as a surprise Saban had seen Casteel at summer camps and also graded him as underrated. Tucker got his start in coaching under Saban at Michigan State as a graduate assistant in 1997 and 1998 and was on his Alabama staff as assistant coach/defensive backs in 2015.
Saban doesn’t need to take a chance on a 2-star prospect since so many 4- and 5-star recruits want to play for Alabama. He has four linebacker commitments in his 2021 class, three 4-stars and one 5-star.
But what’s interesting if Saban did assist Tucker’s evaluation is that means Saban directed one more recruit from Alabama to Michigan State than did Alabama coach Bear Bryant.
As everyone who reads my stories knows, I learned from researching “Raye of Light” there is no truth to the myths and fiction that Bear Bryant sent Michigan State coach Duffy Daugherty Blacks players that could play for him at segregated Alabama.
Not only were none of Daugherty’s 44 Underground Railroad recruits from 1959 through 1972 from Alabama, it was also revealed Bryant had no knowledge of Black recruits. He admitted it in depositions that Civil Rights attorney U.W. Clemon took after the Alabama Afro-American student association sued Bryant for failing to recruit Black athletes.
Some Michigan State fans like the association with Bryant and try to challenge my research. As I explain to them, to believe Bryant was sending Daugherty players casts Daugherty as a passive bystander and Bryant a leader.
Actually, Daugherty was the courageous leader and Bryant was comfortable with the status quo of segregated football in a Jim Crow state. To accept the fiction dispossesses Daugherty of his role leading college football integration.
The myth, like the fiction surrounding the 1970 USC-Alabama game, has usurped Daugherty of his place in history.
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