It’s the biggest moment yet for Mel Tucker at Michigan State
In his first two seasons at Michigan State, Mel Tucker beat his arch-rival twice, won a New Year’s Six Bowl game, and entered the Big Ten title race in November of that year. last.
These are all great moments for a coach and program not far removed from a 2-5 campaign in 2020. But despite that, the biggest moment Tucker has faced as a Michigan State coach is the one that’s happening right now.
In June, Tucker will host some More than 40 recruits on official visit to Michigan State. They include 35 Top 500 prospects, 29 of which are rated 4 stars or better. They come from 15 different states.
This kind of recruitment wave is unprecedented in the state of Michigan. In recent years, the NCAA has allowed official visits to begin in June. But Tucker takes that to the extreme this month, as he realizes the magnitude of the moment.
After the Spartans were humiliated by Ohio State (56-7) in Columbus last season, Tucker was asked in his postgame press conference what he and his program needed to do to be able to compete and possibly win games like this. He delivered a direct and concise response summarizing the issue that will likely define his legacy at the state of Michigan.
“Recruitment is where we are going to close the gap,” he said. “We need more depth. We need more guys who can win one-on-one…and I don’t think that’s news.
“We’re going to recruit like crazy. We’re going to be relentless in doing that. We’re designed to recruit at a high level. Overall, that’s what we have to do – we have to recruit like crazy.”
Fast forward to seven months after that game, when his Spartans didn’t look like they were on the same playing field as Ohio State, let alone as if they were up to the task – the score was 49-0 in second quarter – Tucker nails those drawings.
MSU takes on the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Notre Dame, among others, for many of the more than 40 players taking their VOs to East Lansing in June. Tucker is swinging for the fences in his first recruiting season not limited by the pandemic.
By some metrics from recruiting publications, Michigan State has more 4-star VO prospects in June than any other college football program. If Michigan State is going to challenge the Buckeyes in the Big Ten and make some noise nationally, Tucker will need a lot of those types of players in order to raise the talent profile of this program.
After going 2-5 in his freshman year, Tucker produced Michigan State’s first top-25 recruiting class since 2017. He leveraged the transfer portal to redo the team from a 2-5 miss to an 11-2 success during an off-season.
If he was able to make that progress while selling hope, can he recruit the Spartans to the big table now that he can sell results?
We are about to find out.
Candidates for Big Ten expansion
If the Big Ten plans to form its own 16-team mega-conference to compete with the SEC, it will need to add two schools. Here are some candidates, including the attributes that make them attractive to the Big Ten and some things that could make them bad.