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MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE


February 4, 2015


Mark Dantonio


COACH DANTONIO:  We watched probably about 80 snaps there, so first of all, want to thank everybody for coming today.  Throughout this recruiting process, very long time period as you go through this, it usually starts sometimes in their early junior year and sometimes their sophomore year, so it's the accumulation of a long effort and great job by our coaches and really everybody who touches our program in so many different ways.
When we came here back in 2007, the reality of the situation was that we were selling hope.  Our facilities needed to be adjusted. We had not been to a Bowl game in a couple years.  It's to a point now where we are selling results and that's a big difference.
When you look at where we are at right now, you can look at our record and look at the record over the past five years, and you can look at the two No.5 or better rankings, you can look at the top‑‑ winning the last four Bowl games.¬† You can look at the record in the Big Ten, you can look at a lot of different things, and you can point towards those things as being a lot of success but how you get there, I think is really what defines you.
It's how you're getting there.  You're getting there with continuity from our coaching staff.  We're getting there with continuity from our administration, both our president and our athletic director and our administrators, all of our personnel.  We are getting there by putting guys in the NFL.  That's been happening on a consistent basis.
We are getting there by, I say it over and over and over, by the chemistry of our football team and the culture that exists here right now, the way that we are doing things, the way that our board of trustees really supports us in all the different things that they have done; the facilities that have been built here since coming here; the different players trusting us as we have gone through this last eight years.
So we are on year No.9, and I can honestly say that this group of people, this group of young people, I don't know if it will be our best but you certainly have a great feel for them in terms of the type of people that they are.  They are outstanding players.  I hear the term ESPN or whatever, top 300 thrown around a lot.  We had quite a few guys in that top 300.  We have justice many who will go on and do tremendous things here at Michigan State in so many different ways.
The first two big recruits we have got, really are Connor Cook and Shilique Calhoun.¬† I think I would be remiss to not say that, to have our starting quarterback, reader of our offense, a guy with experience, a guy that's 24‑3 in his last two years maybe.¬† I think I've got that right, is a tremendous asset.¬† Shilique Calhoun comes back, a guy that's been All‑American for us, two‑time first team All Big Ten player; in 2013 he was the Defensive Lineman of the Year.
To have both those guys back speaks not just in terms of what they bring in terms of their physical ability on the field but their leadership, and it speaks about what is right in this program and what is going on in this program.
They have opportunity to lead.  They have opportunity to be drafted.  Their decision to stay speaks to our chemistry and the culture we have established here and people want to belong to that.  Players that have graduated couldn't to come back and see that and feel that.  I want to thank them for doing what they have done, making that statement.  And with that, they will probably be our two biggest recruits.  I think I can pretty safely say that.
We have taken four offensive linemen this year, a quarterback, a running back, two wide receivers, a slash guy that can play wide receiver, defensive back, five additional defensive backs, four linebackers, four defensive linemen.
Really I think a lot of people point towards us as being a top‑20 recruiting class in many cases, I saw the numbers thrown around but the numbers really mean nothing, as I was walking in today, I was talking to one of our women's basketball players, and told her it was signing day today.¬† She said, hey, good look.¬† That's very exciting.
I said, now the real work starts.  They have to start to really define themselves.  And that is so true in everything that we are talking about here.  We have got guys from Texas, Arizona, Michigan certainly, Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, Utah.  We have more of a national brand I think this year maybe than we have in the past, because of our winning, because of what's gone on, I think nationally in terms of what we have been able to do, we have been able to capitalize on that in recruiting and build a base, not just as a football team in the Midwest and the Big Ten but a little bit more of a national base in terms of what we have done.  Florida would be included in that, as well, because we have got a guy from Florida.
I'll talk about each young man as we go forward here and sort of go from there and then answer questions as we go because we do have a number of guys.
Starting with our running back, one running back we did take, LJ Scott, an outstanding player, never wavered throughout the process.  It doesn't take long when you put on the film to see that LJ Scott is a guy that will be able to play in the Big Ten and carry the load.  He's used to carrying it, about 9,000 yards in his time there.  He was the players of the year two years in a row in his division at Hubbard High School, which is the same high school that Kurtis Drummond came from.
The main thing‑‑ great vision, great cutting ability, physical, 225 pounds, 6‑1, can go the distance, has everything.¬† Played in the All‑Star Game out in California.¬† But the most noticeable thing I got is he stayed the course and when he gave us his commitment, I think it was in July, he maintained that commitment throughout the entire process and never wavered when there were a lot of people that tried to knock on the door.
I think that not only him but credibility of our entire class.  We don't lose many committed guys.  We never have.  In this day and age, if you make the commitment here, it's okay.  I know in the early process how things go but if you make a solid commitment here, the tendency is for our players to stay with their commitments and very, very proud of that fact because that speaks to the relationships that have been developed, not just among our players but among each other, but with our host player and with our coaches in general.
But LJ will be an outstanding player.¬† He has the capability to play next year.¬† I believe that.¬† Usually running back is one of the first places you can play as a true freshman.¬† Reminds me very much of Bell, certainly much more highly‑recruited and we know where he's at right now.¬† He'll have an outstanding career here.
Our quarterback we took, Brian Lewerke, committed April 19 of last year, was one of our first commits.  Again, another guy that is one of the best players in the west, another top 300 guy.  Threw for 5,500 yards in his career there.  Outstanding leader.  Reminds me a lot of Kirk Cousins in the way he handles himself, the way goes about his business.  Creates with his feet, as well as with his arm, was in camp here, and threw the ball very, very, very well with efficiency and a lot of snap.  Delivery was very, very good, and has the opportunity to work out and see NFL guys every day.
When I was out there, I went to the guys that were working out at his high school, Colin Kaepernick, some of these other guys.  So he has coaches that have developed him to a high level and I think that he will be an outstanding quarterback for us.
Excellent student, as well and again, he's maintained that composure and commitment in a leadership position as he sort of has endured all the different people coming at him, as well.  Outstanding player for us.
Start with our offensive line, Kyonta Stallworth, people view him as the number win player in the State of Michigan.  Guy has committed a long time ago, probably last spring.  Said he wanted to play for us as a sophomore, maintained that approach throughout.
Had an opportunity to watch him practice, very quick body, very explosive player.  You watch him on film, as a defensive player, he's very, very good there, as well.
But I really think that as an offensive player, he can get out and play eight lot of different positions for us, he's athletic enough to play tackle, powerful enough to go inside but a guy that, again, another nationally‑recruited young man, a top 300 guy in the country.¬† And you know, all the things that you want in an offensive lineman, he possessions, weren't to sound mind and body camp last year as well as in our camps previously and just was dominant, was a dominant performer in that area.
Noah Listermann big, very big offensive lineman, about 6‑7, 6‑6, very athletic, has not been playing football all that long.¬† Plays five different music instruments; so we're bringing a band here.¬† He is an outstanding young man, very, very big upside, athletic, and gets on people.¬† When you're that big and you get on people, good things tend to happen for us.¬† So we are looking forward to him.¬† He will be an outstanding player here, as with most offensive linemen, probably redshirting the first year but I think he has a tremendous upside for us, highly‑recruited guy, as well.
Tyler Higby from Houston, Texas was the Player of the Year, outstanding lineman of the year in Houston, private school, and comes from an outstanding high school, Kincaid High School.¬† Basketball player.¬† Has relatives up here in Michigan.¬† I think that was the attraction.¬† Committed early in the process, as well.¬† I believe sometime fall, early fall‑‑ I can't keep everybody straight up here.
But athletic, very athletic and big, another big guy that will pay dividends down the road in terms of what he will be able to do.¬† But everywhere you go, in that high school, or that school really because it goes from age four on up, the people that talk about him and the things that are said about him as an individual, are very, very far‑reaching, tremendous.¬† He will be an outstanding person and player here at Michigan State, a guy that was highly‑recruited.
Cole Chewins from Clarkson High School is a young man with great growth potential.¬† 6‑6 or 6‑7, much like Jack Conklin when he came in, very athletic, defensive end, could really run, has good strength, upper body strength.¬† Plays basketball, two‑time state champion on their football team, as well and again, another young man when you go in that high school, what people say about him on an every day basis, as the leader and as a doer, are things that are extremely impressive to you as a coach as you go through the process there.¬† So he will be an outstanding player for us, as well, was defensive MVP on their team.
Going to the wide receivers, Felton Davis from Virginia, top 300 guy, as well.¬† Big, tall, 6‑4 guy.¬† Track athlete, almost like a decathlete, runs so many different events, was recruited as a decathlete by some institutions.¬† Big, rangy, great ball skills.¬† Been committed since early, I think maybe sometime last summer. ¬†Again, I can't remember this but it's been committed for a long period of time and has never wavered, as well.¬† Outstanding high school, Ron Burdon (ph)'s high school, so you know it has to be outstanding.¬† The relationships have been strong there ever since he's come on campus and he was up here a number of times for games and throughout the summer.
So a guy that I think will find his way, we lose five wide receivers next year and I think he'll find his way on the field very, very quickly.  So can be a dominant player for us.  Goes up and gets the football.
Darrell Stewart is a guy that plays multiple positions.  We'll recruit him as a wide receiver but he's played quarterback, defensive back and also wide receiver.  Great catching ability.  One of the better players in the Houston area, bringing a young man from that particular high school where he's from.  Have an opportunity to play for Coach Samuels, and so that will be outstanding for him.  Track guy and very, very athletic.
David Dowell is a guy we recruited as slash guy, another top 300 guy.  David has the ability to play corner and we will lean towards defensive back when he comes in here with the idea that if he has to go over and play wide receiver, he has the ability.  He'll start at corner, make transition to that field safety which is very much like Kurtis Drummond.
But he has great leaping ability, great ball skills, he's big, he tackles and he's from a tremendous high school in lake wood and very well‑coached.¬† They play our defense there which gives him a tremendous upside for us, so he should not miss a beat in terms of installation and things of that nature.¬† We look for him to possibility get on the field very, very early in his career.¬† When you go to the defensive backs, and he would be considered one or sort of a slash guy.
Grayson Miller from Kentucky.¬† He came here in camp and earned a scholarship, about 6‑2, 195 pounds, ran 4‑4 two different times in camp, long jump ten‑foot plus, vertical 35 inches with great ball skills and you just had a feeling like somebody was missing something.¬† So we offered him a scholarship.
His father, John Miller, played here.  He's a tremendous hitter, great ball skills, plays all over the place at his high school, another state champion high school down at Scott county.  Was hurt in his first game of his senior year, committed early in the process at camp actually and has maintained that commitment throughout but outstanding student.
Another guy when you go into the high school, I mean, I just believe you win with people.  I guess that's the message here.  You win with people.  At some point in time, you find out the truth about people as you move through the process, and they either add to your chemistry or they subtract from your chemistry.  In this case, I think all of our guys are adding to this chemistry and Grayson Miller, no question that he does that, as well.
But he's big enough to go in and play star as he puts on weight, but I think he's athletic enough to step out there and play that front side safety.  During camp he had the opportunity to work and was very, very good in coverage.
Khari Willis from Jackson, another young man who committed early in the process.¬† Dual player, he is a running back, safety, we're going to recruit him at safety, play him at safety.¬† Reminds me very much of Isaiah Lewis in the way he moves and the toughness factor.¬† Isaiah was an outstanding running back, as well but he's going to show up quick on the football field.¬† He's a no nonsense type guy‑‑ so he's responsible for that right from the get‑go.¬† Tough‑minded.
He's a basketball recruit, as well.¬† If he decides that he would want to do that, he would have my blessing to be able to do that.¬† Our basketball coaches know who he is.¬† He can come right down the middle of the court down the lane and slam it.¬† An outstanding football player, as well.¬† But very, very excited about him, about 200 pounds and it's all toughness and he's a no‑nonsense kind of guy, excellent student and I think he will be a quick performer for us.
At corner, other than David Dowell, Tyson Smith, reminds me of Renaldo Hill who I coached here back in the 90s.  Very smooth, very athletic.  Used to talk about Renaldo being the troop.  Very, very aware as a football player.  Great ball skills.  He's been in our camp the last couple years.  He's the nephew of Bobby Williams, good friend of mine, and I just can't say enough about him.
Again, another young man who was on a state championship football team, another young man in the top 300 of prospects.¬† That's a very general term that's thrown out there but with that comes all different kind of recognitions.¬† Plays baseball, runs track, playing in an All‑Star Game right now as we speak.
Kaleel Gaines, one young man who reminds me of Keyshawn Martin.¬† Electric, plays quarterback, wide receiver, defensive back, from Frostproof, Florida, guy that runs track, plays basketball, all over the place.¬† Tough‑minded athlete and very highly‑recruited young man, and another top player I think in the country.
He's the one player that we took out of Florida this year but really has the ability to run and make plays.  Great young man and was up here on a visit this fall camp.
Josh Butler from Dallas.¬† He took a bus up here during summer, basically because we established that, I guess that I guess reputation as putting out top defensive backs, and I guess you could say that's accurate with Trey Williams being a possible probably ‑‑ I would say it's a probable first round pick this year.¬† Got two first‑round corners if you're listening out there that have graduated from here and have played through three and four years here.
But Josh Butler is that kind of guy, in the top 250 prospects in the nation, very highly‑recruited guy, very well‑coached guy, much like Tyson Smith, very smooth, just played safety this year, was hurt after the first five games so he didn't finish the season but played corner as a true freshman‑‑ he may‑‑ but as a junior he played corner them.
Outstanding football player, very well‑coached, excellent kick returner, punt returner.¬† As I said, took the bus up two days riding to get here and experience Michigan State.¬† Made that decision early in the process among about, I think he had about 50 scholarship offers.
Andrew Dowell, one of the twins from St. Edwards, played safety in their secondary.¬† Was running back the year before.¬† Really concentrated on defense.¬† Again, a state champion.¬† Doesn't take long to put on the film, his senior film, to see that he can play.¬† Decided on that, really very quickly after seeing the film.¬† Makes plays in space, great ball skills, will play outside linebacker and star position for us, goes about 215 pounds, very active basketball player, both he and his brother from a very disciplined high school. ¬†State champions, played probably the highest competition in the State of Ohio.¬† Very excited, another 300‑ranked prospect or whatever.¬† I think he's 197 to be exact, I'm not sure.
Tyriq Thompson, outstanding lineback, excellent student, as well.  Made the decision to come here early in the process and is enrolled now and will be here for interviews after.  Starting his first winter workout yesterday, so he can speak to that, speak to the difference in terms of being recruited and being there.
But again, another young man that I just think had in his mind that he wanted to be at Michigan State because of the people and the chemistry.  But with an opportunity to be here at this point in time, will have the opportunity to get on the field very, very quickly.  So very, very excited to have him here and he's in the audience today.
Another guy who is in the top 300 in the nation and a guy that was generally considered No. 2 or three or four in the State of Michigan as an NFL prospect, so very highly‑recruited young man, had opportunities to go all over the place.
Drake Martinez, linebacker as well, 6‑2, 215 pounds, runs very effective.¬† They say he's the No. 3 or four outside backer in the country.¬† What Drake has done since we recruited him earlier in the process, he's electric.¬† He can run.¬† He can tackle.¬† He can catch the football and he's an athlete in all respects.¬† He can wind up playing at any position.
Because of the JC transfer rule right now, he will graduate because he came from the Big Ten.  Right now the fact that will be that he may have to sit out.  We will go on a public, what do they call that, go out in public and just try and stimulate things, public outcry I guess to try to have him three for three left. 
       Every other conference in the country does that, no reason the Big Ten Conference should not be doing that, as well.  He spends a year at a junior college.  I think that he should have the opportunity to go sit and play wherever he wants to go play and not have to sit out a year when he is eligible.
So we'll look to be able to do that but that's on the back end of things right now.  He'll have to sit one year and play two.  He made the decision to come.  Even though he's had the opportunity to go elsewhere in the Pac 12 and be able to play three for three.
Another statement towards what's going on here and what's going on with the people here, the chemistry here, the culture here and the direction this program is going.  I think that is, again, those are the things to me that speak volumes about this football program right now.
You win because of things like that.  You win because the chemistry and the culture.
Kenny Willekes is a young man that will come here from NorthPointe Christian, outstanding football player.  Look for him to join us in the fall.  Big, physical, plays like linebacker, plays on offense, as well and I think he's got a tremendous upside for us, very, very active football player, outstanding student, as well.
Getting close.
Raequan Williams, defensive lineman.¬† He's a guy that probably has had 50‑plus offers, top 300 player, 6‑2, 6‑3, 6‑4, 6‑5, 280 pounds, very athletic on the basketball floor and on the football field, as well.¬† Has not been playing football all that long.¬† Extremely powerful and athletic is the word that you use.¬† I guess you look at him as a larger Lawrence Thomas as we recruited LT.
But he will be a fixture here, and when you are around Rae‑Rae, he just makes everybody better around him in terms of what he does, in terms of the intangibles, the way he brings forth effort from people and the way he works.¬† When I saw him working on the basketball court, and they have an outstanding basketball team up at DePaul Catholic, the way he worked with his coach was very, very impressive.¬† He did beat me in Pig, okay.
Cassius Peat, late add here, made the decision today.¬† Big‑time player.¬† Came down to obviously some very, very big programs throughout this country.¬† Very active player.¬† Shows power, plays on a basketball team, as well, Corona. ¬†Is an outstanding basketball team.¬† I think they may be undefeated.¬† Maybe they have lost one game, I believe, to a team from Connecticut.¬† This will be the third time maybe they have an opportunity to win the state championship, if they can roll through the playoffs.
But the big body power forward type guy, very, very athletic, shows a lot of power in everything he does.  Plays with great effort and a guy that I think could get on the field very, very early for us at defensive end.
Another top 300 prospect, his dad played with coach row shard, and also played with Coach Burton in the NFL.  So there was some relationships built along the way.  He just got that feeling as we went through that process, so very, very excited about him in joining us today as a committed player for us and he's signed, sealed.
Justice Alexander, big defensive end from Nordonia, Ohio.¬† Justice is a guy that came to camp about 6‑4 plus, 230 pounds, long jump 10‑3, vertical jump 35 inches, runs in the 4‑7 area.¬† Has a huge upside.¬† Has not been playing football that long.
        So this year he had ten sacks through his first ten games and then they went to the playoffs, all the way to the final game in the playoffs in the State of Ohio and at that point in time he had 22 sacks.  He's had 12 sacks in the four playoff games.
So he got better and better and better as the season progressed, and he is a true diamond in the rough, very, very athletic, can really run, and you know, will have an opportunity to be coached here with our defensive line.
Mufi Hunt is our last guy, I believe.¬† He's a little bit different situation.¬† He committed today from another‑‑ had opportunities to go throughout areas in the west out there, from Utah.¬† Came on a visit a couple weeks ago.¬† He will go on his mission, first of all, for a two‑year mission before coming here, I guess it will be in 2017.
Again, I think that speaks volumes about what's going on here in terms of our culture.  He is an outstanding football player.  Big bodied, tremendous acceleration.  He will be mature when he comes back from his mission.  I believe that God sent him on a mission to do some great things in his life initially, and when he comes back, as he said, he will join his Spartan brothers, his Spartan brothers will be waiting here when he comes back and that completes our class.
So I'll take some questions now, and I think it's a fantastic class and maybe one of our best that we've had here.

Q.  They say national championships are won on the defensive line where you have just stockpiled the last two years with talent.  Can you talk about the foundation?
COACH DANTONIO:  Yeah, we have got guys, there's no question about that.  We have got big, athletic guys that can run.  We are bringing three more in right now immediately that can run and move.  Mufi Hunt will join us at a later point in time.
There's no question about that.  We have been very, very good on defense.  You win up front.  There's a reason we've been good because we have been able to stop the run.  I think they were No.1 in the country at stopping the run.  That's where it's got to start.
We have a group of guys from last year's class that we redshirted and we have got some guys that are seniors this year that will carry on and we've got some young guys coming that are going to put their foot in the ground immediately and they are going to be a force.¬† When you look at guys like Cassius Peat, he has the mind‑set to be able to play early.
Justice probably is a redshirt guy.  I think Williams also has the ability to play early, he's so athletic on the inside.  There's certainly always going to be a jump in terms of level of play, so the more on the edge you can play, probably the faster you play.  But I think Raequan has the ability to play outside, as well but we'll see.  All of those guys are very, very good players, I think you're correct in saying that, and we should be good for a long time there.

Q.  Is that because you can no go out there or also because you have to more in the last few years?
COACH DANTONIO:  I think the key to recruiting, recruiting great classes is being able to identify who you want, No.1.  That's No.1.  I don't care about all the rankings and everything.  But who do you want, then can you two out and get those guys.
So we have expanded; we have always looked across America for players, and now we are finding that we are able to go get those players.  Some of them are attracted for a variety of reasons.  So different players, different situations, different places.  But we have gone after most of the players we want and we have gotten most of them.  When you look at guys that you offered early in the recruiting process last year and in the spring and you've been able to get those guys, it's a great recruiting class.
The fact we don't have to rally back and comeback on guys at the end of recruiting is a very, very good sign.  And we have not had to do that.  Really, I went for a run this afternoon because I wasn't worried about anything.  No drama.  It was nice.  And that's the way our guys have done it here.  Never been a lot of drama.
They let me know when and what they have been doing.  Even in the case of Cassius Peat, I knew for quite a while that this was the direction that he was going to go, but you know, sometimes it's just for my ears only and that's the way we've tried to handle it.

Q.¬† You talked about your top two recruits, Cook and Calhoun‑‑ you talk about not carrying so much about the rankings but you do seem to have a higher middle in terms of where kids are ranked.¬† What's the value of that?
COACH DANTONIO:  What's happening now is we are not sneaking up on anybody, whether it's on the field or in recruiting.  When Michigan State offers a guy, the immediate thing is, let's go see what that guy has got.  We are not sneaking up on anybody any more and with that come some stars I guess.  We identify players, everybody is out there working hard, very hard, across this country.
We have identified players and we have done a nice job in terms of the relationships that we built and we have a great product to sell.¬† Like I said, we are not selling hope here.¬† We are selling results and that's the biggest thing.¬† People know when they come here, they are going to have an opportunity to be an All‑American.¬† I believe we have had eight, six or eight, I can't remember ‑‑ I know there's a difference.
We have got guys going to the NFL.  We have six guys going to the Combine this year.  We have got guys catching a lot of balls.  We have tailbacks that run for a lot of yards here.  We have given them the ball a lot.  We have got guys.  And people are coming here because the results they have seen that have happened with others and I think that's the biggest thing.  It's attracting a high quality of person and it's attracting a high quality of player, and I think there's a correlation in winning between the two.

Q.  Going back to the no drama today, you get everything in by 12:30, all the letters, no surprises and you see it go the other way, too.  Is this the ideal signing day for you?
COACH DANTONIO:  Yeah it was pretty good.  Mufi Hunt made a decision late in the process, because he had not made up his mind because he actually visited last week at three places.  He went from us to another place to another place.  So we waited on that one.  That was a little bit of an unusual situation, as I said because he's looking down the road and he's looking into the future.  He had some decisions to make about his future.  But I'm really excited about him coming here.
But yeah, I was here, one time I think we waited for a half hour for some guy to get to the fax machine and push the numbers.  So no drama.  We had our first winter workout yesterday and you know, as I said to our football team, 95 percent of who we are next year are right in this room right now.  So we got out ahead of everybody and that's the way it should be.  So we will continue to get out ahead.

Q.  You have strong relationships with coaches in Ohio and Michigan.  In your first few years you were focusing on that area.  Now that you are expanding across the nation, how hard is it to have relationships with coaches to identify the kids?
COACH DANTONIO:¬† Away from here?¬† A lot of our coaches have coached elsewhere.¬† They have been in ‑‑ Brad Salem has been in ‑‑ we have recruited Arizona for the last eight years, five years, six years since Brad has been here.¬† He has connections down there.¬† There's a lot of people that are from the Big Ten down there.
So we have a name in that area.  So we are just seeing the fruition.  Things come to fruition in terms of all the work that he's done down there.  And then you've got some different relationships like Coach Burton with the Peat family and also Brad is a quarterback coach and he has formed great relationships over time.  So we are seeing that in different areas, in different areas, as well.

Q.¬† Willis comes to you guys on the defensive side of the ball‑‑ inaudible‑‑ do you potentially see him on offense one day in the future?
COACH DANTONIO:  I think we tend to take players here and move them to wherever they are going to get on the field the fastest.  I don't think there's any question that he could play at tailback but we didn't recruit him at tailback.  We recruited him to be a safety.
I look at Isaiah Lewis since he's departed and I see the value that a guy like that brings to our football team and I think he can be that kind of guy.¬† He's got great ball skills, he's extremely active and a very tough‑minded guy.¬† As I said earlier, I think he's got great tackling ability.¬† There's a lot of positions that he'll play but he'll end up playing first and foremost in the secondary and then on special teams right off the bat.
But hey, you never say never, because you know how injuries can be in those type of things.  But he's an electric football player, there's no question about that.  You see that on the basketball court, as well.  You see a sudden change of direction and his power.

Q.¬† Clarifying on Martinez, because he was previously in the Big Ten‑‑
COACH DANTONIO:  Big Ten rule.

Q.  Is there an appeal?
COACH DANTONIO:  There's an appeal.  There's due process.  So we have got to get it out there.

Q.¬† Compliance about trying to appeal that‑‑
COACH DANTONIO:  Get the rule changed or whatever we have got to do.  I think when a young man has played someplace, and he'd gotten sick and lost 35 pounds and he leaves and goes back home, and he spends a year in residence at a junior college and his grades are all in order and he's going to transfer and graduate and fulfill all the requirements, I think he should be able to play.
So that's the direction we'll go with that and see what happens.  But I think we need to make it public and we need to get people working in that direction.  I don't think there's anything wrong with that.  Everybody's got some public opinion.  Throw it out there.

Q.  And real fast on Mufi, his scholarship starts now or starts when he gets there in 2017?
COACH DANTONIO:¬† His scholarship will start when he gets here.¬† He'll still have five years.¬† You're on a five‑year clack once you start college.¬† He'll go on his mission in June.¬† You know, you have a lot of respect for what he's doing and he'll come out of there a man with man experiences.
So it will be interesting to see how he transitions to Michigan State.¬† But he's all in and we're very, very excited with him and for him and his family.¬† And it will be interesting how we stay in contact with him throughout the process, as well, because it will all be through e‑mail because there cannot be any conversations taking place.¬† This will be all through e‑mail.¬† But true testament to what he's trying to do.

Q.  It almost seems like there's kids who commit, seems like now you have to get parents to commit, too.  I know you've been, I don't want to say stringent, but when a guy commits to you, it usually lasts.  Now we are hearing instances of parents waffling.  What challenge does that present and how do you deal with it and what is your hard and fast rule is a kid is committed to you?  Do you care if he visits other schools?
COACH DANTONIO:  I think first of all, these decisions are very difficult for young people to make, and the decisions should be made within their family, okay, because that's their circle of trust.
So sometimes you get out in front of yourself maybe sometimes but if you want to do something, and it's in your heart, that will be maintained.  And that's the guys who we have recruited.
We have asked them to not visit places and things of that nature but we really didn't have to ask any‑‑ we are not pulling teeth out there.¬† People are making decisions and staying with their decisions based on the relationships that have been formed here, and what they see as their future.
But these are family decisions and that's recruiting.  Not going to get upset about it.  You just sort of move with it, I guess, try and be flexible, especially at the early stages of recruiting.

Q.  Talking to an Ohio coach, I know you don't like to single out any of your assistants.  He talked about when you or Jim Bollman walk into any Ohio high school, you can talk to any kid because of the level respect you have.  Would you talk about him being a weapon in Ohio?
COACH DANTONIO:  Yeah, he's been in Ohio for a long, long time, having been the offensive coordinator there for Coach Tressel.  He knows everybody throughout that entire northeast corridor and really everywhere throughout the state.
So he's invaluable in that respect and what he does, when he goes in, he's honest. ¬†He's very forthcoming, very direct.¬† He's not pulling any punches.¬† He's not fast‑talking anybody.¬† It's this is who we are, this is what we respect and you know, that's what people get.¬† When they come to Michigan State, that's what they get.¬† They get a direct, this is who we are, this is what we do, this is how it is.¬† And they make decisions and usually when they make decisions, their decisions are pretty direct, as well.
You need to surround yourself to be successful, I feel you need to surround yourself with like‑minded people and that's what we have got coming here.¬† That's the way our football team is.¬† It's very businesslike‑‑ not having parades around here.¬† You don't see any floats riding down the street.¬† We don't have a float riding down the street every three or four years.¬† We are just staying the course.¬† That's what we do.
So that's the approach we have taken and we have been successful with that and that's the approach Bolls takes and he's extremely forthcoming and he's going to look for that needle in the hey stack, as well.  You have to do those type of things as a recruiter but when you've been recruiting for that long of time, when you have not broken trust with people, that's what happens.  When you break trust with people along the way, bad things tend to follow.  But when you don't break trust, good things follow and I think that's what he's done there and that's really hopefully what all of our coaches are doing.

Q.¬† Inaudible ‑‑ is that a precedent you can point to‑‑
COACH DANTONIO:  It could be.  But that's why we have reporters and that's why we have Twitter and all this kind of stuff.  We can go.
But I think there's a lot of different situations that have occurred like that.  Cam Newton has gone from Florida, sat out, went directly to a junior college and played, I believe.  But you know, we'll research that.  But I just think it's worth bringing up.

Q.  Are you hoping they don't keep looking elsewhere?  And guys are maybe decommitting more than they used to.  Have you changed on how you look at other guys who have committed other places in the last few years?  Is that something different?
COACH DANTONIO:  Well, I think that what we have tended to do is if we have offered them scholarships and they have committed, we have left them alone.  If we have not offered them initially and they were going elsewhere, we may offer scholarship and see what their feel is.
Much like a new coach getting in, you have new options now and the opportunity to reconsider new options is something a little bit different than actively recruiting a guy throughout the entire process.
I think what we do is we check with people to see if they still feel the same way but we don't want to step over the line and you know, but people are‑‑ I know that people are actively recruiting until the very end.¬† I think we are just trying to do it‑‑ to do it with the athlete and the family and the high school institution in mind, not cross the line.
But I think when you do offer somebody you have not offered before, then they have an opportunity to explore that opportunity.  I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Q.  The three recruits from Texas committed prior to the Cotton Bowl.  How were you received in those high schools since the Cotton Bowl and do you foresee that state remaining strong?
COACH DANTONIO:  Yeah, I think everybody was great when we because we were with their players, and again, we established some trust there with those people.  But you know it doesn't hurt to go down there and win in the Cotton Bowl and everybody in the state is watching it and is a part of that.
So we have got some Green down there.  We always have.  It's got a large Michigan State Alumni Association in Houston, in Dallas, and we're well represented down there.
It was very, very good.  One young man didn't have a coach because they were in transition.  Another young man had an entire school behind him but his family was from up here and another young man, we went down to visit and he didn't have school that day.  But very well received in the high school and in every respect.

Q.  You mentioned LJ Scott and all the people knocking on his door late in the process.  What does that do for the perception of this program that he stuck with you guys?
COACH DANTONIO:¬† I think it has to do with him, with him.¬† There's a lot of high‑profile programs that are knocking on people's doors or retaining their commitments.¬† I think it speaks to him, the fact that he didn't take a visit, the fact that he didn't go on an unofficial visit, and you know, he committed early in the process, I think it was in July, I believe.
So he just stayed the course.  I think the other thing is, we played this year, we win 11 football games, we lost two games and those two games were difficult.  They were difficult because we had to respond to them.
So he saw us at our worse and the still maintained basically his commitment, and I think that speaks volumes towards his character as a person and I think you win with character.

Q.  You mentioned your jog and not having to stress about the press conference.  What did you think about?  Did you reflect on how nice it was or are you already spinning forward into spring football?
COACH DANTONIO:¬† I was thinking about today.¬† I was thinking a little bit about cut‑ups and I was thinking about spring ball.¬† You get tired, all things spinning through your mind.
But I just think that there's a great day‑‑ it was not a lot of drama like I said and it was just very on time, the way things came in today was very much on time, nothing that we didn't expect.
Everybody I talked to last night and I think I talked to every young man last night or left a message for them; that everybody was‑‑ this is why we are doing this, this is what's going on. ¬†They were very informative and things went right as planned.
So it was a great day, and it was a great day for Michigan State.  I think it was on outstanding day for Michigan State and it speaks to the future that continues to be built here and the direction that this program is going.

Q.¬† According to NCAA rules, you have a 40‑hour window‑‑ were you able to start with any 2016 calls today?
COACH DANTONIO:  No, we did not.  They have to call us.  People have called us but we are not calling.  We can't call any individual.  But they have called us today.  I think it's sort of natural that, you know, there's two ships passing in the night there.
So it's time to get on with it.¬† There is no‑‑ I've always said, I think I've come in here the last eight years, it's like Chinese New Year, we're having New Year's now.¬† Everything starts again.¬† Recruiting starts again.¬† It's already been going.¬† Here comes winter workouts, spring ball, here is a little vacation time.¬† Here is time to redirect yourself, critique yourself, get Coach Schneider on board, get him used to our players and our system.
So there's so many different things that are going on here but it's sort of like our new year now and this is really the result of 2014, the season, the recruiting and it's a good time here at Michigan State.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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