Mark Dantonio continues to dominate the state of Illinois.
Just one thing, he coaches in Michigan.
The Michigan State head coach made his latest big recruiting splash Friday, picking up a commitment from the Land of Lincoln's highest-rated player in the Class of 2016, Hinsdale South defensive end Josh King.
This after the Spartans coaxed the No. 2 ranked prospect in the Class of 2015 to head to East Lansing. That was another defensive end, DePaul College Prep's Raequan Williams.
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It's terrific work by Michigan State, but if you're a fan of Illinois or Northwestern, you're not very happy at all.
In-state kids aren't sticking around to play for the Illini or the Wildcats, at least not on a consistent basis. Yes, Northwestern had a great Class of 2014 that featured Glenbard North running back Justin Jackson, Bolingbrook defensive back Parrker Westphal and Wheaton North quarterback Clayton Thorson. Illinois had a strong Class of 2015 when it came to in-state recruiting, bringing in Jacksonville offensive lineman Gabe Megginson, DeKalb running back Dre Brown and Hales Franciscan defensive back Patrick Nelson. among others.
But those years have been anomalies when it comes to keeping Illinois kids in state.
Since 2010, Illinois and Northwestern have recruited the most top-20 recruits out of the state of Illinois, at 16 and 14, respectively. But that's to be expected. What the scary part is for those two programs is that their combined hauls made up just 23 percent of those 128 top-20 in-state recruits (many Class of 2016'ers have yet to make their college choice).
Nine other Big Ten programs — Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin — accounted for 52 of those recruits, or 40 percent of all top-20 Illinois recruits since 2010. The SEC, a much greater distance away and always stockpiling its impressive rosters with the loads of high school football talent from the South, has commanded 28 top-20 recruits from the state of Illinois in the past seven recruiting cycles, which is just barely fewer than the two biggest programs in the state combined.
Six of the top seven kids in the Class of 2016 have committed, and they've all committed to Big Ten schools. But just one, O'Fallon running back Kentrail Moran, has decided to stay in state. Moran's going to Illinois. The other five will play for Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio State. So it's not that Illinois kids necessarily want to move far away to California, Texas or the South. They just would rather play for the winners right here in the Midwest.
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Winning is a pretty attractive selling point. It's something Dantonio has done an awful lot of in recent years. Michigan State has won at least 11 games in four of the last five seasons and won four straight bowl games. The Spartans won a Big Ten title two seasons ago and have won back-to-back big-time bowl games, the 2014 Rose Bowl and the 2015 Cotton Bowl.
Illinois and Northwestern, putting it plainly, have not done that.
But while Dantonio has certainly taken advantage of that fact, he's far from the only one. Gary Pinkel has been to back-to-back SEC Championship Games at Missouri. Wisconsin, no matter the coach, has proven itself a consistent Big Ten contender. Urban Meyer just won a national championship at Ohio State. Notre Dame is Notre Dame. The SEC is the SEC.
It's no secret on how to keep kids in state. The state's biggest programs have to win on a consistent basis. Until they do, out-of-state coaches like Dantonio will keep coming in and scooping up the state's best talent.