In case you haven't been paying attention, Sparty has set up camp in Chicagoland.
One of the biggest national college football recruiting stories so far this summer has been how Michigan State has invaded the Windy City.
Over the past month, Michigan State and head coach Mark Dantonio have added verbal commitments from five Chicagoland Class of 2016 recruits, including four top 15 state-ranked players.
In February, the Spartans added Hinsdale Central’s three star-ranked offensive center Matt Allen. Within the last few weeks, they also added three star-ranked Fremd safety Kenney Lyke and Hinsdale South’s four star-ranked defensive end Josh King. And on Monday, the Spartans added three-star ranked Mike Panasiuk and Evanston's four-star ranked Naquan Jones, both of whom are the top two in-state defensive tackles.
So how has Michigan State cleaned up so far in Chicagoland?
"They are starting to capitalize in recruiting from the on the field success," according to Rivals.com Midwest Recruiting Expert, Josh Helmholdt. "That, along with a combination of old school recruiting, hard work plus a new understanding of how to approach kids, coaches and parents is another big factor."
One of the biggest additions to Michigan State’s staff over the past two years has been Curtis Blackwell. Blackwell, who is the Spartans Director of College Advancement and Performance has a deep background in working with players and parents. He was a high school coach before becoming co-director of the Sound Mind Sound Body Football Academy out of Detroit.
"Adding (Curtis) to the staff gives Michigan State a new perspective and a much better understanding of how to relate to kids and parents. He's been working on the other side of the process and brings a new approach. He understands kids, parents and high school coaches extremely well."
But the Spartans have also worked hard at building one-on-one relationships with its top recruits, something that has been a mainstay for Dantonio and his staff during his tenure. Seldom (if ever) will you see Michigan State extend an early scholarship offer, unless the prospect visits the East Lansing camps.
"Michigan State coaches are genuinely down to earth guys who believe in getting to know the prospects and building up that relationship and trust," Helmholdt added. "Coach Dantonio will visit schools in person and talk several times one-on-one with his recruits. That old-school recruiting style and approach still makes a very strong impression with kids and the parents."
Yet, there's still another factor. Momentum.
The Spartans went from having one verbal commitment in mid-April to now having 14 known commitments. The Michigan State Class of 2016 is currently the fourth best recruiting class in the country, according to the latest Rivals.com team recruiting rankings.
Michigan State started off its recruiting push when Wayne High (Huber Heights, OH) four star-ranked quarterback, Messiah deWeaver (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) pledged to the Spartans. Since his commitment, deWeaver has been a valuable recruiter for the school.
"(Messiah) deWeaver has been a dynamic recruiter and communicator for Michigan State. He really started it off and he's a terrific kid and communicator. Kids talk and that momentum in Illinois started with someone like Kenney Lyke. Kids want to play with other talented guys and once they get together and talk, that momentum is huge."
The hype for this so-called recruiting “Dream Team” is there. But how will all of this play out on the football field? Time will tell. But one thing is certain these days on the ‘recruiting’ field: it's a pretty good time to be a Michigan State Spartans fan.