February 9, 2007

DT Antonio Jeremiah: Statement recruit

Michigan State had trouble attracting statement recruits on the defensive side of the ball during the John L. Smith era.

But just two weeks into Mark Dantonio's tenure as head coach in East Lansing, the Spartans picked up one of the biggest commitments in recent program history when Top 250 defensive tackle Antonio Jeremiah committed to Michigan State while on an official visit Michigan State the weekend of Dec. 8.

Ranked the No. 4 prospect the in the talent-rich state of Ohio, Jeremiah is a player with the athletic ability to fight his way into the playing rotation as a true freshman. The Hilliard Darby High School star's commitment to Michigan State came on the same weekend that Michigan State moved into the Top 3 for Detroit Cass Tech star Joseph Barskdale, who will announce for Michigan State, Ohio State or LSU on January 6.

A commitment from Barksdale to go along with Jeremiah would give Michigan State one of the top defensive tackle recruiting classes in the Big Ten and nationally. But even if Barksdale does not commit to the Spartans, Michigan State will have had more success recruiting four-year defensive tackles in the 2007 recruiting class than they did during Smith's entire four year tenure at Michigan State.

Dantonio's reputation in the state of Ohio along with the academic support that Michigan State student athletes have available through the Clara Bell Smith Center were the two biggest selling points for Jeremiah.

"I really like coach Dantonio and him being at Michigan State is one of the main reasons I committed," said Jeremiah. "I knew him when he was at Cincinnati and when he moved to State, it made me want to go there."

Michigan State's former staff had recruited Jeremiah. But the Darby star did not have a positive perception of Michigan State before Dantonio's arrival.

"I wasn't looking at State because of they weren't doing well on defense," Jeremiah said. "I looked at them a little bit, but I wouldn't have taken a visit or committed with the old staff in place."

Jeremiah's mother was impressed by the academic support provided by the Smith center.

"I was impressed by the campus at Michigan State and the Smith center," said Jeremiah. "The Smith center was probably the thing that my mom liked the most about Michigan State. She was really impressed by the academic support I'd receive."

Jeremiah and his mother also felt comfortable with Dantonio and his staff.

"The coaches are great coaches, but they are also really great people," Jeremiah said. "We felt real good about all of the coaches that we met and the players made me feel at home."

Jeremiah will play in the inaugural Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Jan. 4, 2007.

Rivals.com ranks Jeremiah as the No. 13 defensive tackle in the nation. Jeremiah joins three-star Flint Carman-Ainsworth defensive tackle Ryan Wheat in a Michigan State d-line recruiting class that also includes Harmony Community School defensive tackle Oren Wilson.

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