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Pat Narduzzi used to excelling with average recruiting classes

Photo used with permission of the University of Pittsburgh athletics department (

When Paul Chryst arrived at Pitt, much was made of Wisconsin's success despite modest recruiting classes. While Pat Narduzzi is seen as a better recruiter, it's interesting to note that Michigan State was in a similar situation.

Narduzzi and the Michigan State coaching staff managed to lead their team to strong seasons despite not landing as many highly-touted recruits. Here is where the Spartans ranked in the years since Narduzzi arrived in 2007, according to Rivals:

2013: 40th

2012: 41st

2011: 31st

2010: 30th

2009: 17th

2008: 47th

2007: 42nd

As you might imagine with those modest rankings, five-star kids also didn't regularly pick the Spartans, either. In fact, Michigan State landed only one five-star recruit while Narduzzi was there, NFL defensive end William Gholston, who joined the team in 2010. Even in 2009 when they had a Top 20 class, Michigan State didn't secure any five-star kids.

Despite that, Michigan State has enjoyed a lot of success on the field. Here are the corresponding records the team had from those seasons:

2013: 13-1

2012: 7-6

2011: 11-3

2010: 11-2

2009: 6-7

2008: 9-4

2007: 7-6

That's an average of just over nine wins per year, even though the Spartans had only a single class in the Top 25. The 2014 class, FWIW, was ranked 22nd. But obviously, the bulk of the kids on the team this year were from previous classes.

This goes a little into what Narduzzi said in his recent interview the 93.7 FM The Fan. He'll be looking for players that are good fits - not so much the ones that are top recruits.

It's not that the Spartans haven't had great players. A guy like Le'Veon Bell, for example, was a two-star recruit for crying out loud. Bell rushed for more than 1,700 yards in his final season at Michigan State and in only his second NFL season, is one of the top running backs in the NFL and is only in his second season, league. Safe to say, he was underrated. But the point is that Michigan State has been able to identify talent even if the major recruiting services didn't acknowledge it as much.

And if you go on Michigan State's prior history in recruiting, that philosophy seems to have worked well for the Spartans.

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