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FOOTBALL SIGNING DAY: MSU In-State Recruiting Report

By: Jeff Dullack, February 6, 2014, 8:00 am
Malik McDowell was the prize that Michigan State was without a doubt jumping for joy to see added to it’s list of pledges on National Signing Day Wednesday.
The 6-foot-7, 300-pound Southfield defensive lineman is a 5-star recruit and the marquee name on the list of Spartan commitments. He chose MSU over Michigan, Ohio State and Florida State, the three other schools he named in his top four.
Despite McDowell’s announcement Wednesday that he will soon be becoming a Spartan, he has yet to send in his Letter of Intent to the Michigan State football office (due to a conflict with his mom over his choice), although he is expected to do so in the near future.
However, McDowell isn’t the only in-state name the Spartans gathered for their 2014 recruiting class.
Michigan State watched Letters of Intent pour in from Clarkston defensive tackle David Beedle, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s defensive back Jalen Watts-Jackson, Cass Tech linebacker Deon Drake, Traverse City St. Francis linebacker Byron Bullough, Berrien Springs offensive lineman Nick Padla and Rochester Adams tight end Matt Sokol.
Together they solidify another strong in-state recruiting class for the Spartans and their head coach, Mark Dantonio, fresh off taking the program to its first Big Ten and Rose Bowl title in 26 years.
The most familiar name on the list of signees for Michigan State is likely Bullough, who comes from a long line of former Spartan standouts. He is the younger brother of linebackers Max, who was also a captain this past fall and will be graduating in May, and Riley and is the son and grandson of former linebacker-greats that played on the gridiron in the Green and White.
Bullough is listed as a 3-star linebacker and gave his verbal commitment to the Spartans back in 2012.
Another linebacker that committed in 2012 was, Deon Drake another 3-star standout from Detroit Cass Tech, where he helped lead the Technicians to back-to-back state titles as a sophomore and junior, respectively. Proving to be one of the surest tacklers in the area over the last three years, Drake chose MSU in favor of other elite scholarship offers from a number of rival Big 10 schools as well as Notre Dame.
Someone who could be playing alongside McDowell on the defensive line in the future is Beedle, who helped lead Clarkston to its first ever state championship in the fall.  Racking up 40 tackles and three sacks, Beedle was his club’s main run-stuffer, anchoring Clarkston in the trenches.
After serving as a disruptive force in the secondary in high school, Watts-Jackson will look to do more of the same in East Lansing. He’s proved to be a shutdown corner the past three years, blanketing several of the top receivers in the area in one-on-one showdowns. As a senior, Watts-Jackson tallied six interceptions and had 40 tackles in the secondary. When he was a sophomore, he won a state title and as a junior captured a Catholic League crown and made a return trip with the Eaglets to Ford Field and the Division 3 state finals.
Michigan State also found some in-state help to add to the offensive side of the ball with Padla and Sokol.
Padla, an offensive tackle could help give stability to the offensive line down the road for the Spartans, using his 6-6 frame and Sokol has a chance to be a significant receiving threat for the Green and White for years to come. In high school, Sokol was an all-league quarterback, but his sturdy 6-foot-5 frame convinced college coaches he would be better suited catching the ball than throwing it.
With the seven in-state names, Michigan State registered another year where it recruited well in its own back yard, a big reason why the Spartans’ class is considered Top 25 in the nation.