- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Michigan State took another step forward in 2008 on the field, and the team's upcoming recruiting class should only keep the positive momentum going.
A confluence of key events -- consecutive bowl appearances, a new football facility, in-state rival Michigan bottoming out -- helped head coach Mark Dantonio and the Spartans build a class stocked with Midwest players that should address several needs on the roster.
Michigan State's biggest losses come in the offensive backfield, where All-American running back Javon Ringer and quarterback Brian Hoyer graduate. The Spartans should be fine at the quarterback spot with Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol, but they didn't develop anyone behind Ringer, and there should be an opportunity for a promising freshman to play right away.
Wide receiver wasn't the strongest position this season, and though Michigan State returns everyone, namely Mark Dell and Blair White, it could use another player who can stretch the field. The Spartans must replace the right side of their offensive line after losing Roland Martin and Jesse Miller, and they really need to build depth up front.
The defense returns nine starters for 2009, but it won't stop Dantonio from planning ahead. Linebacker depth is vital with Adam Decker heading into his senior season and superstar Greg Jones possibly entering his final year before turning pro. Safety Otis Wiley is a major loss in the defensive backfield, and Michigan State must replace two starters (end Brandon Long and tackle Justin Kershaw) on the line.
Michigan State might not play a ton of freshmen next fall, but its class should solidify depth at running back, offensive line and linebacker.