The Michigan State Spartans lost a lot last week... a heck of a lot.
After their slim 17-16 victory over the TCU Horned Frogs in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, the Spartans learned that all three eligible star juniors in DE William Gholston, TE Dion Sims. and RB Le'Veon Bell, would forgo their senior year at MSU to participate in the 2013 NFL Draft. It was a tough pill to swallow, but now, the task of looking on into the future is at hand. On Friday, the team set its targets on hosting the 2014 class of new, top prospects.
Headlining the prospects are Toledo Catholic Central quarterback DeShone Kizer and Southfield defensive end Lawrence Marshall; both of whom could help to address some immediate needs within the Spartans' lackluster roster.
With current starting QB Andrew Maxwell's spot in jeopardy after a poor performance and being benched in the bowl game, the position under center could likely go to back up Connor Cook, who performed quite well when inserted haphazardly into the lineup. Then again, the spot could still belong to Maxwell; or perhaps, neither (but probably not).
The injection of more talent on the roster at quarterback only ramps up the competition level and, in turn, will produce the best-possible candidate to fill the role, come the start of the regular season. Once Maxwell graduates after next season, it's surely going to be an open hunt.
As for Marshall, the defensive end finds himself in high-demand after months of recruiting by MSU, U of M, and Ohio State. The talented, young player has been to East Lansing a number of times to visit the campus and get a feel for head coach Mark Dantonio's program, but has yet to announce his intentions.
When it comes to the Michigan State offensive line that struggled with injuries and poor performances last year, offensive lineman Nathaniel Devers of Massillon (Ohio) Washington could present a fresh face for the Spartans that so mightily-need to inject some talent along the front lines to protect their player under center.
Josh Helmholdt, an analyst for Rivals.com, spoke of Devers a few months ago concerning his playing style.
"Listed at 6-feet-5 and 273 pounds, Devers is not quite that tall," Helmholdt reported. "He is plenty big enough to play the guard spot in college, though. Over the summer, we were able to see Devers' athleticism, but in Saturday's game he simply played a near-flawless game of football.
"He is better blocking down than setting up in pass pro at this stage of his career, but Devers can keep his quarterback clean and pave holes for running backs."
For now, the Spartans have to keep their hopes high that all is not lost after three of their top talents have decided to move on to the professional level. Sights must now be turned to the 2013 season and the slew of 2014 recruits that look to shape the program's coming future.
You can follow MSU Examiner, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.