, Michigan (PressExposure) July 23, 2008 -- The 2008 season went pretty well for the Michigan State University Spartans. Coach Mark Dantonio took them to a 9-4 overall record and 6-2 in Big 10 conference play, for which they were rewarded the national rank of number 19 and with a berth in the Capitol One Bowl in Orlando, Fl, against the 16th ranked Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia beat Michigan State 24-12, but this can't completely overshadow the season the Spartans had, a season where they had a 6 game winning streak after the opening day loss to the California Golden Bears and a third place finish in the Big 10.
After two mediocre recruiting seasons, Dantonio can't hide his excitement. "Our next step is a BCS or championship-type game," Dantonio said. "I believe these players can take us to that. I firmly believe that. And others will follow." Last season's Capitol One Bowl appearance surprised the nation and this year's top 15 recruiting class has too. When it was all done they signed 23 recruits, including seven out of Ohio, two from Florida and the top recruit out of Iowa. After their in state rival, the University of Michigan Wolverines, had an uncharacteristically dismal season at 3-9 overall and 2-6 in Big 10 play, Dantonio and the Spartans were able to take advantage, cashing in on some of the state's top talent in a rich recruiting year. Running back Edwin Baker from Oak Park, Mi, who was slowed by a knee injury his senior year, is one of the in state talents Michigan State was able to get and could be a replacement for Javon Ringer. "I feel grateful to be a part of this," Baker said. "This class has a lot of great players ... and I think this is a class that can help win a national championship some day." Even with missing four games due to his knee injury, he ran 77 times for 863 yards, an 11.2-yard average, and was picked for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which he also missed due to his knee. Some other top recruits for the Spartans were offensive lineman David Barrent, West Des Moines, Ia, linebacker Chris Norman from Detroit, Mi, and quarterback Andrew Maxwell, Midland, Mi. Barrent is 6-foot-8 and 290 pounds and was rated as Iowa's top prospect and the 9th best offensive lineman prospect, and Mark Dantonio was able to nab him from both the Hawkeyes and Cyclones, the two major Iowa schools. Norman was ranked as the 6th best linebacker in the nation and was a three year starter who had 109 tackles as a senior, including 34 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Maxwell, ranked as the 9th best pro-style quarterback, could be in for an intense battle for his position as Kirk Cousins, who has three years of eligibility left, has been projected to start for the Spartans. Michigan State should have no problem continuing to put up winning seasons. With this group I expect another top 20 season out of Coach Dantonio.