Recently-hired executive director of player personnel and recruiting Mark Diethorn is quickly getting up-to-speed with the program. Diethorn is learning the Spartans’ recruiting boards, official visit schedule and transfer portal movement, all while hiring the remainder of his staff.
Quarterback is arguably the most important position on the field. Michigan State’s quarterback recruiting board endured a hard reset following four-star Jake Merklinger’s committment to Tennessee on March 30. Merklinger made six unofficial visits to East Lansing prior to announcing his decision.
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jay Johnson does have the luxury of taking his time and evaluating multiple under-the-radar 2024 recruits, however. The Spartans have added four-star signal callers Katin Houser and Sam Leavitt in back-to-back classes, which allows Michigan State to take more of a gamble on a underrated recruit.
Johnson, who is aided by offensive assistant Jake Reiling, has a record of finding off-the-radar prospects with a good eye for talent. Through evaluation, Johnson and the staff found Houser, who, at the time, was a Boise State commit. Houser proceeded to light it up at the Elite 11 camp, raising his stock substantially after the Spartans’ offer. Additionally, Johnson offered Leavitt prior to his massive rise up the 2023 On3 rankings.
Other examples of Johnson’s propensity to find unknown talents include being the first to offer former five-star Oklahoma signee Jackson Arnold. Michigan State also offered 2024 Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove QB Tyler Cherry, who received a fourth-star from On3 shortly after the offer on April 1. We will circle back to Cherry momentarily.
Michigan State’s 2024 quarterback recruiting board
The current board is subject to change as the Spartans’ staff identify new offers. Recruitments are also very fluid, so the three names we are looking at today might change by the end of the month. However, with June just around the corner, Michigan State is looking to bring quarterbacks to campus for official visits.
Three-star Maealiuaki Smith, Sacramento (Calif.) Junipero Serra
Michigan State and Johnson are no strangers to west coast quarterbacks. As mentioned above, the Spartans recently signed Houser and Leavitt, who are from California and Oregon, respectively. Smith, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound gunslinger, received an offer from Michigan State back in September 2022. The Spartans began turning up the heat on Smith in April. Smith’s official visit plans are not yet public, but Michigan State is likely in contention to receive one from the three-star.
Smith holds additional offers from Utah, BYU, Florida State, Miami (FL), Washington and more.
Four-star Tyler Cherry, Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove
Michigan State has a chance to host the reigning IHSAA Class 6A State Champion for an official visit. Cherry recently told SpartanMag.com that he would likely announce his commitment in May, prior to official visits. If that’s the case, Indiana is the presumed favorite to land the 6-foot-5, 210-pound quarterback. The On3 Recruiting Prediction Machine gives the Hoosiers a 97.4 percent chance to land Cherry.
Miles O’Neill, Marblehead (Mass.) The Hun School
The unranked quarterback is the newest addition to the Michigan State recruiting board. Johnson and Reiling extended an offer to the Marblehead, Mass., recruit on Monday. Just hours later, Virginia joined the fold, extending its own offer. The 6-foot-4, 218-pound quarterback has a strong arm and quick feet.
O’Neill holds additional offers from UConn, Princeton and Temple, among others. Based on Johnson’s history of finding under-the-radar recruits, could O’Neill be the next one added to the growing list? Only time will tell, but the Spartans will look to host O’Neill in June.
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