Skip to main content

Jonathan Smith calls NIL a 'piece of the pie' in recruiting

On3 imageby:Andrew Graham06/29/24


Amidst an offseason of major changes around college football, Jonathan Smith and his staff in East Lansing have been undergoing one of the bigger roster transformations in college football. And that means Smith and Co. also need to hit the recruiting trail — for high schoolers and transfers — hard.

In the new world of recruiting that, of course, means NIL is necessary part of the discussion. But only just a part, Smith said to reporters at the Sound Mind Sound Body showcase camp recently.

“There’s definitely a difference,” Smith said of recruiting at Michigan State. “It still starts with the evaluation process and beyond. I think that’s a piece of the pie. What we’re looking for is guys that it is a piece of the pie as they’re considering their options, but then there’s the education, the scheme, the staff, the fit, the area, all those are pieces of the pie.”

With dozens of transfers each way this offseason, Michigan State saw some of the highest levels of roster turnover of any team, and evidently Smith wasn’t making pitches solely based on the checks the players would be chasing.

And so far on the high school recruiting trail, it’s been a slow build for Smith and Co. He signed the No. 43 class — mostly recruited by previous head coach Mel Tucker — in the 2024 cycle and the Spartans commits currently comprise the No. 49 ranked class for the 2025 cycle, according to the On3 Industry Rankings. In the 2025 class, Smith has yet to land a commit from a Top 300 player.

Smith is excited for the rivalry with Michigan

is eager for the in-state rivalry with Michigan, despite not coaching a game for the Spartans yet.

Then again, it’s not hard to get up for that game after the Wolverines owned the college football world last season. But Smith might be the guy to bring Michigan State back to the forefront of highly competitive Big Ten football and the College Football Playoff.

But you have to beat the kings of the state, which right now, is Michigan.

“Love being a part of a rivalry in this state that’s passionate on both sides of it,” Smith said. “Looking forward to being a big part of it.”

To beat a team like Michigan, the former Oregon State head coach will have to rebuild the Spartans. There was a brief peak under former coach Mel Tucker, which included an 11-win campaign.

But it quickly fell apart. Smith spoke about the work within their program during his postgame press conference after their Spring Showcase in mid-April. 

He explained how every coach enjoys the development aspect of their team, both individually and collectively. That’s then even better for the staff when the players themselves are also all in on that effort.

“Yeah, I will say I think that’s why you coach is you enjoy improvement and the process that takes,” Smith said. “We’ve got a long way to go. I enjoy, this coaching staff enjoys that process of improvement and development. Especially working with a group – these guys like football. They like being around it, they like practicing, they like studying it.”