When Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio presents media with brief film footage of players from the Spartans' 2012 recruiting class during today's Signing Day press conference, there might not be any player on the list with better highlights than wide receiver signee Monty Madaris of Cincinnati Moeller.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Madaris can exhibit the entire checklist of receiver requirements in a few short clips from his 2011 season in which he had 56 catches for 1,137 yards with 16 TDs for Moeller, a perennial high school power.
But Madaris' ability to make the tough catch deep or over the middle, and accelerate with power and grace after the catch aren't even his best attributes, according to his high school coach.
"Probably the best part to his game is his blocking ability," said Moeller head coach John Rodenberg.. "He has excellent size and he is physical. He is a true blue Big Ten receiver. He is going to get in there and be bigger than most of the DBs he goes against, there is going to be a mismatch."
Madaris committed to Michigan State over Cincinnati on Sunday night. He had scholarship offers earlier from Michigan and Florida State. Those schools filled up their scholarship slots while Madaris took his time to narrow things down.
Although he had serious interest and invitations from Michigan and Florida State, Madaris never took them up on offers to come to their campuses for official visits.
In fact, Madaris rarely spoke with reporters during his recruiting process and took a below-the-radar approach to picking a school.
"He doesn't answer phone calls for things like that," Rodenberg said. "He is not into all the hoopla and I think that's something that Michigan State liked about him. They like that he is a good kid, he works hard, is very pleasant, very outgoing. He is a very humble kid."
He gave serious consideration to staying close to home and choose Cincinnati over the likes of MSU, Michigan and Florida State.
"I think he just had a hard time making his mind up," Rodenberg said. "But it was always Michigan State and UC down to the last couple of weeks. Earlier, Florida State, Michigan, Nebraska offered. He had quite a few offers. But really it was Michigan State, Cincinnati and Michigan a little bit and Kentucky. He had semi interest in Ohio State but they didn't have any interest in him. But he didn't look at a lot of schools."
Moeller is described by some as the best pure wide receiver in the state of Ohio this year. He was named the Cincinnati area player of the year by the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Madaris camped at MSU in July and showed the ability to go deep with breakaway speed, yet also the fine footwork to stop on a dime and separate in the short area on curls, stops and 7-yard comeback routes.
"Coming out of Moeller, he has been coached very well by some great coaches on our staff," Rodenberg said. "He works hard. He worked hard to get stronger in the weight room. He is such a humble guy; he doesn't take anything for granted. He puts the time in, so everything he is getting here is well-earned."
Madaris is ranked the No. 21 player in Ohio by Rivals.com.
"I've had some big-time quarterbacks and defensive players, but he is the first wide receiver that I have had that has had these attributes in terms of being big, physical, can catch the ball and run," Rodenberg said. "I don't know whether he will come in and play right away as a freshman in the Big Ten, but physically he is ready to play. He is a little bit beyond his age when it comes to being physical with most kids at his position.
"He is not always about catching the ball. He likes being physical, likes to block in games or practice, likes playing the game."
Big and strong with excellent hands, body control and acceleration, Madaris is built along the same lines as 2008 NFL Draft pick Devin Thomas and fellow Ohioan B.J. Cunningham, who became MSU's all-time leading receiver in 2012.
"We got the ball in his hands anywhere, as a running back, a receiver, deep or short," Rodenberg said. "Get it to him and he made things happen."
Madaris can snag the high one out of the sky, or he can catch a shallow crossing route and make good players from good high school teams miss. Give him a little room and he can accelerate.
"He was one of those deals where he was kind of a human highlight," Rodenberg said. "When we needed yards, when we needed to make something happen we found a way to get him the ball."
Rodenberg serves as Moeller's defensive play caller and usually delegates the offense to a coordinator.
"But there was one time when I told my offensive coordinator, 'Do we have the reverse in for Monty?'
"He said yeah.
"I said, 'Run it.'
"He kind of looked at me and said, 'Well, you're the head coach.' So he ran it and Monty scored a touchdown off of it. I knew he could get things done and we knew what he was capable of doing."
MSU defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett, a Cincinnati native, served as Madaris' primary recruiter.
"I think he (Madaris) is excited to be committed and ready to sign," Rodenberg said." I think he is relieved its over-with. I think he is looking forward to getting back to being a normal student. He has a lot of buddies and he wants to get back to normal a little bit."
Madaris began showing major-conference ability as a sophomore at Moeller in 2009.
"We knew he was going to be special," Rodenberg said. "We had a quarterback who went to Notre Dame (Andrew Hendrix) and Monty could catch his passes, and we knew he would be a big-time player and you may see him on Sundays some day."
That's where former Moeller and MSU standout Greg Jones will be this weekend when he plays for the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.
Jones signed with MSU as part of Mark Dantonio's first recruiting class in February of 2007.
Rodenberg, who is entering his fifth year as head coach at Moeller, did not coach Jones in high school. But Rodenberg did coach current Spartan defensive end Marcus Rush, who earned Freshman All-America honors at MSU in 2011.
"I thought Marcus would have the success he is having," Rodenberg said. "He will continue to have that success. He is in a great fit, a great school. He loves it up there."
The success enjoyed by Jones and Rush probably made it that much more inviting for Madaris to opt for MSU, Rodenberg said.
"I'm sure it did," Rodenberg said. "He has never said anything about it specifically but I know seeing Marcus up there and I know he gets along with Marcus. It seems like Michigan State does a great job recruiting and our guys are doing well and that's the only thing I'm concerned about."
Terrific WR Class
Madaris rounds out a wide receivers class that is the best in the Big Ten for 2012, joining Aaron Burbridge a Top 100 recruit ranked the No. 1 player in Michigan, Florida three-star slot receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr. and mid-year enrollee Kyle Kerrick, the tallest receiver of the bunch at 6-3. Kerrick, of Coatesville, Pa., is ranked the No. 27 player in Pennsylvania and has been selected to play in the Big 33 Classic against Team Ohio. MSU also accepted a transfer from DeAnthony Arnett a former Top 100 recruit out of Saginaw who had 24 catches as a true freshman at Tennessee last year.
Madaris, Burbridge, Arnett, Kings and Kerrick represent MSU's successful campaign to reload at the WR position after the graduation of Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nichol this year. Kerrick also has the ability to play defensive back.
Moeller Prospects For 2013
MSU is already taking a look at three Division I prospects who will be seniors at Moeller next fall: offensive lineman Alex Gall, linebacker Shane Jones and tailback/DB Keith Washington.
Rodenberg on Gall (6-5, 295): "Very physical. He has been rated as one of the top linemen in the state of Ohio for next year. He recently got an offer from Kentucky."
On Jones (6-1, 220): "Speed. Quick. Good instincts for the ball. Big hitter. Good speed. Would be a good outside linebacker; can cover."
On Washington (6-1, 170): "Lock down corner. Tailback/slot back type of kid. He has a lot of moves, a lot of speed. Excellent ball player. He has a UC (University of Cincinnati) offer.
"I expect all of them to get more offers in a couple of weeks."
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