Michigan State received huge news in advance of Signing Day on Monday night when four-star defensive tackle Craig Evans of Sun Prairie (Wis.) High School reversed an earlier commitment to the University of Wisconsin and instead pledged to Michigan State.
Rivals.com lists Evans as the No. 1 player in Wisconsin, No. 188 in the country and the No. 11 defensive tackle in America.
Evans made a surprise visit to Michigan State a week and a half ago, and followed it up by changing his pledge to the Spartans.
Evans made the commitment via Twitter. In the process, Evans refuted claims that he was turned away by Wisconsin due to academic questions.
Evans' high school coach says Evans has work to do in order to qualify, but he and the Spartan staff expect him to do so.
As you all may have heard I'm no longer a badger and no it's not about the academics just the best decision for me ....- solo_dolo (@craigevans18) February 4, 2014
And if your a fan of me be a fan of me despite wherever I go and with tht being said I have officially committed to MSU #GoGreenGoWhite- solo_dolo (@craigevans18) February 4, 2014
Evans is the fifth member of the Spartan recruiting class to hold four-star status in the Rivals.com database.
The commitment lifted Michigan State to No. 24 in the Rivals.com national recruiting rankings, moving the Spartans past Wisconsin (No. 32) and Michigan (No. 29). Michigan State is now No. 3 in the Big Ten recruiting rankings, behind No. 2 Ohio State and No. 20 Penn State.
Evans is the second player in the MSU class ranked as the No. 1 player in his state, joining the No. 1 player in Pennsylvania (Montae Nicholson) as a Spartan verbal. Nicholson withstood a hard charge from Penn State last week to remain with Michigan State
The Spartans hope to reel in a third player ranked No. 1 in his state on Wednesday as Michigan State continues to pursue defensive lineman Malik McDowell. McDowell is ranked the No. 26 player in the country and could become the lone five-star member of the Spartan recruiting class.
In committing to Michigan State, Evans joins offensive lineman Brian Allen, running back Madre London, Chicago defensive tackle Enoch Smith Jr. and Nicholson as four-star Spartan verbals.
The Spartans have not signed more than three Rivals.com four-star recruits in one class since 2010 (Max Bullough, Will Gholston, Isaiah Lewis, Skyler Schofner and Joe Boisture).
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With McDowell, Tampa DB/LB T.J. Harrell and Chicago offensive lineman Jamarco Jones still possibilities for the Spartans, MSU is in line to approach the 2009 class in terms of having the most nationally-ranked players in one class in the Dantonio era.
Evans, who has not been available for comment, used Twitter to express good luck to Badger commitment Conor Sheehy. Sheehy supported Evans on his decision:
@SheeDaddyDBWH thnks a lot broski gudd luck to you and the rest of the badger 2014 class still have mad respect for you guys- solo_dolo (@craigevans18) February 4, 2014
Sheehy also tweeted: "CraighEvans18 doesn't deserve the crap he's been getting. Haven't seen many guys work as hard as he has to beat the odds. Deserves the right to decide."
Evans also accepted congratulations from current Spartans, including Darqueze Dennard on Twitter.