EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Nearly two months after national signing day, defensive lineman Malik McDowell is officially a Spartan.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said he received McDowell's faxed letter of intent Tuesday night, ending days of speculation and drama.
"I'm happy that it's resolved," Dantonio said Wednesday.
McDowell announced his commitment to the Spartans on national signing day during a press conference at Southfield (Mich.) High but never faxed his letter of intent, which must be signed by a legal guardian. McDowell's mother, Joya Crowe, told several media outlets in the weeks following national signing day she did not want her son to attend Michigan State.
"I knew the family had concerns. They are legitimate concerns," Dantonio said. "What we had to do is, we had to be able to work through the process until everybody felt comfortable with this."
The 6-foot-6, 292-pound prospect was ranked the No. 1 in-state player by Rivals and 247Sports in the 2014 recruiting class. McDowell played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio and picked the Spartans over teams including Michigan, Ohio State and Florida State.
"The lines of communication stayed open throughout the entire process and I think, credit to his mother for doing that, because that's not easy to do," Dantonio said. "There's got to be a commitment. There certainly was a commitment that took place last night. There's got to be a commitment and we got that commitment on signing day and worked toward a resolution based on that fact."
McDowell had 89 tackles, eight sacks and three forced fumbles as a senior, earning first-team all-state honors from The Associated Press. Dantonio said he expects McDowell to contribute immediately as a true freshman next season.
"He has a unique ability. Obviously he's a big guy," Dantonio said. "His power, his speed, his athletic ability, his size are huge characteristics. But beyond that, you look at the intangibles, I think the guy's a doer."
Coming off a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl victory, Dantonio said he's never been involved in a recruitment that has gone on this long.
"You basically just try to not rock the boat too much," Dantonio said. "Be still and let the process take place. I think this is the best place for Malik McDowell."
Michigan State had the nation's top defense last season, which ended with a Rose Bowl win over Stanford. The Spartans (13-1) yielded just 159 yards in the final three quarters.
The Spartans have said goodbye to three All-Americans in cornerback Darqueze Dennard and linebackers Max Bullough and Denicos Allen. But standout defensive end Shilique Calhoun, named the Big Ten's top defensive lineman, will be back alongside McDowell.