As Spartan Nation reported over the weekend three members of the team were named to the Associated Press All-American team on Sunday, including center Jack Allen who was named to the first team. Joining Allen as All-Americans are offensive tackle Jack Conklin, who was named to the second team, and defensive end Shilique Calhoun, who was voted to the third team.


The All-American awards continue a run in recent years of Michigan State players to be given that honor. Running back Javon Ringer was named in 2008, linebacker Greg Jones took the honor in 2009 and 2010, and defensive lineman Jerel Worthy was named to the team in 2011. Finally, there’s defensive back Darqueze Dennard, who received the honors in 2013.


Just last week, quarterback Connor Cook took home the 2015 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually since 1987 to the nation’s top senior (or fourth-year junior) quarterback. Cook owns a 34-4 record as a starter, the top mark in Michigan State history.


All of this good news has arrived as Dantonio is a finalist for a number of coach of the year awards.


The football players were on hand Saturday during the school’s basketball game against Florida. The football team, along with the 2000 men’s basketball team that won the national championship, were recognized at the game for their accomplishments.


The honors come in what is turning out to be a golden age of Michigan State football. In the past 10 years, the school has gone from Big Ten nobodies, to moderately successful, to one of the nation’s elite programs. For most of its history, Michigan State has been a forgotten program. Despite small pockets of success—the Spartans went undefeated in 1951 and 1952 and then had a pair of back-to-back Big Ten championships in 1965 and 1966—the program has hid mostly in the shadow of in-state rival Michigan.


That’s especially been the case in more modern times. Outside of a Rose Bowl win in 1987, the Spartans have never been national contenders. Even under Nick Saban, regarded as the best coach in college football today, Michigan State managed four seasons with around a .500 record before a 10-2 campaign in 1999 that got Saban hired at LSU. While the Spartans are underdogs against mighty Alabama and just an 8-1 choice to win the national championship, according to last year’s college football playoff showed that anything can happen. And it also hopes to continue.


As previously reported by Spartan Nation the Spartans appear to have one of the best recruiting classes in the nation heading to East Lansing next year. It’s no surprise, really, especially as the Spartans are likely to end their third straight season in the top five along with Dantonio’s track record of getting players drafted into the NFL.