Here we continue our 2012 position previews. I aim to be occasionally right, barring that I’ll shoot for humor. For your enjoyment, I present the Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Fullbacks, Tight Ends, Offensive Line, Linebackers and Secondary.
Projected Starters: Bennie Fowler(X), Tony Lippett/Keith Mumphery(Z), DeAnthony Arnett(Y)
Key Departures: All of them. Cunningham, Nichol and Keshawn Martin. 68.8 percent of all receiving yards.
The script has been clear all summer long. The 2011 WR corps accounted for 68.8 percent of receiving yards in an incredibly effective passing attack. MSU has a ton of talent that has yet to prove itself on the football field. Just because these statements are boring and ominous doesn’t make them any less true.
Bennie Fowler has been the heir apparent at the Wide Receiver position since late 2010. Fowler is probably best known for the Mousetrap play below:
Fowler missed almost all of 2011 with some sort of ankle injury. He appears to be fully healed and ready to lead the WR corps in 2012. Dantonio recently mentioned that Fowler was having a camp like that of Devin Thomas back in 2007. Thomas had 79 grabs for 1260 yards and 8 TDs that year even though he was in triple coverage on every play by the end of 2007. Fowler is the surest thing MSU has going at a pretty unsure position.
At the Z position two guys who seem likely to see time on the field are Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery. Lippett played QB in high school, CB in college and has moved over to WR for the 2012 campaign. One of my concerns for Lippett is that he’ll get drafted back to the defense if either Adams or Dennard goes down. The CB depth has improved such that this shouldn’t be an issue, but until it isn’t an issue I remain 22 percent skeptical.
Keith Mumphery was the leading receiver in the Spring Ball season this year and has played right alongside Maxwell the past two years, he figures to work in consistently throughout the season as well. Mumphery is one of those Georgia guys who brings the ESS EEE CEE speed to the MSU mix.
DeAnthony Arnett will likely be MSU’s starter in the slot position. MSU doesn’t really do three starters at WR(that’s a John L thing), but he’s most likely to be the first slot guy up when needed. Andre Sims also had a nice spring at this position. Here’s a video of DeAnthony Arnett blowing up some kids in high school camps Will Campbell style.
All of that said, after everyone but Fowler your consistent WR producers are pretty much a crapshoot. The great news is that everyone will get a fair shake, the bad news is that this MSU staff doesn’t seem real quick to settle in position battles. Love that in the long term, could lead to a frustrating ND game.
The Other Guys
MSU had a huge Wide Receiver class in 2012, none of whom are mentioned above. Top ranked WR commit Aaron Burbridge is out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. Given where that would put him on the development curve plan on him redshirting this year. Monty Madaris was injured in fall camp with a high ankle sprain. This likely will end up in a redshirt for him as well. Kyle Kerrick enrolled early and could be one of those lunch pail guys who ends up making it, but not in 2012. MacGarrett Kings appears to have the inside track on the Keshawn Martin role down the road, but he’ll be more of a 2013 or beyond type guy as well. Juwan Caesar has been very talented since coming to MSU, but also injured often.
Future Blair White Watch
Tres Barksdale is a walk-on from Solon Ohio who has gotten lots of dap from coaches including this quote from Dantonio. “He makes catches down the field, he knows where to line up, he knows where to go on the routes, and he’s been impressive because he makes plays,” Dantonio said. “There’s not been a practice that’s gone by that he hasn’t made plays for us.” John Jakubik made noise in Spring Ball.
In addition to the loss of many receiving yards and touchdowns, a quieter thing that will be missed is that both Cunningham and Nichol were excellent run blockers. Martin was no slouch either, but Cunningham and Nichol were excellent. Frequently their target was deleted out of a play. We will miss that this year against defenses that are slow to the edge like Michigan. We’ll find people to make catches, but this is a critical aspect of second-level rushing that will need to get addressed at some point.
For 2012, Fowler is the only sure thing at a very unsure position. As is the blessedly wonderful script since our John L abuse took place, the talent is there, it’s just sifting through to find a cohesive unit that will be challenging. This year will undoubtedly be aggravating at points because MSU staff stick with a starter a game or two beyond where the general fan consensus would be to move them. Lippett, Mumphery and Arnett all will see plenty of playing time in 2012. The future of this position seems assured, but the present is pretty damn unsteady right now.