News and Notes from Spartan Football…
William Gholston is the embodiment of the term Beast Lansing. He was taken by Ken Mannie this past off season and chiseled. He has been dominating this spring so far and will enter the fall clearly as the best defensive player in the B1G.
Lawrence Thomas is recovering, but excitement is hard to contain among the program for him. He is so big and so strong and fast the only issue with him is going to be how to use him and where. He will see the field. Now where? He won’t unseat Max Bullough so let the search begin for where he plays.
Andrew Maxwell is adjusting well to the spotlight. He is incredibly passionate for the game and I know that there was a curve adjusting from the backup to the man. He told me recently, “It is a different world.” We have been talking about Maxwell since he signed and this fall the Spartan Nation will be very pleased. He has every tool, can make every throw and is a fantastic young man. I can also tell you that his teammates genuinely believe in him and like him. He will be a great Andrew Maxwell, I hope people learn to appreciate that and aren’t looking for the next Kirk Cousins. He will be himself. He may be a young man, but he is comfortable in his own skin and is mature far beyond his years.
Chris Norman is in a yellow shirt as a precaution, but he also benefited from a winter with Ken Mannie and is sculpted. I will be stunned if he doesn’t have the best season of his career in 2012. He is so smart as a football player. When mixed with the physical skills he is a machine.
Connor Cook brings such a physical variable to the QB position. He is a faster Drew Stanton with a better arm. It is fun to watch him practice as he always is wearing a smile.
I have always liked Larry Caper both personally and as a player. This spring he has taken his game up a notch. He is on a mission and it shows. He is jumping every rep he can and has taken a business approach to the spring. I like it. I miss the smile, but I love the passion.
Jeremy Langford has bulked up over the winter. His body looks like granite. If he can play smart and physical he will be in the mix at RB. Right now he would be the 3rd option, I really want to see him run the ball in the spring game.
I love everything about Niko Palazeti. He plays with the same reckless abandon of William Gholston and Max Bullough and attacks people. As the first true FB Mark Dantonio has recruited to MSU he shows it. You can tell how good a FB is by what the D thinks of him. They love him, with one saying to me yesterday, “He could play for us,” on defense and that says a lot.
Darien Harris has garnered big praise from his coaches this spring. Pat Narduzzi has to be shaking his head with all the weapons and toys he has on his side of the ball. Who knows how or where, but Narduzzi said of Harris, “That is a guy you’re going to see this fall no doubt about it.” He is a unique blend of speed and strength and is a playmaker like Denicos Allen.
Fou Fonoti had a great season for MSU last year on the OL. He will get pushed, but I will be shocked if he lost his first string status in the fall. He has every tool on and off the field and I think his spot is as settled as Chris MAGNUS McDonald.
Travis Jackson, Blake Treadwell and Jack Allen are all in a dog fight for the C/LG spot. Who knows how that carousel ends come fall. Those three are in the midst of a three way fight that you could write a Hollywood movie about. (OK only if you are a sick freak like me who loves the OL) It has been a long time since we have seen a battle royal like those three are in (including last year) and it is fun to watch. All three are high class kids and all three get along. To me that is the show of the spring and when at practice I can’t get enough of watching those reps.
Donovan Clark is a stud. He may be one year away (may be) but he is going to be a star. His talent on the OL is so hard to contain and anyone with any ability to judge OL talent is salivating over that young man’s future.
Dan France has a very good season last year. He and Skyler Burkland are waging an all out battle for the starting LT spot. With France being the incumbent Burkland has to win it. You also need to remember that Burkland was a starter before facing injury last year. They are both warriors and to their credit they are going hard every rep. The competition on the MSU OL is so intense that the real winner is the program. No matter who wins what spots, this fall they will be battle tested and Iron is Truly Sharpening Iron this spring.
The only man happier then Mark Dantonio when they think of the offensive line this fall has to be Andrew Maxwell right now. Maxwell is a big young man, but having an OL like that in front of you has to make the pride of Midland sleep well at night.
Shilique Calhoun and Joel Heath are two monster DEs that are going to be big contributors this fall. Both remind me of William Gholston when he arrived. They posses all of the physical skills that God can give a young man. Now the task before them is that they simply have to grow into the game mentally. That doesn’t mean they aren’t smart. Like Gholston they are so used to dominating with their strength and size that now they need to learn to us technique. Like Gholston they are butt kickers and name takers and FUN to watch.
Tyler Hoover inside is going to make QBs angry with the passing lanes he takes away. Size alone makes him a game changer inside and his passion to take the new position on this fall is exciting.
Rashad White has impressed me this fall. With the loss of Worthy he has become a true leader. He is leading by example this spring and that is something we haven’t seen in the past. I think he is better with the loss of Worthy and if his approach this spring tells us anything, fall will bring some big honors to the Spartans NT.