East Lansing, MI
Clara Bell Smith Center
As the Spartans held their annual draft for the spring game today, it didn’t take long for things to get interesting. Senior RT Fou Fonoti (SR White team) said that, “We all knew if we got the first pick it had to be Gholston so it was disappointing when we didn’t get that first pick to get Max. We knew if they got it he would be first for them.”
Dantonio runs the draft with the seniors being divided into a green and white team. This year RB Coach Brad Salem will lead the green team and WR Coach Terry Samuel will be the headman for the white. Dantonio serves in the commissioner role while the players actually make the picks. Once a player is picked, they rotate until all available players are selected at that position group until it is empty.
Once the DE spots were gone instantly the picks went to LB where no shock to anyone the first pick was Max Bullough. You may remember that in his first season as a Spartan he was the #1 overall pick by then senior Greg Jones. Jones himself was a middle linebacker and the pick of Bullough was a shock only because Jones already filled the slot. When asked about taking Bullough #1 overall Jones said at the time, “Because he is that good.”
In the spring it seems that each year the draft tells us more about the true position battles then the coaches or press releases ever will. It was a LeVeon Bell who came in with no stars and enrolled in January and was the first RB picked just a few short months later. It was an unknown Kirk Cousins picked over a Nick Foles and many other moves over the years that make this one of the more educating events of the spring.
There were certainly several of those moments today, but none bigger then the WR spot. Since the moment last season ended the Spartan Nation has wondered who will fill the shoes at WR. Since he committed to MSU, Spartan Nation has heralded A.J. Sims, Jr. from Snellville, Georgia.
All spring he has been consistently praised for his toughness across the middle and the simple fact that he never runs bad routes and never seems to drop a pass. So much so that his OC Dan Roushar said recently, “You just look up and he is always making a play.”
Once the WR group opened many thought it was a forgone assumption that transfer DeAnthony Arnett would be the first pick. Well we all remember what our dad’s taught us about assuming. Ass U Me.
The White team wasted no time blurting out A.J. Sims. The pride of Snellville was off the clock and the green team didn’t hide their displeasure. Another strong sign about how far the youngster has come.
Fou Fonoti said of his white team’s pick of Sims, “With your head coach (Samuel) as the wide receivers coach and he tells you that guy, he’s the man, it tells you what you need to know.” I have to concur. That is extremely high praise from the man that has to work with him every day in practice and in the film room.
When Samuel was asked about Andre Sims being picked #1 he wasted no time praising his protégé. “He’s made plays this spring and guys have a lot of trust in him.”
Chris Norman who was making the picks for the white team had more high praise for Sims. “He’s made a lot of plays. He is pretty elusive and he is really progressing.” I asked about his lack of fear going across the middle and Norman who normally patrols that part of the field said,” Anytime you have someone who isn’t afraid and won’t shy way from contact, you have a lot of respect for them and he does that.”
Other picks of note:
When Gholston went first, Marcus Rush went second. One would have assumed (there is that word again) that Joel Heath or Shilique Calhoun would go next. Again you would have been wrong. Jeremy Gainer was the 3rd DE chosen.
Dan France was the first OT selected. That gives us at least a peak at the battle with Skyler Burkland.
Darien Harris was the 3rd LB selected.
In the battle at S opposite of Isaiah Lewis Kurtis Drummond has been battling RJ Williamson all spring. Drummond got the nod when the picks came.
James Kittredge was selected as the first DT. It was Jared McGaha who said on Spartan Nation radio last week that he thought Kittredge would be better than Jerel Worthy.
In case you are wondering DeAnthony Arnett was the 3rd WR picked behind the aforementioned Sims and Jeremy Langford.
Funniest moment and perhaps the most telling? The white team offered DeAnthony Arnett in trade for Will Gholston and Dantonio said, “Don’t waste my time.” OUCH.