Heading into the 2012 season, lack of experience at the wide receiver position was a major concern for this Michigan State squad. The concern was justified, as inconsistency plagued Spartan wideouts early in the season. But as the year wore on, sophomore Keith Mumphrey and the other MSU wide receivers began to settle in and find their comfort zone. Mumphrey was recently interviewed by Hondo, discussing adjustments, the other players at the wide receiver position and the outlook heading into Michigan State’s showdown with TCU on December 29th in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Over the course of the season, the MSU wide receiver core, which lost standout players such as Keshawn Martin and B.J. Cunningham and Keith Nichol to graduation, evolved as a group. The young, talented wideouts began to emerge as they worked harder to gain more confidence. “It’s been helping the young guys,” Mumphrey said. “Learn everything and use what you know to get better, and work on our techniques.” As a result, Mumphrey and the rest of the wide receivers are improving. “We’re coming closer. We’re doing the little things: working harder, watching more film than we normally watch. I think it is all positive when you’re trying to be the best.” This is an area that the Spartans could see big improvement in next season, as Mumphrey sees this group of wideouts as very talented. “All of them stood out to me, I’m not going to lie. All of our receivers have potential.”
Mumphrey himself has picked up a lot over the course of this season. One area in which the sophomore showed great improvement was in his leadership qualities, as he found his voice in the locker room. “I was able to become more vocal as a leader…in trying to get my teammates revved up,” he said.
The young wideout also learned to relax and clear his mind, something he was not able to do at beginning of the season. “I still think a little bit, but I did think a lot,” Mumphrey said. “But I’ve learned to relax and take a deep breath.” He has discovered that, at the wide receiver position, a positive attitude is critical. “You have to have that attitude that ‘I’m that guy and I can’t be denied.’ That will take you a long way.”
Michigan State’s showdown with TCU on December 29th is quickly approaching. Mumphrey and the rest of the team eagerly await the game in Tempe, Arizona. “We just have to take advantage of our opportunities,” Mumphrey said. “When it’s time to catch the ball, we have to catch the ball. We make the tough catch and we have to make the tough block.” The Spartans offense will have to excel at this, as the Horned Frogs defense is stout. “Their cornerbacks are pretty good,” Mumphrey said, “But they can be beat.” The weakness of the TCU defense that Mumphrey and the MSU offense will be looking to exploit? “I would say their safeties,” he stated.
Not long after the bowl game, juniors LeVeon Bell and Dion Sims will face an important decision that will impact the Spartans next season. These two playmakers must choose to either go pro or stay at MSU for their senior seasons. Mumphrey hopes that his two teammates will stay, as he has encouraged them to do. “Of course I want them to come back. At the end of the day, they have to make the decision as to what’s best for them, but I’d love for them to come back.”