Eleven Spartan Names Prepared to Make the Next Step this Camp
Anytime a new player shows up for MSU I have zero expectations of them until they begin their third year in the program. Certainly, there are those who make significant contributions early, but those are rarer than most would guess.
I don’t even expect those players to be starters, but at the start of their third year in the program they need to be making a move into the two deep at their position and start getting real playing time. As the Spartans are underway, here are some of those players that I am looking for to make a move.
This list is not about those that have underachieved. I think it is categorically false to claim that from a young man only two years out of high school at a high BCS level program. I will look more into who needs to step up tomorrow. For today, here is a list of those to watch for making the next step. I am not saying if they will or won’t. They determine that. I am saying it is time to watch them close.
1. WR DeAnthony Arnett: This young man was the #1 player in the state of Michigan coming out of high school and as he enters his third year of college eligibility it is time for him to make his move. All of the talent in the world doesn’t matter at this level if it doesn’t show up on the field with game day. Arnett has been his own worst hindrance up until now; this is his time to fulfill expectations.
2. DT Lawrence Thomas: He has to stay healthy and motivated. He is a freak physically and has an amazing amount of God given talent. The time for expectations is over. How bad does he want? How hard will he work for it? He needs to make his move now. Doesn’t have to be a star, but there is NO REASON for him to not be in the two deep and a significant contributor. He has NFL skills; the question is if he has NFL want to.
3. WR Andre Sims, Jr.: Sims is undersized, but the coaches wanted him anyways. The reason? They believe in him. Now he has to believe in himself and the skills that got him this far. The speedster has great skills and looks amazing with some great muscle weight added over the summer. Last year he got a shot and dropped passes, and on punt returns was playing not to make mistakes, rather than trying to make plays. He has the talent and Dantonio admitted to me that making plays as a punt returner will get him more shots in the slot at WR, but now is his time.
4. DB Arjen Colquhon: Colquhon has great skills and speed. In his defense, he is at a position that the Spartans have stockpiled talent at, but they took him for a reason. They have faith in his ability. He needs to make plays on special teams and get into that critical two deep and contribute when he is on the field. There are some very good players behind him pushing and some good ones ahead of him that need a push.
5. LB Ed Davis: With mad skills, Davis was highly heralded when he came to MSU. LB and DB are the two spots where rapid depth chart movement is nearly impossible with Denicos Allen and Max Bullough on the roster. That said, he has to start laying a claim for next season by making big plays on the specials and when he does get in, showing the ability to make an impact. He is a physical specimen that looks the part, now he has to play it.
6. LB Darien Harris: Perhaps no player on this list is more confusing than Harris. Spartan coaches were over joyed when he committed. They were certain he was the heir apparent to Chris Norman and many felt he would take the job from him like Taiwan Jones did last year. A super kid, Harris has let distractions keep him from what should have been his. Perhaps the most athletic player on the team, with great players ahead of him and behind him, 2013 will determine how far he goes in his career. One of his fellow linebackers on the team, who loves him, said it best, “Every day I am shocked I am playing and Darien isn’t as much. He is such a freak athletically.” Harris played in high school totally in love with football. Like I said, he is a super kid, but MSU has yet to see him playing in love with football at MSU. It’s time!
7. TE Paul Lang: I hesitate to put him on this list because his entire first season was spent trying to get healthy and walk after a devastating injury. Since this list is about those ready to make a move and it IS NOT A LIST OF DISSAPOINTMENTS he fits fine. He told me recently that he is “100%” and I believe him. He looks great and with the MSU TE spot wide open here is his chance to pounce. He is a tough, hardnosed kid that embodies the steel city of Pittsburgh. He is all heart and is fun to watch play.
8. DT Brandon Clemons: Spartan coaches were thrilled when Clemons pledged to Michigan State. He is a fantastic person, a great football player and athlete, and as close to a can’t miss prospect as there was. Since arriving at MSU he has not been able to stay healthy. He has to be able to play and that means staying healthy. Clemons has missed a lot of time being hurt, he has to get back and show something this year. Again, he doesn’t need to start, but he has to make a move and make it now.
9. DE Joel Heath: When Heath said yes to Michigan State, the Spartans thought they were getting Will Gholston 2.0. They said it. There isn’t a DE on the team more athletic than him. He is a genuine and warm young man and sometimes leaves the killer instinct in the locker room. This is his time. His great friend Shilique Calhoun is a starter and now it is Heath’s time to solidify his spot in the two deep with claims on being a major player. Heath is the only one in his way. When playing at his best he could be the best DE on the team. He has to believe that and play every snap like it is true.
10. DT Damon Knox: There is plenty of opportunity for Knox; he now has to take advantage of it. He is not out of his element, he belongs. He now has to be one of those “Hungry Dawgs” that Coach Narduzzi talks about. If Knox doesn’t make a move there is no one to blame, but himself. God has blessed that young man with size, power, and strength. It’s up to him now. Coaches don’t care who wins those critical spots and they are willing to go three deep at both DT spots. His hands have to get better and young Mr. Knox worked hard to get them where they have to be.
11. DT Mark Scarpinato: This young man is big and powerful and for some reason isn’t getting talked about. His motor is there and he has worked hard for this chance and opportunity. There is room at the DT spot for him to step up and get reps. Unlike other spots where the battle is for the two deep, on the DL they want to go three deep.