It is never too early to start looking ahead to next season in college football. The Spartans were praised in the preseason, and after a home opening win against the Boise State Broncos they looked poised to win a major BCS Bowl. However shaky quarterback play, the inability to execute late in games, and lackluster performances from big time players (William Gholston) have led to the Spartans sitting at 5-5 this season. They now are seeking a Bowl Bid to salvage this season.
Spartan fans can rejoice. Although there were many dark spots this season, there were points of hope. Young receivers like true freshman Aaron Burbridge have made an impact that will last over the next few years.
Burbridge (a Farmington Hills, MI native) was heavily recruited by numerous division one programs. He was given a four star rating by recruiting database Rivals.com. Burbridge also was praised by ESPN Top 150 and was given the title of Super-Prep and Prep All-American. Burbridge is a physical receiver, who at 6'1"/ 190 lbs. is the perfect size to become a target for the future. He is lightening fast and has a tremendous upside (he is already a co-starter as a freshman).
An NFL departure of LeVeon Bell appears imminent. The junior running has exploded this year and is praised for his physicality and awareness. Most definitely departing is senior running back Larry Caper, who offers security for Bell and is a solid runner. Sophomore Nick Hill currently sits at third on the depth chart behind Bell and Caper. Hill is an explosive player. He currently serves as a return specialist. College football guru Phil Steele ranked Caper the 11th best returner in the nation in his preseason outlook. In his red-shirt freshman year, Hill earned honorable mention All Big Ten Freshman team accolades. In high school, Rivals classified Hill as an all-purpose back. He was ranked the 9th best in the category. Look for Hill to be competitive and most likely start next season.
On the defensive side of the ball, look for Gholston to return. After failing to live up to preseason hype, Gholston won't find himself being heavily scouted or sought after in the draft. If he can return and make some noise next season, his draft stock should rise. The departure of cornerback Johnny Adams may be tough to cope with, but redshirt freshman Arjen Colquhoun will most likely fill the void. Colquhoun is a Canadian play from neighboring Windsor who was ranked as the 42nd best Safety by Rivals (he made the switch over to corner). He has pure athletic ability and football knowledge that should aid him well next season.
The most important outlook is that of the recruiting class. So far Coach Dantonio has received 14 verbal commitments. The biggest stand out is linebacker Jon Reschke. Reschke is from Bloomfield, Michigan. He currently plays for Brother Rice and is an intuitive player. He is considered to be the 6th best player in the state of Michigan...according to Rivals. At 6'2"/ 229 lbs, Reschke is built for big time football. He is also quick, running a 4.64 40 yard dash. His strength is shown by his 365 lb bench press and tremendous 505 lb squat. He should be able to step in and learn from teammates, while still being competitive and vying for playing time (wether it be specials or defense).
Not to be outdone by Reschke is fellow linebacker Shane Jones. Jones plays for Moeller out of Cincinnati. Jones is also a four star recruit who is regarded as the 13th best prospect at his position. At 6"1/ 220 lbs Jones has room to fill out. He is strong and boasts a 31 inch vertical jump. He will be a nice addition to the Spartan D for the future.
There still is hope for this season. If MSU can execute and win out their schedule, they can finish with a respectable record and bowl victory. Although the season did not turn out to be one that ended in "Roses", it was still one that showed promise. Mark Dantonio has built a competitive football program that is backed by a great university who shows devotion to all athletics. With a strong incoming recruiting class and returning starters, MSU should be set to win in the future.
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