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Michigan State Spartans Football: Introducing the Projected Roster

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Joe takes a page from basketball and checks out how the roster will look down the road

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last five weeks, MSU has landed eleven verbal football commits for the 2016 class. I wasn't a math major (shocking, right?), but it does seem to me that averaging 2.2 commits per week is an unsustainable trend. Due to low levels of attrition, MSU recruiting classes have been relatively small; the largest were classes of 23 in 2007 and 2009. Comparatively, Ohio State took 28 guys in the 2014 class and 27 guys in the 2015 class. But just how large could the 2016 class be for MSU?

There is really only one way to answer that, which is by counting up all the scholarship players MSU has on the roster. We do this for basketball, but it is much easier to keep track of 13 scholarship players instead of 85. In fact, I needed help from you guys to get there (Thanks Green 96!). Unfortunately, the chart is too big to copy and paste as an image, so here is the Google spreadsheet where I'll be tracking the roster.

Caveats: I only included scholarship guys, with the exceptions of AJ Troup and Cole Chewins, who will be going on scholarship for next season, presumably. I ordered the depth chart first by class (to make counting easier) and then loosely by location on the depth chart. I assumed a redshirt year for all guys in the 2015 and 2016 classes (this is probably not true for somebody like LJ Scott). For the 2015 class, I put them at the position suggested by the official MSU page; for the 2016 class I generally kind of guessed. The 2016 guys especially may not be correct. Some thoughts:

2016 Class

It appears that right now the 2016 class has room for four more players, but there are two notable situations where scholarships could be freed up. First, I included Delton Williams as a scholarship guy, given that there hasn't been any official word on his status. But if he's dismissed, there's one additional scholarship. Second, Jack Conklin seems likely to #FollowHisHeart after next year into the NFL Draft. There's a second additional scholarship. There's probably another retirement/transfer/AMSUOLHG loss somewhere between now and signing day. So I'd presume five to seven more spots for a class of 18 to 20.

Quarterback

The competition in 2016 between Tyler O'Connor, Damion Terry, and theoretically even Brian Lewerke looms large. I'm personally hoping we break the four 'OR' record set in 2013. But in general this group looks to be in good shape with two highly rated guys until 2019.

Running Back

If Williams is dismissed, there could be some issues with depth at running back, given that TJ Harrell and Gerald Owens played multiple positions during the Spring Game. I didn't include Andrew Dowell here, but my guess is that a Williams dismissal results in Andrew coming in as a running back.

Wide Receiver

I've spilled too many words about the wideout situation in 2016 and beyond but one thing I haven't mentioned is the pain of burning Macgarrett Kings' redshirt in 2012. Had Kings taken a redshirt that year, he'd still be around to bolster a 2016 group currently manned by R.J. Shelton and a bunch of guys who haven't really seen the field yet.

Offensive Line

The rotation of guys like Miguel Machado, Dennis Finley, and Benny McGowan will be especially important this year if Jack Conklin leaves early; losing three starting offensive lineman could be painful for a new quarterback and new receiving corps to deal with in 2016. Otherwise, this position group is in great shape, with solid 2015 and 2016 classes coming in.

Defensive Line

There has yet to be a defensive lineman commit for the 2016 class, but my guess is that changes soon. My guess is that two or three lineman would be sufficient given the size of the 2014 and 2015 classes at this position.

Linebackers

There's an embarrassment of riches here, as usual. There is a steep drop-off from 2017 to 2018, especially if Andrew Dowell ends up as a running back; to stem that tide I think there will be another linebacker or two in this class. I listed Jonah Morris as a receiver, but he could easily end up as a STAR linebacker, too. As long as there's one more linebacker in this class, things should be just fine.

Cornerback

Lots of depth, if not many standouts. There's another steep drop-off  from 2016 to 2017, but some of that could be made up by shifting safeties who might play both positions, like Montae Nicholson or Jalen Watts-Jackson. Another spot where a commit would shore up that drop-off.

Safety

In great shape until 2019. Might be drawn from for other position groups.

Specialists

I was glad to see that MSU offered a kicker, as this analysis started making me a little nervous for the kicking game in 2017 (Kevin Cronin is also a senior in 2016). Also looming incredibly small: the long snapper situation after this year. The spring depth chart had Dylan Chmura at that spot, which seems solid going forward.

What are your thoughts? Any concerns? Did I screw anything up?