After taking a look at one of the key defensive groups in our first issue of “the next big thing”, we slide across to offense this time around and take a gander at the tight end position.
This is a group that is going to be more or less completely overhauled from the last few years. Gone are Josiah Price and Jamal Lyles, who combined for 134 receptions, 1,648 yards, and 23 touchdowns over the last four years. Obviously the bulk of that was Price but Lyles was an underrated contributor as well.
That is a lot of production to try and replace, especially with a young quarterback who could certainly use the security blanket a reliable pass catching tight end can provide.
The returning tight ends on the Michigan State roster have combined for two catches for 26 yards. Junior Matt Sokol picked up both those catches last year. By virtue of those two catches and being a junior, he is the most experienced tight end on the roster and probably has the inside track to being the top tight end on the depth chart when the season opens. However, he is not my pick to be the next big thing at tight end for the Spartans.
For that I have chosen to go with red-shirt freshman Noah Davis. This is more about potential than it is about experience for me, and Davis has that potential. This is a guy who was a consensus top-30 tight end nationally, and top-20 according to Rivals and ESPN. He also has a similar build to the player he will be trying to replace in Josiah Price. How similar? They are both listed at 6-4, 248 pounds.
Watching some of the tape on him from high school you see a guy that really looks like he fits what MSU likes to do with their tight ends. He showed the ability to get open down the field, as well as to make a catch on a shallow cross near the line of scrimmage and use his speed and vision to turn it up-field for a big play. He also seems to have no problem going up to catch a ball, or getting down low to pick a throw off the turf.
When watching those clips of Davis, it is hard not to see the similarities to Price. He’s more than just a big body, he’s got some athleticism too, not surprising considering he also played lacrosse in high school.
I think Lewerke to Davis has a chance to become a very solid red zone combination for Michigan State over the next three years. It might not take off right away, but I really do think Noah Davis will be the next big thing at tight end for a school that has really done a great job developing the position under Mark Dantonio.