Less than a month after the Michigan State Spartans finished a bounce-back season, going 10-3 with a Holiday Bowl win, the roster has taken another hit.
Hunter Rison, a true freshman wide receiver, is the latest Spartan headed to a different program, according to his father, Andre Rison. The announcement was made Monday afternoon on “The Drive With Jack” on 92.1 FM, Lansing.
The issue, it seems, was a lack of playing time.
“He feels as if he’s just as good as the guys that’s playing in front of him,” his father said on the radio show. “With that being said and how it looks from the rotation - some games he wouldn’t even get in in the second half, some games he wouldn’t play at all, but a minimum. He’s too talented to just waste a freshman year and just go by. He could have redshirted, he could have did a lot of different things for that matter.”
Rison did see a fair amount of playing time, especially for a freshman. The Ann Arbor native hauled in 19 catches for 224 yards, the fourth most on the team, through 12 games. However, every MSU wide receiver and tight end who caught a pass in 2017 is expected to return next year.
Junior Felton Davis III emerged as the breakout receiver on the team, leading the Spartans in both receptions and yards with 55 catches for 776 yards. He was followed by sophomore Darrell Stewart Jr with 50 for 501. Fellow true freshman Cody White broke out late in the season as a reliable pass catcher over the middle, finishing with 35 for 490.
While White earned one of the three starting spots, Rison remained the fourth wide receiver, also fighting for catches with tight end Matt Sokol.
“We know we can play on that level. I think he proved it,” Andre Rison said. “But he needs to be out there more. He needs to be playing more. He needs to be more involved in the offense, not sitting on the sidelines for continuous week after week after week after week after week after week when the coach is telling him he needs to find ways to play him.”
Neither Hunter Rison nor Michigan State has commented on Andre Rison’s statements yet. If he were to transfer, the wide receiver would have to either sit out a season or spend a year out of D-I.
While Andre Rison enjoyed four seasons in East Lansing, becoming an All-American on his way to the NFL, Hunter’s relationship with MSU has been a bit more rocky. After an early verbal commitment to the Spartans, Rison decommitted before eventually signing his letter of intent and even enrolling early.
Rison, a four-star recruit, was heavily recruited by some of the top schools across the country, including Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Miami.
Andre Rison said his son has nothing against the MSU program and appreciates what the coaches have done for him, but thinks he would be a better fit somewhere else.
“It’s nothing against the program,” the wide receiver’s father said. “It’s just the system doesn’t fit him and he doesn’t fit the system, evidentially.”
Rison is the second player to transfer from the Spartans this offseason, joining backup quarterback Messiah deWeaver, who announced in late December his plans to leave. deWeaver recently posted on Twitter that he plans on playing for East Mississippi Community College next year.
The Spartans are also losing co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett, who signed a contract with Florida State as a defensive coordinator.
After his father first broke the news, Hunter Rison has now officially announced he will be leaving Michigan State. The wide receiver posted a message, along with a letter from Michigan State granting him his full release.
“To Spartan Nation, I thank you. The opportunity you gave me to live out a life-long dream will forever be dear to me and my family. The relationships formed within this past year will last me a lifetime. It was an honor and privilege to put on the green and white and be apart of such an amazing season. I’ve decided to transfer from MSU in order to better myself and accomplish my goals on the field as well as in the classroom.