We’ve made it! Football season is officially back. While we will still have to wait a few weeks to watch live games, the Michigan State Spartans will be taking the practice field for the first time since spring.
The Spartans are coming off an impressive turnaround, recording 10 wins and only three losses in 2017 following a disappointing three-win season in 2016. With the majority of the 2017 team returning — including 19 of 22 starters — there is plenty of reason for optimism in East Lansing.
There are plenty of other stories to keep an eye on during fall camp as well. How will the return of Jon Reschke affect team chemistry? On the field, will Reschke earn playing time and is he fully recovered from his past injuries (knee, ankle)?
What kind of impact will the 2018 freshmen class make? The 22-player class offers a ton of talent and last year showed us that head coach Mark Dantonio is not afraid to play true freshmen. Watch for names such as Kalon Gervin, Xavier Henderson, Trenton Gillison, Elijah Collins and a bulked-up La’Darius Jefferson to earn early reps if they have strong camp showings.
Who is starting at strong-side linebacker (SAM) and defensive end? Tyriq Thompson is the frontrunner at SAM, while Brandon Randle, an excellent pass-rusher, should push him for the spot. Don’t be surprised if Antjuan Simmons makes a play for the spot as well, but the Spartans may view him as more of a weak-side linebacker.
Jacub Panasiuk is the early favorite to start opposite Kenny Willekes at defensive end, but the Alexanders, Justice & Dillon (no relation), will likely be in the rotation as well, and will make a push for a starting spot. Perhaps converted tight ends Matt Seybert and Jack Camper will impress during camp as well and earn playing time on the defensive line.
The school and program also dealt with several controversies and allegations over the offseason. It will be interesting to see how this team focuses, and if we see more transparency from MSU going forward.
What are you going to be paying attention to most during preseason camp? Let us know in the comments section.