Look Ahead: RBs

The 2011 season is over and time to start looking ahead at changes in the Spartans program with spring ball only a few months away. Up next we look at the running back position.

Our second in a series of looks at Michigan State's position groups looks at the running back position that saw a change just as we started to write this article.

Running Backs

Two backs received the bulk of the carries in 2011 and with one possibly leaving early, change will be seen in the spring .

Departing : Junior Edwin Baker

Friday's news of Baker leaving the Spartans may surprise some but not others. Since seeing Le'Veon Bell take over the bulk of the carries in the later part of the season, some felt Baker could look to leave and take his chances at the NFL. While there is still a Chance Baker has second thoughts, the fact Mark Dantonio didn't give Baker a sendoff like Jerel Worthy received should say a lot.

Players Returning : The Spartans main back will look for his biggest season in 2012 as he continues to get better.

Sophomore LeVeon Bell – There is no mistaking Bell is the Spartans future as he continued to take his game to another level this past season. Bell has rushed for 1,505 yards and 19 touchdowns in 26 career games with two years to go. How good can Bell get? Many feel he's set for a giant season in 2012.

Junior Larry Caper – With Baker leaving Caper could find himself in position to see his workload increase in 2012. The Battle Creek native has rushed for 728 yards and nine touchdowns during his career. Solid back that has fought injuries and the explosion of Bell hinder his workload. Solid coming out of the backfield catching the football and still has plenty of football left in his body.

Redshirt Freshman Nick Hill – Hill has put in his time making big plays on special teams. With Baker leaving the Chelsea, Michigan native will get a real shot of becoming the Spartans main backup behind Bell. Posted 113 yards rushing on 29 carries this past season as he set high marks in the Spartans kick return team.

Incoming: The Spartans made the choice to only bring in one running back in the class of 2012 and Georgia native Nick Tompkins was the first to give his pledge. Tompkins has the physical size the Spartans like from their backs and would have been expected to redshirt his first season. However, the news of Baker's departure means the Spartans could take an extended look at getting Tompkins ready for early playing time.

Outlook: As long as Bell can stay healthy the Spartans have one of the best ground attacks in the Big Ten. Baker's departure will leave a question with depth as Caper has fought injuries and Hill being of little experience. Could the loss of Baker put the Spartans back in the market for another running back?

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