Look Ahead: WRs

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

Our third in a series of looks at Michigan State's position groups has us looking at the wide receiver position with a major loss in B.J. Cunningham.

Wide Receivers

The loss of record-breaking wide receiver B.J. Cunningham will be a major void to fill for 2012. However, the Spartans lose even more when you break it down. Here is a look at those leaving and entering the program.

Departing :

Redshirt Senior – B.J. Cunningham

The task of replacing one of Michigan State's top all-time receivers will be a major concern entering spring drills. Cunningham may not have received the attention he deserved from those outside the program, however, Spartan fans know he was a clutch performer and always seemed to be there when needed. 2011 saw the Ohio native pull down 79 balls for 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Senior – Keshawn Martin

Martin enjoyed a great senior season with 66 catches for 777 yards and four touchdowns. Not only will his receiving skills be missed by Spartan fans, his ability to return punts will be another area the Spartans will need to work on. Redshirt Senior – Keith Nichol

While the loss of Nichol may not have the same impact of Cunningham or Martin it is still a big one. On the season the former quarterback pulled down 26 balls for 352 yards and three touchdowns with one being the biggest of the season against Wisconsin early in the season.

Redshirt Senior – Brad Sonntag

While the Saginaw native pulled down six catches for 44 yards it's his work on special teams as the team's holder that should be well remembered. If not for Sonntag the Spartans would not have even been given the chance to go into overtime against Georgia in the Outback Bowl.

Redshirt Senior – Chris D. Rucker

Players Returning : Its easy to see the Spartans have some major voids to fill when they take the field for spring drills. Who will be able to step up and earn starting jobs?

Redshirt Freshman – Keith Mumphery

The Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year for the 2010 season got some snaps in 2011. While getting two catches for 39 yards may not excite many, he shows promise to have a chance to be a solid player over the next three seasons.

Redshirt Sophomore – Bennie Fowler

Injuries continue to hurt the development of Fowler but the skill set is there for the Detroit Country Day product. If Fowler can get back on track many feel he's got the ability to be a major playmaker for the Spartans.

Redshirt Freshman – Tony Lippett

We'll give Lippett dual billing on both sides of the football as the Spartans continue to find his best position. Many expected the Detroit (MI) Crockett product to have a major breakout season in 2011. However, four catches for 44 yards and 18 total tackles was less than expected. Continued development and finding an anchor at one position could help.

Freshman – Juwan Caesar

The Florida native has the physical size and early reports should have Spartan fans excited to see what he shows in the spring. Caesar needs to be ready to get major snaps by camp.

Freshman – Al Troup

The 6-foot-2, 202-pounds preferred walk-on has a big frame and was coming off back-to-back injuries prior to coming to MSU.

Freshman - Andre Sims Jr.

Sims will be given the first shot of earning quality time on special teams and as a wide receiver. A high school playmaker, Sims has a chance to be special once he takes the field in the spring.

Incoming: The Spartans expect big things from Aaron Burbridge as many feel the Farmington Hills (MI) native can be one of the next big-time receivers. MacGarrett Kings will look to replace the overall abilities of Keshawn Martin and Kyle Kerrick has a solid frame at just under 6-foot-3, 185-pounds.

Outlook: The strength of the Spartans offense in 2011 could well be its biggest question in 2012. There is talent on the roster and coming into East Lansing in the summer. However, Fowler and Lippett are the key returners. Roster battles will continue when camp opens in August.


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