Impact of Burkland's retirement

The Spartans will miss the junior's presence this season, but even more in the 2014 season as the Spartans will have to replace three offensive linemen.

There had been a lot of speculation around the status of Michigan State offensive tackle Skyler Burkland this offseason.

On Tuesday, the junior made his decision to end his career and forgo his final two years of eligibility.

Burkland was listed as the backup right tackle heading into the 2013 season, so the impact might not be felt immediately, but it will be seen in 2014.

Burkland would have entered 2014 as a starting offensive tackle, and been expected to lead the group. Now, his absence will be seen greatly.

The Spartans lose Burkland, and also will lose offensive tackles Fou Fonoti, Dan France, and Henry Conway to graduation after the season. They also will lose offensive guard Blake Treadwell.

France, Fonoti and Treadwell are expected to start this season, at least if the preseason depth chart holds true. Center Travis Jackson and guard Jack Allen will return to anchor the line in 2014, but MSU will face reloading at the other three spots. So, where does MSU look to stabilize the trenches on the offensive side?

The answer to left tackle, hopefully, comes from either Donavon Clark, who is listed as a co-starter with France heading into fall camp, or redshirt freshman Jack Conklin. Conklin drew great reviews from the scout team last year, as well as through spring ball.

Ideally, Clark emerges this year as a starter and force France to slide inside to guard or over to right tackle. In that situation, next year Conklin could move to the right side and play tackle.

Incoming freshman Dennis Finley also provides an option in 2014. He is raw, but with a 6-foot-6, 305-pound frame, has the size to make an impact.

Michael Dennis will be a senior next year at offensive tackle, but he hasn't shown himself as a viable option to this point in his career and enters 2013 as the third-string right tackle – although he now is the second-string with Burkland gone.

At the open guard spot for 2014, it figures that one of the 2012 guards, Benny McGowan or Zach Higgins, will plug it.

Junior Connor Kruse could have a say in the battle, as well.

The Spartans have a pair of offensive linemen committed for 2014, in center Brian Allen and offensive tackle Chase Gianacakos, but it is tough to contribute on the O-line as a true freshman and it is even tougher to say that they will be factors next season.


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