Offseason focus paying off for Kings

After not being redshirted, the sophomore wide receiver worked on a few elements of his game in the offseason and is making an impression on his teammates.

When the Michigan State wide receivers struggled early in the 2012 season, the Spartans turned to true freshman MacGarrett Kings to add a dynamic element to the offense.

It might not have happened exactly as the coaches hoped, as Kings played in eight games and registered just four catches for 25 yards. Kings said it was hard at the time, but best for the team.

"It was tough knowing that I couldn't be out there doing anything to help my team," he said, "but at the end of the day, I felt like it was the best decision for this program and Coach D had a plan for me. So, I wasn't really worried about it. I'm just looking to come out and work hard."

The work appears to be paying off. Kings hauled in a 19-yard touchdown from senior quarterback Andrew Maxwell in the first fall scrimmage Saturday. Maxwell said Kings has been having a great camp.

"Macgarrett is what you would call a football player," Maxwell said. "He is a guy where, we were watching film (Monday) and he ran a route not exactly as he was coached to do, but he was open.

"He is a guy that we say, just let him play football because that's what he is."

While the raw ability has been there – and likely led to not being redshirted in 2012 – wide receivers coach Terry Samuel said it took realizing he couldn't beat people with his quickness in the same way he did in high school for Kings to focus on technique.

"When he started to appreciate that Darqueze Dennard was going to be right on him the moment he sneezed, he started to grow and started to have a better appreciation of his technique" Samuel said. "He's a embracing that much, much more now and he's running much better routes and getting (defensive backs) out of position because he is starting to appreciate his technique more."

Kings said the biggest thing he had to work on was getting depth on his routes and the focus on the details that Samuel preached to him.

"I watch film more now, I do all the little things now and by me doing that, it's making my game evolve even more than last year," he said.

He also added a little bulk to be able to play more physically, something demanded of wide receivers in the blocking game.

"I gained five more pounds, because I knew that was a big thing last year," he said. "I wasn't strong as I was this year to be able to block linebackers and bigger defenders."

After all the work, his teammates have taken notice. Senior wide receiver Bennie Fowler also said that Kings has been standing out during fall camp – as well as sophomore Andre Sims.

"Both are performing really well right now," Fowler said. "Both look good catching the ball, run after the catch and in the blocking game, too. They both look good."

As it turns out, Sims also was key to Kings' touchdown in Saturday's scrimmage.

"That was just a little screen pass to (Kings)," Maxwell said. "I'll tell you who made the best play of that play was Andre Sims, who was our X (receiver). I said to him in the huddle, ‘Andre, if you make this block on this corner, we score a touchdown.' That was one where we want to get up and get it snapped and get it out there. (Andre) did and he locked him up and he gave Macgarrett a two-way go and let Macgarrett be athletic and be a football player.

"Macgarrett made a great run, made one guy miss and dove in the end zone. That's just the kind of things that he can do for us in space."

And that type of dynamic play is exactly what the Spartans envisioned from Kings last year – and what they will be after in 2013.

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