The comforting: The Spartans return all but one of the players from their wide receiver corps last season and are primed to continue the growth that took place from 2012 to 2013. Bennie Fowler, the lone senior, led the team in yards and touchdowns, but Tony Lippett was right there in terms of consistency and led the team in receptions.
Also returning are Keith Mumphery, Aaron Burbridge, Andre Sims Jr, DeAnthony Arnett and R.J. Shelton – the latter two drawing high praise throughout the spring. Arnett is waiting to make his impact after transferring a couple years ago from Tennessee, while Shelton made a splash as a true freshman and figures to take a step forward in his pass-catching ability – and usage – as a sophomore.
A lot of depth and talent is back for Michigan State, and just like last year, it just will be a matter of who steps up and makes plays downfield.
The concerning: Burbridge seemed to take a step back in 2013 after a solid freshman season. He was hardly in the picture last season as a sophomore, having just 22 receptions and missing some time injured.
One of the most talented returning receivers is MacGarrett Kings, but he missed the spring for the standard line of "a violation of team rules." Missing spring ball is never a positive and Kings was key last year in giving the offense a spark when it badly needed one.
To continue with the trend of receivers in the 2012 recruiting class, Monty Madaris has yet to really make a mark at Michigan State. Coming out of high school, he figured to be a strong player in East Lansing, but hardly saw the field last year and has spent much of his first two years injured. He did, however, have a pair of catches in the spring game, including a very impressive one against Darian Hicks.
The conclusion: Sticking with the pattern established with looking at running backs and quarterbacks, the Spartans have to like the position their wide receivers are in right now. The veterans Lippett and Mumphery figure to lead the group heading into the fall, with Kings, Arnett, Burbridge and Shelton all nice complementary pieces. It would be ideal if the Spartans saw a big jump form either Burbridge or Arnett so they bring back a viable threat in 2015 after Lippett and Mumphery graduate. Where Madaris and redshirt freshman Trey Kilgore figure in will be interesting to watch, as well. Kilgore generated some good buzz last summer from upperclassmen before suffering an injury. Either way, lots of names are in the picture at wide receiver and the Spartans should be happy with the situation.