SpartanDigest Mailbag: August 8

Answering your questions about Michigan State football, basketball and recruiting!

What is going on with Deon Drake?

Drake is not taking part in fall camp right now and is working through some academics to become eligible. I guess the best way of putting things is stay tuned on Drake.

Any wideouts who haven’t played before impressing early?

The name that will be brought up, as it has before, is A.J. Troup. Watching him run through drills, he is a big receiver that could fill the role of Bennie Fowler. I like what he did last spring, as he generated plenty of buzz then, too.

Matt Sokol sounds like our best physical specimen at tight end in a long time. Will he likely redshirt because Michigan State is so strong there?

All of this seems to be correct. Sokol, reportedly, has put up the best bench press numbers for a freshman tight end that coach Jim Bollman has seen in his time as a coach. That says a lot about him. He does figure to redshirt, though, because the depth is really good between Josiah Price, Jamal Lyles and Andrew Gleichert.

Has Taiwan Jones nailed down the middle linebacker spot or is there still some doubt about that where he still might be shifted outside?

I don’t think it is certain that he has nailed it down, but I believe he still leads the battle. It is a long way until the first game and things happen within the season, too. A move outside would not be too much of a challenge for Jones, as that is where he played the first three years of his career. If that were to happen, it would take a push from Jon Reschke or something else to show they have command of the defense and can have a Max Bullough-type presence.

What are your thoughts on the lack of depth in Michigan State's front court this year after Kenny Kaminski was dismissed? How do you see the 2015 recruiting class finishing out?

I think Kaminski's loss hurts Michigan State more than they want to believe right now. He is a player who helps stretch the floor and is a knockdown shooter that the team might be lacking if Bryn Forbes does not get a waiver to play immediately. As importantly, assuming his progress defensively continued, the Spartans certainly need big bodies inside. As for the recruiting question, Caleb Swanigan remains the target Michigan State really wants to land. Jalen Brunson fits that category as well. I think overall they look to add another big man and a wing to the group that already includes Deyonta Davis and Kyle Ahrens.

Biggest impact as a true frosh: Madre London or Malik McDowell?

If I had to guess overall biggest impact today, it would be someone else (Montae Nicholson). That said, I lean McDowell at this point. Defensive tackle is a bigger position of need for this team in fall camp. He brings a big inside presence that is needed and a skill set that has to be on the field. In other words, it will be London because I said McDowell.

It sounds like Montae Nicholson has come into camp ready to play this season. If he does play, where will it be?

It looks like it will be cornerback right now as he is running with the second-string defense at the spot. I have been told he is the No. 3 cornerback at the moment. I know the popular thought is if he will play wide receiver ultimately, and maybe he will, but right now his early impact will be on defense.

Does it look like Lawrence Thomas is fully healthy? No nagging minor injuries?

It looks like all is clear with Thomas and he will be ready to make an impact this season.

How many more recruits do you think Michigan State will take in this class? Best guess how as to how you could see it fill out?

I would assume three to five or so. I think, positionally, it will fill out with another receiver, an offensive lineman and a defensive lineman. It isn’t hard to see another receiver and running back making his way into the mix, with John Kelly potentially filling both in a way. A linebacker is the next possibility.

What position do you see as the biggest question mark as far as who the starter may be? What position do you feel has the least or weakest depth?

There is not really a position that is a big question mark in terms of talent, but I think the SAM (money) linebacker spot might be up for grabs a little bit more than people realize. Ed Davis is expected to be the starter, but Riley Bullough is right there trying to take that spot. For the most part, positions are fairly entrenched. As far as having a lack of depth, one thing that concerns me is the wide receiver situation. Michigan State is very, very upperclassmen heavy. So while the depth is outstanding right now, in two years, it will be a question mark. At present, offensive tackle is not a strong position with depth. Jack Conklin is a solid starter, while Kodi Kieler and Donavon Clark have the right tackle spot held down. After that, though, there is little to no experience or sure talent – just a lot of freshmen right now.

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