Tight Ends Look To Step Up Big For MSU

East Lansing, Mich. – The 2014 Michigan State football season saw the Spartans put up one of the most prolific offensive attacks in the history of the program, led by a solid group of veteran skill players.

In 2015, the Spartans will have to find new players to build around senior quarterback, as a large number of seniors graduated on offense. While there is still depth at the receiver and running back spots, one position is looking to step up their game – the tight ends.

“I know the tight ends, we’ve got a lot of guys who have played a lot of football for us,” said redshirt junior tight end Josiah Price. “With me, Paul Lang, and Jamal Lyles, I feel pretty confident with us doing just about anything.”

Price, who is the most experienced out of the group, will look to be the leader of the position in 2015. The Spartans have a lot of depth at the spot, and Price is ready to step up and take the lead.

“I think I’m just going to be relied on more,” Price said. “My first year, I made a couple plays here and there, my second year I got looked at a little more, and the third year I think it’s going to be the same way.”

With the loss of passing weapons like Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery, third-year starting quarterback Connor Cook will need some new targets to look for when dropping back to pass.

Last season, Price finished fourth on the team in receiving yards, with 374 yards on 26 catches and six touchdowns. Outside of price, the only other two tight ends to record a catch were Jamal Lyles and Paul Lang, but Price feels the group can pick up the slack.

“Having a guy like Jamal Lyles in the room too, and Paul Lang, Matt Sokol, Dylan Chmura - all of us feel like we can be very viable receivers and tight ends. We should definitely pick up a lot more of the work load than last year.”

Price had some high praise for Lyles, the redshirt junior who has yet to break through on offense.

Price mentioned his ability to get open and blocking as things he’s noticed, by Lyles said it’s his understanding of the offense that has helped him improve.

“I feel like just knowing everything that everybody has to do,” Lyles said. “Every run play, every adjustment, every route - now I can succeed unconsciously without thinking about it. It just feels like going back to high school, like I don’t have to think about football, I just go out there and play.”

Both Price and Lyles mentioned that the offense has been doing some experimenting, especially with the tight ends.

Different types of formations, two tight end sets, and flexing out to the tight ends to the wide out spots were both mentioned by the two players. With a quarterback like Cook returning next season, Lyles thinks the tight ends will be something to watch for come fall.

“The tight end position is going to be great,” Lyles said. “Me and Josiah, we’re out there a lot in two tight ends. We can run the ball, pass the ball, he can play the tight end spot in the slot, I can play the tight end spot in the slot. We can both be out there at the same time, and that keeps defenses off balance.”

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