(EAST LANSING) - You could read the handwriting on the wall.
Last week, when Jeff Smoker was re-instated to the Michigan State Spartan football team, it seemed inevitable that soon he would be named the starter. After all, last season, many expected Smoker to be the No. 1 quarterback in the Big Ten.
Smoker was ranked among MSU's All-time career passing leaders going into his junior season and seemed poised to break all the marks with Charles Rogers, a consensus all-American wide receiver at his disposal. But things went all wrong for Smoker, who admitted he got caught up in the hype and the glamour that comes with being a big time quarterback from a small town.
Last year it all came to a head with Smoker being suspended from the team indefinitely after admitting to a substance abuse problem. Smoker entered a substance abuse treatment program and followed all the guidelines MSU officials set up for him.
After being reinstated, Smoker took "a giant leap" according to MSU's coaching staff in their annual scrimmage, leading them to name him the No. 1 quarterback.
"Jeff's the No. 1," Spartan head coach John L. Smith proclaimed. "He was starting some separation during all of [preseason camp]. The scrimmage, he took a giant leap. Jeff is beginning to let the offense work for him. He feels more comfortable with the offense every time he steps on the field."
Smoker won't have Rogers, but he'll have someone very similar in size and stature to throw to in 6-6, 228-lb Matt Trannon, a sophomore wide receiver. A non-qualifier last season, Trannon has come on strong in scrimmages.
"Matt Trannon displayed some big-play ability today and quite honestly, that's something that had been missing from our passing game. Matt really competed for the football and made some great catches. Hopefully, his performance removes any question marks he had in his mind. Now, he realizes that he doesn't have to be wide open to make plays. Matt adjusted well to the ball in the air and gave great effort going after it."
Rest assured though, there will not be in giant sized posters of Smoker outside of Spartan Stadium this season. Any accolades for the senior will be earned on the field.