EAST LANSING - Imagine a team that has a pro prospect at quarterback, two more at running back and a group of four talented proven returning players in their receiving corps.
Michigan State University head coach John L. Smith doesn't have to imagine it, he'll enjoy watching all that talent on Saturday's this season.
As we've profiled the Spartans at quarterback and at running back, we've made the case that State has arguably the best players at those positions in the conference.
There isn't much dropoff at the wide receiver position. MSU has been able to attract talented players due to the spread offense installed by Smith. This season, MSU will have three returning seniors, one junior, a sophomre and two incoming freshman, all of whom could make a considerable impact on the team's offensive fortunes.
Senior Jerramy Scott returns for what could be his best season at the University. Scott led the team last season with 49 catches for 722 yards and four touchdowns. But Scott could conceivably reach the 1,000 yard mark this year as he and senior quarterback Drew Stanton end their collegiate careers. Scott and Stanton, along with senior Matt Trannon and junior Terry Love have been working out all off-season, hoping to make it pay off with the team's first Rose Bowl appearance since 1990.
Scott, the brother of former Spartans standout Gari Scott, brings a work ethic that has rubbed off on his teammates. He says he learned it from Gari. "My brother...works hard at everything he does. He had to fight his whole life growing up in a single-parent home. Our dad wasn't there to guide us, so he was the man of the house."
The 5-10 slot receiver will have a chance to be Stanton's go-to
receiver, but only if he can hold off his rising teammate Love.
The 6-foot-6, 227-pound Trannon made a name for himself playing
basketball with the Spartans this winter but knows that his professional
potential is on the gridiron. Trannon caught 40 balls for 573 yards and
four touchdowns and is a big target in the red zone. While Trannon has
shown the potential to be the next big thing at MSU, he's been slow to
realize that potential. Going into his fifth year, its now or never.
He'll be a professional, but how high he's drafted depends on him solving
the mental lapses that see him disappear every now and then.
The big play man of this group is junior Terry Love, a 5-foot-11,
172-pounds flanker who appears destined for superstardom. Love caught just
28 balls, but seemed to be the man Stanton looked for when the team
needed and big play and delivered more often than not. His 15.4 average
per catch led the team and his long catch of 45 yards led the team and
he had catches of 40, 39 and 27 yards during the 2005 campaign. Look
for Love to become a bigger part of the offense and become the focus of
the receiving corps in 2006.
Senior Kerry Reed finished third in receiving for MSU and is often
overlooked by his more heralded teammate Trannon, but Reed came up with
some clutch catches for the Spartans. The Miami native caught 31 balls
for 438 yards and led the group with five touchdown catches. He could
press Trannon for the starting split end position in the spread offense.
His combination of size (6-foot-2, 200-pounds) and speed (4.47-40)
helped him to jump in as a JC transfer from Coffeyville, KA. right into the
Behind the top four, it is unknown which of the backups will emerge into the playing group. Ryan Allison, Deon Curry, Carl Grimes and Diego Oquendo are all talented players who could rise to the surface with a good showing in fall practice, but our guess is Grimes, a speedster who was the subject of an intense recruiting war, will get the nod as the fifth receiver in the group. Position group rating: 75
The Spartans have plenty of good hands for quarterback Drew Stanton to throw at, but the real question for the State offense is can the remade offensive line give the stars enough time to execute the scheme?
That's why the MSU offensive line will be the subject of our next article.