Why? Sims has NFL size (6-foot-7, 280-pounds), agility and ability. He's made an impact at tight end, and if he stays there, he'll eventually become the starter. But MSU has an embarassment of riches at the tight end position. Starter Charlie Gantt, backup Brian Linthicum and injured Garrett Celek are all capable players that can block and catch the football.
MSU needs someone who can get after the quarterback consistently. While Jerel Worthy has been a revelation with five sacks, the linebacking corps has been the source of quarterback pressures. Greg Jones has 5 1/2 sacks and Eric Gordon has three.
Coach Dantonio admitted that Sims has begun getting some reps at the position in the hopes that he can produce.
"We'll see if we can teach him a little something (and) see if we can get (him) on the field, but he's an excellent football player. We have a good group of tight ends. Position of depth has been tight end for us. I just want to make sure that he's playing significantly on this football team on the offense and if he has an opportunity maybe on the defense in special situations like Kellen (Davis now with Chicago) did in '07 a little bit. We'll see if it works or not, but it's always fun to try. He's an excellent athlete and big body guy with quicks."
Defensive line coach Ted Gill is lobbying very hard to keep Sims on defense and when informed by the media that Gill said "pretty emphatically that Dion Sims at tight end is not going to happen."
"That's nice," joked Dantonio to a room full of laughter. "I call the shots," he said smiling. "But like I said today, period seven, you got him. But it's a seven-minute thing, we'll see what he can do. It's just an experiment type of thing. We do that all the time. We did the same thing with Chris L. at wide receiver a year ago, and he did a good job and so he was a guy that could go in and play a little bit.
Dantonio described the parameters that would determine who much Sims plays at defensive end.
"We did the same thing with Kellen (Davis) in '07. We popped him in there for a couple of plays and he ended up playing a couple of plays and give the guys a rest and provides a little speed off the edge or athletic ability, but we cannot put a person in there who cannot succeed because of (lack of) knowledge."
"So it's got to be very limited (because) of what we do and allow him to use his athletic abilities. He's a tight end and not a defensive end, and he will remain a tight end, but we will be able to use him as other positions a little bit. I think we need to use the best football players we have and never close our eyes and be -- we need to think out of the box a little bit at times."
I told Dion Sims when he first committed to MSU that I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up at defensive end because having covered the NFL for nine years, he had the same if not better size and agility than many NFL defensive ends.
Once he starts producing, don't be surprised if the tight end position fades into the black for this super-talented freshman.