Scouting the Big Ten: Michigan St

After a year of mishap, misfortune and many problems, MSU looks to right the ship with John L. Smith. A coach that has successfully steered programs in the past, he will have his work cut out for him. After having the second player drafted last April it looks, as though the Spartans may not have a first day pick next year.

Offensively, the program has three solid line prospects. Steve Stewart is an athletic tackle that moves about the field well but must learn to improve the details of his position as well as find a way to play with balance since he is constantly all over the place.

Paul Harker and Joe Tate, the starting guards, are similar prospects; both are very strong and handle opponents at the point yet lack the agility and athleticism to be effective in space.

Aptly named, Jeff Smoker was a prospect to watch several years' ago but fell on hard times last season. In a nutshell, Smoker has good arm strength but his accuracy is woeful as are his off the field decisions.

Were their to be a Spartan drafted in the first day it could very well be Greg Taplin, an underrated defensive end that looks to be a solid prospect on the left side. Taplin is deceptively strong and easily holds the point against blocks, getting free to defend the run. He also has the skill to rush the passer. There are some character concerns but if he straightens his act out and does well as a senior, he will be in high demand come April.

Ronald Stanley is an outstanding linebacker prospect and the junior must be closely watched the next two years.

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