Thursday, July 29, 2010
Fresh faces: Michigan State
My look at three newcomers to watch for each Big Ten team in 2010 continues with Michigan State.
OFFENSE: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Fr., 6-2, 230
Bell enrolled early and soon earned his teammates' respect. When Michigan State held its annual draft before the spring game, Bell was the second running back selected, ahead of last year's backup, Edwin Baker. While the snub certainly will motivate Baker in preseason camp, Bell showed this spring that he's the real deal. He's a similar body type to starter Larry Caper but has three inches and 10 pounds on the sophomore. Bell doesn't look like a freshman, and his powerful running style could be an asset in the red zone. Michigan State has had recent success with bigger backs like T.J. Duckett and Jehuu Caulcrick, and Bell might end up being an excellent complement for Caper. The competition at running back should be exciting next month, but Bell should be right in the mix.
DEFENSE: William Gholston, LB, Fr., 6-7, 237
There are a couple of good choices here, but Gholston was branded as an instant-impact player as soon as he committed to the Spartans. Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi won't waste time getting Gholston acclimated, and Narduzzi plans to keep the freshman primarily as a linebacker. As Michigan State transitions to a 3-4 set, Gholston could be extremely dangerous on the outside. His high school credentials are exemplary, and, like Bell, he certainly doesn't look like the average freshman. Ranked as the nation's No. 42 prospect by ESPN Recruiting, Gholston and classmate Max Bullough should provide added depth around veterans Greg Jones and Eric Gordon.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Kevin Muma, K, Fr., 6-0, 180 and Dan Conroy, K, So., 5-10, 185
I listed both players because they remain in a competition to fill a huge void left by All-Big Ten standout Brett Swenson. Given how many close games Michigan State plays, Swenson's leg might be sorely missed this season. Conroy connected on his only career field goal attempt, a 43-yarder last season, while Muma redshirted in 2009. Conroy has the slight edge in experience, appearing in four games last season and handling some kickoffs, but Muma is the more heralded high school prospect after earning PARADE All-America honors. The competition continues during camp, and one of these guys will be in a major role this fall.