Big Ten: Henry Conway

Big Ten lunch links

August, 20, 2010
I don't like tests, that's why I didn't go to college. Don't test me, 'cause I will fail a majority of the time.

Opening camp: Michigan State

August, 9, 2010
Schedule: The Spartans hit the field for their first preseason practice today at 3:30 p.m. ET.

What's new: Mark Dantonio made his first staff change in quite some time, as he hired running backs coach Brad Salem to replace Dan Enos, who left to become Central Michigan's head coach. The Spartans are transitioning to a 3-4 alignment on defense as they look to maximize their talent there. Keith Nichol, who spent most of the 2009 season as Michigan State's No. 2 quarterback, has a new position: wide receiver. Although Michigan State has good depth at receiver, Nichol enters the season as a projected starter.

Sidelined: The Spartans are relatively healthy entering camp. Offensive tackle Henry Conway is fully cleared to practice after sustaining a neck injury. Linebacker Justin Wilson, an 2010 recruit, isn't on the roster and will spend time at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. The December on-campus assault involving Spartans players resulted in the departures of several players, including nose tackle Oren Wilson.

Key battle: Offensive line is a group to watch this month, and especially the competition at right tackle. Senior J'Michael Deane and junior Jared McGaha are listed as co-starters on the preseason depth chart. Conway, who generated some buzz before his neck injury, should be right in the mix. Another battle takes place at kicker, as Kevin Muma and Dan Conroy try to replace standout Brett Swenson.

New on the scene: Michigan State's recent recruiting success is well documented, and the coaches should see the fruits of their labor this fall. Two incoming recruits, William Gholston and Max Bullough, will enter the rotation at linebacker right away. Running backs Nick Hill and LeVeon Bell also might work their way into the mix.

Back in the fold: Johnny Adams started two games at cornerback as a freshman in 2008 before missing 10 games last fall with a shoulder injury. Granted a medical hardship, Adams returns and enters camp as a projected starter. Michigan State's secondary really needs playmakers, and Adams could provide a big boost this fall.

Breaking out: Keshawn Martin made the most of his touches in 2009, averaging 22.8 yards per reception, 28.9 yards per kick return and 7.4 yards per punt return. Michigan State will make a much stronger effort to get the ball in Martin's hands this fall. All-American Greg Jones is the leader on defense, but the Spartans also need promising young players like Jerel Worthy, Blake Treadwell, Trenton Robinson and Adams to step up.

Quotable: "We have a lot of experience back. That speaks to our leadership as a program and as a team right now. From the way our players have worked thus far and winter workouts, spring practice and now summer conditioning, it would not seem that we're overconfident. We have some things that we need to prove. I think that's very evident." -- head coach Mark Dantonio

Big Ten lunch links

August, 3, 2010
Since there are so many links, I've broken this up into two categories for you.



Big Ten lunch links

April, 9, 2010
In Columbus today, visiting with the Big Ten champs.

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Last spring, all eyes were on the quarterback position at Michigan State, with an occasional glance toward the running backs.

Both backfield positions are pretty much settled this year, as Kirk Cousins is the clear No. 1 quarterback and sophomores Larry Caper and Edwin Baker will share carries at running back. The Spartans are also well stocked at both wide receiver and tight end, losing only one major contributor in Blair White and gaining a potential star wideout in converted quarterback Keith Nichol.

[+] EnlargeDantonio
Brett Davis/US PresswireMark Dantonio knows he has some holes to fill on his offensive line.
So where's the drama for Michigan State's offense in spring ball? Look no further than the offensive line.

The Spartans lose three linemen with significant starting experience -- center Joel Nitchman, tackle Rocco Cironi and guard Brendon Moss -- from a front five that allowed the fewest sacks (14) in the Big Ten last fall. Head coach Mark Dantonio will lean on left guard Joel Foreman and left tackle D.J. Young, and center John Stipek started three games while Nitchman was out with an injury.

But other than those three, the Spartans have plenty of question marks up front, which means plenty of competition this spring.

"You'd like to have your two-deep solidified coming out of [spring practice]," Dantonio said Tuesday. "We have enough people. Guys have made strides. But the key is, have they been playing? Have they been coached? Have they actively been doing this?"

The right side of the Spartans' line is wide open, as a large group of players competes at both spots, including Jared McGhaha, Chris McDonald, J'Michael Deane, John Deyo and Antonio Jeremiah, a converted defensive lineman. Several redshirt freshmen also are in the mix, including tackles Henry Conway and David Barrent.

"There's some youth in there that we're trying to polish up," offensive coordinator Don Treadwell said.

Dantonio said McGaha is "making a move" at tackle this spring, while McDonald is working as the team's starting right guard right now. Redshirt freshman Nate Klatt is pushing Stipek for the starting center spot.

Both Dantonio and Treadwell singled out Klatt for his play this spring.

Michigan State finished second in the Big Ten in passing last fall, while the run game slipped to 73rd nationally. Don't expect those trends to continue, as the Spartans want to re-establish the run behind Caper, Baker and, hopefully, a solid line.

"We didn't run it as well as we needed to run it, that's the bottom line," Dantonio said. "We've got numbers [at offensive line] and they've all improved, and you see the result of that."

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Several things stand out about Michigan State's recruiting class, the first of which is plainly obvious.

Barring a series of busts, this will be the Spartans' best recruiting haul in quite some time.

The class currently stands at 22 members after the recent additions of offensive tackle Henry Conway and outside linebacker Denzel Drone. Michigan State has addressed nearly every position on the field and loaded up at offensive line (five commits), linebacker (five commits) and wide receiver/tight end (five commits).

Perhaps most important, the Spartans will add a pair of running backs in Edwin Baker and Larry Caper, both of whom might compete for carries right away. Michigan State failed to develop a back behind Javon Ringer this season and needs to fill a major void there (nation-high 370 carries).

The local flavor of the Spartans' commitments also stands out. Drone, a Floridian who committed during the weekend, is the first Michigan State commit not hailing from Big Ten territory. Michigan State has 12 in-state commits and seven from Ohio, a state Mark Dantonio has recruited for years.

In contrast, Michigan State's 28-man class of 2005 had more than half of its members (15) coming from non-Big Ten states.

I never get too high on recruiting because the bust quotient simply is too high, while several Big Ten teams always get more from supposedly inferior talent. But Michigan State certainly looks like a bright spot for the Big Ten heading into national signing day.