Aug 22, 2012

Michigan State Receivers Preview

MSU receivers tweeted by Bennie Fowler, @b_fowler13
By Sean Gagnier

With the departure of so much of the Spartans receiving corps following last season many believe that the inexperience at wide out will hurt Michigan State this season; however, the amount of talent on the field begs to differ.

Coming into the 2012 season, the Spartan receiver with the most catches last year is Dion Sims, who caught 12 passes last year. There is no doubt that this is a young receiving corps, but that isn't to say that it will under perform or that it couldn't even surpass last years group.

Several receivers are not new faces on this team, they have just been biding their time behind stars like Keith Nichol and B.J. Cunningham. Bennie Fowler has battled injuries throughout his career in East Lansing and Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery served their redshirt year under Coach Mark Dantonio and have been putting in work on the practice squad.

Currently, the Spartans depth chart has Fowler and Lippett tied for the "X receiver" position and Mumphery in control of the "Z receiver" position. Close behind Mumphery is Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett. Arnett transferred to Michigan State at the last year when his father's health condition worsened.

Arnett, from Saginaw, Mich., was released from his scholarship by the Volunteers and transferred to the Spartans to be closer to his father. He had to submit a hardship waiver to the NCAA to be eligible to play this season; that waiver was granted and he will most likely see the field this season.

Recruited as a four-star receiver Arnett performed well at Tennessee and will most likely fight his way into a starting job this season. He has proven to be elusive in space after the catch and has explosive speed, but he needs to work on getting off jams.

Fowler, now fully healthy, will most likely be the starting receiver on the right side of the formation. He played in several games last season before his injury, catching two passes for a total of 20-yards. At 6'1" he is smaller, but he plays big and can get off the line quickly.

Fowler's main competition comes from Tony Lippett, who is currently tied with Fowler for the starting "X receiver" job on the preseason depth chart. Lippett stands 6'3" and weighs 190 lbs., a good sized receiver, he will certainly see the field in a rotation that Dantonio will use to keep his receivers rested.

Mumphery is just 6-feet tall, but weighs in at 208 lbs., meaning that while he is on the smaller side, he can get off the smaller defenders and get the inside track on the ball. He has good hands and speed, but no game experience. With Arnett, a veteran of the SEC, breathing down his neck he may not be able to hold onto the "Z receiver" job.

Sims is the only receiver who isn't battling for his job this preseason. Being the player with the most previous catches on the roster, with 12, Sims looks to continue to be solid at the tight end position. Sims is an imposing figure, standing 6'5" and weighing 285 lbs. he is able to hold his own on the line and when he gets up field his size makes him difficult to bring down.

This Michigan State receiving corps is young and lacks game experience, but while they weren't getting reps in games and in practice with Kirk Cousins, they were getting reps on the practice squad with then-backup Andrew Maxwell throwing the passes. Maxwell knows these receivers and they know him, that familiarity is something that quarterbacks always look for in their receivers and these guys have it.

With position battles across the receiving corps those who are rewarded with starting jobs will be the best of the best and help keep the Spartans from losing a beat in the air.

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