Arnett stands out in Michigan State's spring game
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) After falling short of expectations for three years, DeAnthony Arnett looks like a different football player, like the one he has always known he could be.
It showed for the third straight weekend, as Arnett's White team defeated the Green 9-3 in the Spartans' spring game Saturday before a record crowd of 48,000.
''It has been a long, long road,'' Arnett said after leading all receivers with five catches for 51 yards. ''I'm here now, so I don't really want to reflect on the past. But a lot of it is being able to work with C.C. (Connor Cook) every day in practice.''
A consensus top 100 recruit from Saginaw (Mich.) High, Arnett had 24 receptions for 242 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman at Tennessee. But after transferring to be closer to his father, who was battling heart and kidney problems, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound receiver was buried on the depth chart.
''He had a good spring,'' Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. ''He caught the ball better. And 2015 might be his time. He has stayed healthy and been more physical. He has been in our top six all along.''
Arnett caught four passes for 33 yards in the first scrimmage and seven balls for 57 yards in the second, both won by the defense. With Saturday's totals, he has 16 catches for 136 yards in three showings.
With the benefit of an injury redshirt year, Arnett could help fill the void with the departure of Tony Lippett and Keith Humphrey, who had game-winning receptions in the 2014 Rose Bowl and 2015 Cotton Bowl, respectively.
Five things to know about the spring practice:
NEW COACHES: When coordinator Pat Narduzzi became the head coach at Pittsburgh, many people wondered about a falloff from recent dominance. But with new co-coordinators Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel, the Spartans should be tough to run against and a nightmare for pass protectors, led by two-time All-American end Shilique Calhoun. Saturday's combined yield was 322 yards in 84 snaps.
STRENGTH WHERE IT COUNTS: Besides having one of the nation's top front sevens, Michigan State should be strong with Cook returning for his third season as the starting quarterback, where his record is 24-3. He'll be working behind a veteran offensive line, led by Jack Conklin at left tackle and 2014 first-team All-American Jack Allen at center.
Lining up at fullback for a gadget play, Allen had the day's only TD on a 3-yard run.
COMPETITION CONTINUES: Sophomore Gerald Holmes and redshirt-freshman Madre London each had their moments at running back, with Holmes dragging defenders for first downs and London ripping off a 50-yard run. But they know they will have to work hard to gain the starting job with the arrival of Ohio standout L.J. Scott this summer.
DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD: Barnett feels good about his secondary, even with the loss of cornerback Trae Waynes and big-play safety Kurtis Drummond. Safeties RJ Williamson and Montae Nicholson, corners Arjen Colquhoun and Jermaine Edmondson and versatile Demetrious Cox are expected to hold up against attacks.
WINNING: Besides the record crowd and a youth clinic with 1,700 kids Saturday, the buzz around a consecutive top-five program with 53 wins the past five years continues to build. The Spartans got four verbal commitments this week. Messiah deWeaver and Justin Layne, the top-rated quarterback and receiver in Ohio, and Abdul Adams, a running back from Washington, D.C.