Spartans’ Running Backs Offer Unique Opportunity

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Spartans’ Running Backs Offer Unique Opportunity

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The Spartans’ RB’s, in the Mark Dantonio system, offer some interesting options. Let’s take a look at some strengths and weaknesses each of them has as fall football is only a few days away.

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  1. Javon Ringer: Head and shoulders the best offensive player on this team. He is a stud. He is an exceptional runner. He has tremendous vision and that combined with great balance make him a force. One area of his game that is overlooked is his ability to block and more than the ability he enjoys it. He picks up blitzes extremely well and can catch the ball. He isn’t the biggest guy on the field, but he makes people miss and in traffic with the huge offensive and defensive lineman he gets lost and makes things happen. I had one long time person connected to MSU football tell me, “We have had a lot of great backs at MSU, but not since Lorenzo have we had one that good.” Ringer is a special player and an even better person. There is a reason that many people have called him an elite back and he is.
  2. AJ Jimmerson is a tough runner. He also has very good vision. He has to get better with his pass blocking. Something he acknowledged to me when I asked him what the coaches have been stressing to him to improve, “Pass blocking, definitely.” He has good balance, also. One of the mantras in football is that a good back always makes the first guy miss. Rarely do you see one guy (especially the first) take down Ringer. When you watch Jimmerson play, when he can break the first defensive player, he often times looks special also. He is also a great kid and with a solid fall is poised to get significant reps this season.
  3. Andre Anderson is one of the fastest Spartans. Watching him fly in the spring was fun. He is at his best running north to south. His speed gets neutralized when he goes east and west. The Spartan coaches have emphasized with him that he needs to maximize what he has and just trust his lineman and hit the hole. Often times you see guys with his speed try to be a Ringer type back and “make moves,” but that isn’t what he is. He will be a tremendous Spartan once the youngster truly learns what his talents are. Watching him you quickly notice that when he runs downfield, and not east and west, seldom does that first defender take him down. When he tries to dance they do. It is nothing to be alarmed about because this staff is loaded with exceptional teachers and he is a good student. He worked a lot on that this spring and he is another name that you will see a lot of.
  4. Ashton Leggett is a youngster in the mold of Jehuu Caulcrick. The Spartans love his power running skill and envisioned him as the punch to replace Jehuu. He is a powerful young man and can run with guys on him. This spring, however, he struggled with putting the ball on the ground. In one spring practice he fumbled FOUR times. He won’t see the field playing for Dantonio and fumbling. He has worked diligently with coach Mannie and the Spartan coaches will give him every opportunity this fall to show that it was a spring error and not a major issue. If Leggett can hold onto the ball he will get reps. To his credit, I have been told by more than one person that he worked hard since spring was over. This is one player that I will be keeping a very close eye on in the fall.
  5. Caulton Ray is a true freshman that comes into the Spartan program, and with so much excitement over two 2009 RB’s, some have overlooked him. That is O.K. with the staff, as they haven’t. I can’t wait to see him play this fall. He has a great skill set and I am looking forward to seeing him in competition. Ideally, Anderson, Leggett and Jimmerson all have great 2009 campaigns and he could be red shirted.  With Ringer graduating next year that simply helps him (because as long as Ringer is healthy reps are limited) and the Spartans.

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The running game is back in style in the Spartan Nation and while everyone knows about Javon Ringer, MSU is poised for some other names to be recognized.


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