A strong kicking game has been a staple for Michigan State football for several seasons. In recent years, Dan Conroy, Mike Geiger, and Matt Coughlin were all reliable place-kickers for the Spartans.
Coughlin had his moments of struggles more than Conroy and Geiger, but a kicker was never an outlying need while the three of them were in East Lansing. Amongst the three kickers, they only missed five total extra points.
Michigan State’s heir-apparent at the position is true freshman Jack Stone. Can he continue the lineage of reliable Spartans place-kickers? There are high hopes amongst the coaching staff he does.
Rated the No. 6 kicker in the class of 2022 by the 247Sports composite rankings, Stone competed in the Army All-American bowl, highlighting the top players in the country. He enrolled in June and is considered the favorite to be the starter this fall, with walk-on Stephen Rusnak providing competition in training camp.
“At the end of practice we did PAT field goals, so I had a real close eye on our kicking situation, with Rusty [Stephen Rusnack] and Jack Stone,” head coach Mel Tucker said during the first week of camp.
Since the Mark Dantonio era at Michigan State, the Spartans have had quality special teams. Fans remember the infamous “Little Giants” play against Notre Dame in 2010, and the “Trouble with the Snap” play against Michigan in 2015.
That has continued into the Mel Tucker era with All-Conference punter Bryce Baringer and All-American punt returner Jayden Reed. The latter had a marquee moment against Nebraska last season, where he returned a punt for a touchdown to seal the win 24-20.
Both Baringer and Reed return as important pieces on special teams, and their experience will serve the Spartans well. With the addition of Stone, MSU’s special teams units look to contribute to the team’s success in 2022.