Michigan State football brought in its highest-rated recruiting class in over five years with the 2021 class. While the roster has still experienced a lot of turnover, some true freshmen will get an opportunity to prove themselves right away on the field. Head coach Mel Tucker has utilized the portal a ton in the last two seasons, but that doesn’t mean freshmen haven’t gotten a chance to make an immediate impact.
For example, during the 2020 season, wide receiver Ricky White showed out against Michigan. And, in 2021, cornerback Chuck Brantley sealed the Paul Bunyan trophy with a late interception. Wide receiver Keon Coleman and Linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote played meaningful snaps in multiple games.
So which true freshman can you expect to see on the field this August?
1. CB Caleb Coley — Houston County (Warner Robins, GA)
We all know Michigan State’s defensive backs need to improve from last season. Brantley made a positive contribution last year as a freshman before getting injured, and Coley can do the same. One of the later additions to the 2022 cycle, Coley had a strong spring and caught the eyes of many in practice. The former three-star prospect is incredibly fast, and the coaching staff will find a way to put him on the field this season.
2. S Jaden Mangham — Wylie E. Groves (Franklin, MI)
Another defensive back, Mangham adds much needed depth to the safety position for the Spartans. The former four-star will most likely play free safety in his inaugural season, allowing him to play behind junior Angelo Grose. Mangham has great length, plus tracking skills and doesn’t shy away from contact. He needs to add weight, but he will get playing time this year as a true freshman.
3. WR Germie Bernard — Liberty (Henderson, NV)
The Spartans receiver room is already strong, but Bernard is too talented to keep off the field. He has exceptional ball skills and provides a wide frame for quarterback Payton Thorne to target. Bernard played two years of high school with freshman quarterback Katin Houser, before Houser transferred to St. John Bosco in California. Bernard is another player coaches have raved about since he got to campus in January, and will help provide more depth on the outside for the Spartans.
Other Notable True Freshmen
Defensive tackle Alex VanSumeren was the highest-rated recruit in Michigan State’s 2021 class. He could see some time amongst a loaded defensive interior. Tight end Jack Nickel is another early enrollee that can contribute to a slim tight end room. Quarterback Katin Houser will have a tough time finding the field behind Thorne, but could solidify himself as the backup —and the quarterback in waiting for MSU.
As far as the non-early enrollee freshmen, who didn’t move in to East Lansing until June, it will be harder for those players to see the field as true freshmen, but they’ll get their shot at impressing the coaching staff once fall camp begins in early August. Tucker won’t won’t keep talent on the bench, but early enrollees have a leg up. Those advantages will be more even more apparent at the end of fall camp.