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MSU Football Spring Practice Brings a Major New Component: Competition!

Who will replace Justin Kershaw and Brandon Long on the D-Line? Who will start in the linebacking corps alongside Greg Jones? Who’s going to be under center with Hoyer gone? And Will ANYONE be able to replace Javon Ringer?


Most people would read these questions and think the team is headed back down to the bottom of the Big 10 where they came from. But not to fear, just look at Coach Dantonio’s track record and you’ll realize that just because a few key players left doesn’t mean there aren’t others who will work like hell to get on the field.


When Mark Dantonio came to East Lansing many wondered if there was enough depth for his team to be successful within his first two seasons. That was answered to the tune of a 16-9 regular season record and two bowl appearances. No longer are there questions about depth, in fact there are now concerns that there may be too many good players at certain positions (cough…Linebacker….cough) to the point where some deserving young man may not see the field very often.


Jones, Gordon, Denson, Decker, Jahmiir Williams. All of these players have a legitimate claim to why they should be in the starting three at linebacker, but they’d better stay ready because three stud ‘backers are coming in this fall with a chance to knock them out of the rotation.


Same thing goes for Wideouts. White, Dell, Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, Fred Smith, Donald Spencer; all these players have a shot at being the #1 receiver going into next season, but any of them could also land on the scrap heap if they aren’t careful.


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All of this creates the one component that every major successful program has year in and year out: Competition.


Coming into this spring the coaching staff said only two positions were locked up; Rocco Cironi at Left Tackle and Greg Jones at Middle Linebacker. Outside of that every other position, including QB, is up for grabs and believe it or not that is actually a good thing.


It is easy to find comfort in having a set slate of starters well before the season begins. But injecting the spirit of competition drives every player, from walk-ons to captains, to work incredibly hard because if they don’t there is another player eagerly waiting in the wings to steal the spotlight.


Players in spring practice, specifically Linebackers, Offensive Lineman and Wide Receivers, must take advantage of this opportunity because not all the fighters are even in the ring yet. MSU brought in an outstanding recruiting class this past year but those players, with limited exceptions, will not be on campus until fall practice. If they are smart, the current Spartans will use this time to prove to the coaches that they deserve to be on the field on Saturdays because once the freshman get in town, all bets are off.


This years spring practice will the most competitive in a very long time, certainly the most since Coach D has been on the headset and while these questions may not all be answered by semesters end, some players will certainly distance themselves from the competition before summer.