Spartan Football Faces a Good Problem: DEPTH!



Team first is the motto and with depth at every spot, it's also the answer!  Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

Team first is the motto and with depth at every spot, it's also the answer! Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.



With less than a month remaining before the annual Green-and-White spring football game, there are already plenty of roster battles taking place.


There’s Isaiah Lewis and Jairus Jones battling it out for Marcus Hyde’s old position of strong safety. Then you have a myriad of players trying to fill in Chris L. Rucker’s cleats at the cornerback position or a safety spot, including Darqueze Denard, Mitchell White, Dana Dixon, Mylan Hicks, and hybrid freshman Tony Lippett.


The point is, these are only two examples of a spring roster stocked full of options. Having a scenario in which talented young players competitively claw and fight for the right to be named a starter on a Big Ten roster is a good problem for head coach Mark Dantonio to have, as he and his fellow coaches can evaluate each position on a case-by-case basis and come to the conclusion of what makes the most sense for the team moving forward.


With the amount of tremendous athletes attempting to wow the coaching staff, it is inevitable that some players are not going to see the field much, if at all, when the real action begins. Spartans offensive line coach Mark Staten recently talked to Spartan Nation and said that he could see many of the starting jobs being competitive through the fall.


The offensive line’s position battles are arguably the best thing to keep on eye on as the spring game fast approaches, with Jared McGaha, David Barrent and Michael Dennis vying for the starting spot at left tackle. A slew of players – including Ethan Ruhland, Blake Treadwell, Nate Klatt and Travis Jackson – are going for the starting center position.


While many of the position battles are very competitive already, one thing is apparent: not all of the players have a plethora of experience. Staten said himself that you can never make up for experience, but he is really impressed by his players’ work ethic thus far and said that each day is another showcase for them to show how good they really are and the type of players they can be on Saturdays.


“Like our guys (on the offensive line) may have said, they want to be two deep at every position,” Staten said. “The nice thing about it is, they are hard workers but they’re team guys. That’s what you want on the O-line, and the depth is great.


“But it’s young depth, which is the key. We have four guys who started one game or more, so they are all battling it out and we’ll see what happens,” he said.


This is the time of year for players to make an early name for themselves, from the staunch offensive linemen to the array of talented running backs. With the huge jump in team depth as opposed to the first year the Dantonio regime came to town, the Michigan State faithful should continue to see a solid product on the gridiron.

When Spartan Nation asked Staten about the fact many players who won’t play next year would have started in year one, when the staff arrived he added, “Or year two.” That tells you a lot. The Spartans are still very young, but they are also very talented and very deep. 

Register today for free or log in to access this premium article.