Spartans Loaded at TE Heading Into 2009 Campaign

Hondo S. Carpenter

Spartans Loaded at TE Heading Into 2009 Campaign

 

It is amazing how things change so fast in college football. Mark Dantonio the MSU head coach and Don Treadwell the offensive coordinator love to use TE’s in their offensive scheme. As they prepare to enter the 2009 campaign the Spartans are loaded with one of the deepest and best TE groups in the Big Ten and perhaps the nation. They finally have the arrows in the quiver to fully develop that part of their scheme that they hadn’t been able to in their previous two seasons.

 

The Spartans welcome back junior Charlie Gantt who has gotten better seemingly each time he stepped on the field. He is number one on the Spring depth chart, but chasing him is sophomore Garrett Celek who ended the 2008 season with marked improvement, as he got more comfortable in the system as 2008 season progressed.

 

Another sophomore, who isn’t getting a lot of discussion but who has made some great catches and appears to be gaining confidence each day of Spring ball is David Duran.  Both Duran and Celek had great off season workouts and are bigger, faster and stronger. Just think about that. Three very good TE’s, but to quote Paul Harvey: “Now the rest of the story.”

 

Sophomore transfer from Clemson, Brian Linthicum brings in a very good skill set that puts him immediately in the mix for playing time. Linthicum has turned some heads this Spring as he has made some great catches and is adapting well to the blocking scheme, having played last year on the scout team.

 

The Spartans are nearing the end of Spring ball and they have four legitimate TE’s that are all capable of contributing. Are you ready for more information overload? Three of the four TE’s have three years of eligibility left. Gantt is the oldest and is a junior, he has two left.

 

Dantonio and Treadwell certainly will have no issues getting guys involved. They have already proven the ability to get as much out of what they have in their first two incredible seasons. With the Spartans adding an option element to their already pro set style, even more opportunities for two set TE formations simply opens the door to utilize even more the talented blocking skills of these good pass catchers.

 

Mark Dantonio told me right after he came to MSU, “As a staff we have to develop what we have. I don’t think it is good for any coach to not keep some flexibility based upon the talent and opportunity you have. You can have a system, but it has to evolve each year with your strengths.”Â

 

Dantonio learned that under the tutelage of his mentor and dear friend Jim Tressel who changed many of the facets of the offense they ran with the addition of Terrelle Pryor after the 2008 season opened. You saw how he made a change after week one of the season from an offense that he had run for years (and MSU runs now) simply because the talent he had warranted it.

 

As if the glut of four good TE’s isn’t enough, the Spartans also added one of the bests TE’s in the nation for the 2009 recruiting class in Dion Sims. They also promised Sims that if he is red shirted (a very big possibility) that he will get to leave the Spartan football program the night of Midnight Madness so he could join the Spartans basketball program early with so much talent ahead of him.

 

The Spartans staff has not had the threat at TE in the first two seasons that they wanted. That is not to say that they haven’t had talent, they simply didn’t have the depth of talent that they like to have. They do now and the Spartan Nation needs to keep a keen eye on the tight end position both in the spring game and as the season approaches.

 

There is no secret that the WR group at MSU struggled mightily catching the ball. Dropped passes plagued them and at times, QB Brian Hoyer was forced to lock on to receivers simply because many of them had fallen out of confidence in their ability to catch. With such a deep TE grouping, each with good hands and the accompanying blocking skills, the Spartans will be able to not be as dependent on a receiving group if they struggle again in 2009 with holding onto the football.

 

The TE group is the deepest position on the 2009 roster with depth and talent. With the OL struggling as they try to improve this spring, that can’t make anyone happier than the QB’s. With a struggling line, those extra blockers and short route and slant passes help them out considerably.

 

The Spartan football program is accumulating talent and even though they are young and they have growing pains ahead, the Spartan Nation can look ahead fondly of where this program is heading and at what the future holds.Â

 

With four very good TE’s already on the roster and ready to play, and one of the nation’s best on his way, the future of the Spartan aerial and rushing attack seems to be in good hands! With these wide bodies and the offensive coaching staff that knows what to do with them, it is just another sign of hope that MSU is out of it’s long nightmare and Spartan football is back on secure ground.

 

 

 

 

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