Evaluating Michigan State's Offensive Depth Chart after Spring Ball

Evaluating Michigan State's Offensive Depth Chart after Spring Ball

Evaluating Michigan State's Offensive Depth Chart after Spring Ball

Now that spring practice is over; Spartan Nation projects Michigan State's offensive depth chart heading into summer.
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East Lansing, Mich. – Spring football is officially over, nine players have entered the portal since Michigan State's open practice ended, and the depth chart is shaking out. 

With the Spartans spring game plainly in the rearview mirror, we have a better grasp of players who gained ground and lost some. 

Listed below is our projection of MSU's offensive depth chart heading into summer. 

Quarterback

Starter: Payton Thorne (rs-so.) OR Anthony Russo (grad transfer)

Reserve: Noah Kim (so.), Hampton Fay (fr.)

Lost in the transfer portal: Rocky Lombardi and Theo Day

Breakdown: It's hard to draw concrete conclusions based on a spring game, but it's clear Thorne is currently in the lead. He has a good understanding of the offense, the playbook, and what coordinator Jay Johnson wants to accomplish. Russo, who arrived in January, is still trying to catch up.

The Pennsylvania native said he wants to be much further along by August, and he has plenty of time to do so. However, I'm going with Thorne for now.

Running Back

Starter: Kenneth Walker (rs-so.)

Reserves: Elijah Collins (rs-jr.), Jordon Simmons (so.), Connor Heyward (rs-sr.) 

Lost in the transfer portal: Anthony Williams Jr. and Andre Welch

Breakdown: It didn't take long for everyone to realize Kenneth Walker III is the real deal. A few carries into Michigan State's open practice, and it was easy to see as he hit holes with authority, flashed his agility, and showcased his vision.

Walker was a regular workhorse at Wake Forest, and there's no reason he can't bring it to East Lansing.

Looking towards the others, Collins is in great shape and closer to the back fans adored in 2019. After he revealed his COVID-19 diagnosis, it was easy to understand why it seemed like he lost a step last year. Now, running backs coach William Peagler says he's a different player this spring, and I expect him to contribute in the fall.

Simmons is still a talented individual with his best football ahead of him.

Heyward received some snaps with the first team, and Harold Joiner III should bring even more competition to the room when he arrives on campus. 

Wide Receiver

Starters: Jalen Nailor (rs-jr.), Jayden Reed (rs-jr.), Terry Lockett Jr. (so.)

Reserves: Tre Mosley (rs-so.), Montorie Foster (so.), Ian Stewart (so.)

Lost in the transfer portal: Tre'Von Morgan, Javez Alexander

Breakdown: Wide receiver is Michigan State's deepest position on the roster (thanks to the transfer portal). 

Nailor and Reed will be starters, but the third spot is up for grabs, and in terms of the roster we saw during the spring game, Lockett got plenty of snaps alongside MSU's star wideouts.

Lockett is an athletic and speedy wide receiver, but guys like Mosley, Foster, Stewart, CJ Hayes, and Cade McDonald will compete for additional first-team reps.

As will 2021 signee Keon Coleman and transfers Christian Fitzpatrick (Louisville) and Maliq Carr (Purdue). The Spartans added size at the position, and if need be, Carr could most to tight end considering his 6-5 and 230-pound frame. 

Tight End

Starter: Trent Gillison (rs-jr.) OR Tyler Hunt (rs-sr.)

Reserves: Parks Gissinger (rs-jr.), Kameron Allen (fr.), Adam Berghorst (jr.)

Lost to the transfer portal: Max Rosenthal and Tommy Guajardo

Breakdown: As a former four-star prospect, this coming season should be Gillison's for the taking. He has the talent, skills, and ability to play the position, but he hasn't put it all together (yet). 

In 2020, Hunt was the best tight end on the roster and figures to receive some playing time. Though, a former walk-on punter becoming one of the more productive skill position players speaks to the lack of depth here. 

Gissinger played quite a bit during the spring game, and Allen was with the second and third-team offenses most of the day. Berghorst is a dual-sport athlete playing baseball, but at 6-foot-7, he'll be a huge target for whoever is under center. 

Offensive Line

Starters: LT AJ Arcuri (sr.), LG J.D. Duplain (jr.), C Matt Allen (sr.) OR Nick Samac (jr.), RG Kevin Jarvis (rs-sr.), RT Jarrett Horst (rs-jr.)

Reserves: RG Matt Carrick (sr.), G/C Blake Bueter (sr.), LT Dan VanOpstall (rs-jr.) LG James Ohonba (rs-jr.), G/T Luke Campbell (sr.), G/T Spencer Brown (rs-so.)

Lost in the transfer portal: Devontae Dobbs, Justin Stevens, and Damon Kaylor

Breakdown: There's some solid competition brewing along the offensive line, but during MSU's final spring practice, many contributors didn't dress, including LT AJ Arcuri, LG J.D. Duplain, OL Blake Bueter, and OL Luke Campbell.

The Spartans are looking for the best five guys, so there's going to be plenty of shuffling around here. In Arcuri's absence, Horst took most of the first-team reps at LT. 

VanOpstall had a rough day while backing up Horst, and in the event of an injury, I think the staff would move Horst to left tackle.

Duplain will remain the starter at left guard, but without him on the field, we saw plenty of Ohonba. The backup spot will be between him and Bueter. 

Allen vs. Samac is a battle to keep an eye on; bringing Allen back for a sixth year made sense due to his leadership, but they both seemed pretty even. 

The most intriguing position here remains at right guard. Horst's presence should allow Kevin Jarvis to move back to guard rather than right tackle, meaning Arcuri, Jarvis, and Horst could all be on the field at once. 

For now, it appears Jarvis will continue playing RT with Spencer Brown, who appeared productive, coming in behind him. 


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East Lansing, Mich. – Spring football is officially over, nine players have entered the portal since Michigan State's open practice ended, and the depth chart is shaking out. 

With the Spartans spring game plainly in the rearview mirror, we have a better grasp of players who gained ground and lost some. 

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