National Signing Day has come and gone. Next step? The 2018 season.
Michigan State, one of the youngest teams in the nation last year, returns an inordinate amount of production. And that’s coming from a team that finished 10-3 with a Holiday Bowl victory to cap things off.
Things will look largely the same this season, but various departures have shaken things up a bit. Here’s how Michigan State’s depth chart looks on offense.
Quarterback: Brian Lewerke
There’s no question. After Brian Lewerke, Michigan State has a pair of quarterbacks in Rocky Lombardi and Theo Day who have never taken a college snap. Messiah deWeaver’s transfer led to that inexperience, but the Spartans have confidence in Lombardi after a strong redshirt year. They’ll hope they don’t have to go to him until after two years with Lewerke, though.
No. 2: Rocky Lombardi
Running back: LJ Scott
Again, was there any doubt? LJ Scott returns for his senior year with 531 carries to his name. The only other running back with any experience is Connor Heyward, who had 3 carries as a true freshman. This roster is full of young players with little experience and a chance to prove themselves. But Scott will have the bulk of the carries to himself.
No. 2: Connor Heyward
Fullback: Collin Lucas
No change here. Michigan State awarded Collin Lucas a scholarship after his sophomore year with the expectation that he would hold down the position for two years. He’s got one more. With graduate transfer Joe Palange gone, walk-on Max Rosenthal has a shot to get some reps as well.
No. 2: Max Rosenthal
Wide receivers: Felton Davis, Darrell Stewart, Cody White
Felton Davis and Darrell Stewart entered 2017 as the starters and held firm to those positions. Cody White moved into the No. 1 spot against Northwestern and never let it go, setting a true freshman record with 490 receiving yards. Behind them, there’s room for competition. Redshirt freshman C.J. Hayes could get a shot out wide, and Laress Nelson will likely battle it out with 2018 signee Jalen Nailor for the backup slot receiver role.
No. 2: Cam Chambers, Laress Nelson, C.J. Hayes
Tight end: Matt Sokol
Matt Sokol did it all for Michigan State, racking up 222 yards receiving, blocking and making big hits on special teams. Behind him there’s plenty of room for competition. Noah Davis returns, as does sophomore Matt Dotson, and the Spartans also add a 4-star recruit in Trenton Gillison, who coach Mark Dantonio said has a chance to play early.
No. 2: Noah Davis
Left tackle: Cole Chewins
The few times when Cole Chewins wasn’t on the field, right tackle Luke Campbell usually replaced him. Because of that, there isn’t much certainty as to who will back him up. Mustafa Khaleefah trailed him on the depth chart in 2017 but never burned his redshirt.
No. 2: Mustafa Khaleefah
Left guard: David Beedle
David Beedle could start at right guard as well, but with Kevin Jarvis coming into his own as the season rolled on, there’s no need. He has the versatility to hold both positions down, which is why the media presented him All-Big Ten third-team honors. Tyler Higby will likely be the No. 2 here and at center.
No. 2: Tyler Higby
Center: Matt Allen
Called the “heir apparent” by offensive line coach Mark Staten, Matt Allen is the most likely replacement for his older brother Brian. This is the only spot where Michigan State lost a starter, but with another Allen coming in, there’s a good chance not much will change. He’s the third one, and they’ve all been consistent.
No. 2: Tyler Higby
Right guard: Kevin Jarvis
One of two true freshmen to get snaps on the offensive line, Kevin Jarvis returns with every intention of locking up a starting role for himself. He had the typical slip-ups of a first-year player, but he showed maybe the highest potential of anyone on the line.
No. 2: David Beedle
Right tackle: Luke Campbell
Both the starter and the backup remain in place at this spot. Luke Campbell didn’t take the Freshman All-America team spot that Staten brought up as a possibility, but he remained solid throughout the season. And behind him, Jordan Reid got the offense down in a hurry.
No. 2: Jordan Reid