March 30, 2012

Dantonio sees 'maximum effort' on first day in pads

EAST LANSING - Mark Dantonio would have liked to have seen fewer unforced errors and more plays in traffic from his young wide receivers, but the sixth-year Michigan State head coach came away from the first practice in pads this spring pleased with the effort he saw team wide.

"We are getting maximum effort out here and we were out here for about two and a half hours," said Dantonio. "We did a lot of live work, so things are good."

Dantonio has seen a sense of urgency from the underclassmen receivers fighting to replace the senior trio of B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, and Keith Nichol.

"Right now our wide receiver position is a position that was sort of depleted so we are counting on guys like Tony Lippett to step in there and Keith Mumphery," said Dantonio. "I thought that AJ Sims had a good practice today. DeAnthony Arnett is working into to situations, very smooth catches the ball clean. Those four guys are the guys that I noticed. Obviously we are missing Bennie Fowler right now.

"I think there is a sense of urgency. Lippett has played out there. Mumphery has played out there. Those two guys are coming into their third year. Obviously, Bennie Fowler will be going into his fourth year and he will be out here at the end of spring. And then we have some young guys and we have recruited some young guys."

The program's lone January enrollee in the Class of 2012, Kyle Kerrick, remains a player the Spartans believe could contribute as a rookie wide receiver. At present, however, the Pennsylvania product is scrambling to learn the Michigan State offense.

"Kyle Kerrick is a guy with ability," but he is like a second semester senior in high school, so he is swimming a little bit. He has physical ability, but you are going to see the upside of him being here as a January enrollee in the fall."

A position of depth one year ago with proven seniors Brian Linthicum and Garrett Celek to go along with underclassmen Dion Sims and Derek Hoebing, tight end is one of thinner positions on the Spartan roster this spring.

Sims and Hoebing are the lone scholarship tight ends taking reps this spring. Hard-working walk-on Andrew Gleichert and converted defensive end Denzel Drone round out the top four tight ends in the Spartan program.

"We moved Denzel Drone over there and Denzel did some good things today too," said Dantonio. "We've got a nucleus people, we have a foundation and we will build on that."


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