With signing day over, the snow may be high around the high cathederal of the Spartan Nation, but our eyes are on spring football.  Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

With signing day over, the snow may be high around the high cathederal of the Spartan Nation, but our eyes are on spring football. Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

 

The Capital One Bowl quickly brought Spartans everywhere humbly back to earth after a record setting eleven win season.  2010 was an exceptional year for the Spartan football program.  Mark Dantonio’s team gutted out some very tough, dramatic, come from behind wins, but our Spartans were exposed on New Year’s Day against Alabama. 

 

If MSU is to compete for championships and win against top-ten programs, they have to get better on both the offensive and defensive lines.  This will be Mark Dantonio’s first spring with only his recruits on the roster.  There is a lot to look forward to before season five of the Dantonio era is upon us.

 

Player development along the offensive and defensive lines will be critical this spring if MSU is to finish at the top of their division.  In this week’s article, we will focus on the offensive line.

 

Offensive tackles D.J. Young and J’Michael Deane were solid performers up front, but they were never as dominant as they needed to be against tougher competition.  The lone exception may have been against Wisconsin.  Center John Stipek will need to be replaced as well, but there are capable players waiting in the wings.

 

Junior Ethan Ruhland is the most versatile offensive lineman on the MSU roster.  He will likely get a look at offensive tackle this spring.  Redshirt freshman Skyler Schofner has All-Big Ten potential, but will have to grow up quickly to be Big Ten ready.  Schofner looks the part.  The question going into this spring will be whether he is ready to anchor the edge for Cousins and a bevy of experienced tailbacks.  Fou Foutini will not be a part of the spring roster.  He will not arrive from the JC ranks until the fall.

 

Third-year sophomore tackle David Barrent has all of the physical tools to be a dominant offensive tackle.  Some thought he might earn the job this past fall, but he wasn’t consistent enough to put on the edge last season as a starter.  Barrent could very well earn one of the starting tackle positions this spring, but needs to show more consistency and aggression if he is get the job.  The MSU staff is looking for David to make big strides this spring.  His development will be crucial heading into the fall.

 

Jared McGaha is the consummate team player.  He will line up anywhere if it means that he is helping his team.  McGaha’s versatility makes him a real asset to the offensive line.  He has the ability to play both guard and tackle.   McGaha could make a legitimate claim to one of the tackle positions this spring.  He has the ability to perform as well as his 2010 predecessors.  The question is whether or not he can raise his game this spring and be better than the guys that played ahead of him last season.

 

Nate Klatt pushed Stipek throughout the spring and fall of 2010.  He has the opportunity to become a real star on the offensive line.  Klatt will have a healthy dose of competition at the position.  Ethan Ruhland is very capable of stepping in and starting at center.  Blake Treadwell will likely spend a good portion of this spring working at center as well.   Blake’s football IQ and experience make his move to the offensive line an easy one to evaluate.  Blake will start somewhere for the Spartans in the fall.  He could very well line up next to Worthy on the defensive line or he could very well cement himself as a starter on the offensive line.  Either way, MSU will look to get the best players on the field. 

 

Chris “Magnus” McDonald and Joel Foreman are locks on the line.  Could one of them move to tackle?  Perhaps, but that is a worst-case scenario.  They both have NFL talent at guard.

 

Spring football promises to be fun and very interesting.  We won’t know much about position experiments until the spring game, but will have an opportunity to see some guys in action that we haven’t seen before.  Offensive lineman John Deyo, Travis Jackson and Michael Dennis and Zach Heuter will get a lot of work as well.  All of these guys bring different things to the table.  I expect there to be surprises from this group throughout spring practice.

 

Dan Roushar the former OL coach and new OC recently told Hondo on Spartan Nation radio that Arthur Ray and Henry Conway are competing in winter conditioning.  Conway had a neck injury and Ray is recovering from cancer.  Roushar said that they both look good and how they handle the winter will determine whether they are ready for fall.

 

Roushar and the Spartan offensive line suffered a major blow last year with the Conway injury.  He was DOMINANT as a true freshman on the scout team and would have started last season at the RT.  When 100% Conway is a star.  Spartan Nation right now continues to THINK recovery for these two young men.  Two superb young men we both want health over football, getting them back on the field is simply an added blessing.