Flint, Michigan has had it’s share of star athletes over the years. One of my early favorites was Quarterback Rick Leach that played high school football in Flint and then signed with the Michigan Wolverines where he was a 4 year starter.
Then, there was Linebacker Carl Banks, Defensive Lineman Terry Crews, Heisman Trophy winning Running Back Mark Ingram, Defensive Back Todd Lyght and many, many more. If you watch random television at all, you probably know about Terry Crews and he is far more than just a football player.
Rison signed with the Spartans and played a lot as a freshman in 1985 hauling in 19 passes for 280
yards and 2 Touchdowns.
His best two seasons were his sophomore season in 1986 and his senior year in 1988. The 1986 season was his best as far as number of receptions when he caught 54 passes for 966 yards and 5 Touchdowns.
As a junior, he caught only 34 passes, but he averaged slightly over 23 yards per reception. His senior year of 1988, was a great season in Spartan history with the team winning the Big 10 and getting the Rose Bowl berth and an upset win over USC.
Bad Moon Rison, as he would later be nicknamed by some, only caught 39 passes, but like his junior year, he was a major deep threat and he averaged over 24 yards per reception.
As most teams were back in those years, the Michigan State Spartans were predominately a running team.
Bobby McAllister was their Quarterback and he was backed by Dan Enos the current Offensive Coordinator for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Blake Ezor was their star Running Back with over 1,400 yards rushing in 1988. Maybe their best player that Rose Bowl year was Percy Snow. Snow Rose Bowl
Andre Rison finished his college career with 146 receptions for 2,992 yards and 20 Touchdowns.
Those numbers weren’t sparkling, but, they were enough to get Andre Rison noticed by NFL scouts, and the Indianapolis Colts took him with their 1st pick in the 1989 NFL Draft. The 6-1, 190 speedster from Flint rose to the top of his game in the NFL.
In 12 NFL seasons, Rison caught 743 passes for 10,205 yards and 84 Touchdowns. Andre ‘Bad
Moon’ Rison was a big play guy.
Michigan State won the Big 10 in 1988, but that didn’t happen again until the fantastic 2013 team led by coach Mark Dantonio and then again in 2015.
2016 was a problem season for the Spartans. They were ranked going in, and opened with a win over Furman and then Notre Dame. But, it all fell apart after their 2-0 start and they lost 7 straight. Their current record is 3-8 with a tough game remaining with Penn State.
Other than their Offensive Line, it’s hard to place a blame with exactly what went wrong. Losing Left Tackle Jack Conklin in the first round of the NFL Draft crushed the Spartan Offensive Line.
But, other than the strong group of Running Backs, they could use a little help;
Talent could be on the way with the 2017 recruiting class.
One of their top recruits comes to East Lansing from right under the noses of their biggest rivals. Ann Arbor Skyline High School product Hunter Rison, obviously the son of Andre Rison has committed to follow in his father’s footsteps at Michigan State.
ESPN has Rison rated as their 46th best Wide Receiver prospect in the country and a 5-11, 195 4
The Spartans will lose top Wide Receiver RJ Shelton and senior Wide Receiver Monty Madaris. They have true freshmen Donnie Corley and Trishton Jackson, but if Hunter Rison is a big play guy like his father was, he should help get that Michigan State offense back up to where it should be. The Spartans, under excellent coach Mark Dantonio are never going to be like a Washington State, or a Texas Tech on the field. Dantonio loves defense and ball control offense powered by the running game mixed in with a few big throws. That said, a big Running Back like LJ Scott and a Quarterback like Kirk Cousins with some big time receivers is what will get them back to winning games and gaining Rose Bowl berths.
Michigan State has some great young talent like Donnie Corley, Vayante Copeland, Raequan Williams, Josh King and Joe Bachie to name a few. But, Hunter Rison could be the spark that they need to get them back to the top of the standings.