The Michigan State Spartans have taken advantage of the recent downfall of their in-state rivals the Michigan Wolverines over the past couple of seasons. For the past 2 years, the Spartans have a 24-3 record which can only be surpassed by a couple of schools like Florida State and Ohio State. Both of those schools, by the way, have won the college football national championships the last 2 seasons.
A big reason for the success of Michigan State has been their defense which was one of the more enjoyable ones to watch in 2013.
But, their offense rose up in 2014, particularly the Offensive Line, Connor Cook, Tony Lippett, and Jeremy Langford. The 2014 version of Michigan State’s offense may have been the best they have ever had. Their come from behind victory over Baylor in the Cotton Bowl was one of the more exciting finishes in college football in 2014.
In 2015, the Spartans return 3 out of 5 Offensive Linemen including All Americans Center Jack Allen and Left Tackle Jack Conklin. Plus, they return excellent Right Tackle Donovan Clark.
They lost steady Offensive Guards Travis Jackson and Connor Kruse, but they have some solid depth up front. Brian Allen and Kodi Kieler should step right in and many expect this Offensive Line to be the Spartan’s best ever.
They also return budding senior Quarterback Connor Cook.
Cook threw for over 3,000 yards and 24 Touchdowns.
The Spartans lost outstanding Wide Receivers Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphrey. Lippett, in particular, is a huge loss with his 65 receptions for 1,198 yards and 11 Touchdowns. But, they have Magarrett Kings, Aaron Burbridge, R.J. Shelton and A.J. Troup and they combined for 81 catches in 2014. Expect big things out of Aaron Burbridge.
The Spartans return top Tight End Josiah Price who had 26 catches and 6 Touchdowns and an outstanding blocker.
The biggest loss for the Michigan State Spartans is star Running Back Jeremy Langford. He ran for 1,422 yards and 18 Touchdowns in 2013, and then 1,522 yards in 2014 with 22 Touchdowns.
Langford also had the top 40 yard dash time at the NFL combine for Running Backs. This is a big loss for the Spartans, with Langford going for nearly 3,000 yards in 2 seasons and leading the Spartans to the 2014 Rose Bowl win over Stanford.
Also gone is super back up Running Back Nick Hill who put up 622 yards and 9 Touchdowns.
Behind Hill was rising star Delton Williams who ran for 316 yards, but Williams got in some trouble and was suspended.
Delton Williams more than likely would have been the starter, but there’s no reason to believe he will actually be back. Williams is 6-1, 228 and a potentially great Running Back, but since he is gone the Spartans are scrambling around looking for a replacement.
Madre London is the most exciting player and prospect to step up at Running Back. The redshirt freshman is a 6-1, 210 speedster from Fort Lauderdale, Florida St Thomas Aquinas High School. As a high school Running Back, London was fast, elusive and quick. He blocked well and caught passes effectively out of the backfield. College ball is another thing altogether, but all reports have him looking good in Spring drills.
Gerald Holmes is a 6-0, 220 power back out of Flint, Michigan. Holmes has also been solid in Spring Drills and is a tough, hard nosed runner. Head coach Mark Dantonio says that Holmes is solid and right in the middle of the battle to replace Langford.
Redshirt freshman T.J. Harrell was supposed to be a Linebacker prospect for the Spartans, but will now move over to Tailback to compete for the starting job. That’s not a huge deal since former star Running Back Jeremy Langford was a Cornerback before being moved to offense. Harrell played Running Back in high school at Tampa Catholic. Harrell has enormous potential at Outside Linebacker, but might could help at Running Back as well.
If you like a big Running Back, Gerald Owens is 6-2, 263 and is reminiscent of a Ron Dayne type of power back. Owens is impressing some of his teammates, but will need to drop a few pounds. I love a huge Running Back running over defenders and I will be hoping to see some of Owens next Fall.
Another option could be 4 star incoming recruit L.Z. Scott who is a 6-1, 217 power runner from Hubbard, Ohio. But, Scott won’t be in East Lansing until he graduates from high school. But, he was one of the top rated Running Backs coming out of the high school ranks this past year.
So, who will be the next star Running Back for the Spartans when they line up against Western Michigan on Friday September 4th?
Danged if I know, but they do have some good looking options. My money is on Madre London and T.J. Harrell moving back to Outside Linebacker. I would not be surprised after the 2014 season and all of the true freshmen Running Backs like Nick Chubb, Leonard Fournette, and quite a few others, if L.Z. Scott was an instant star.
No offense to any SEC fans that might be reading, but Michigan State versus Ohio State in 2015 will be one of the year’s best games.