Michigan State football freshmen, redshirts to watch this fall

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EAST LANSING — There’s not a lot of room for newcomers to impact Michigan State football this fall.

But Mel Tucker has been preaching since joining in February 2020 that he and his staff will play the best players. And a few of his 2021 recruiting class demonstrated that last fall, with Keon Coleman, Charles Brantley, Hank Pepper and Ma’a Gaoteote all playing as rookies in the Spartans’ 11-2 season. .

This year’s incoming class could have a few more players who can make a quick impact. Here’s a look at who’s in line to play early, along with some other fast risers in the 2021 class ahead of the Sept. 2 opener against Western Michigan (7 p.m. / ESPN).

TO CATCH:Keon Coleman has a great personality, great playing ability; “Due to the small group season”

IN THE BACKGROUND:RB transfers can be ‘thunder and lightning’ in a crowded backfield

Real Freshmen

WR Germie Bernard: The former Washington clerk signed up for MSU in January and turned heads with his ability to run and play. The 6-foot, 200-pound four-star rookie is battling athletic sophomore Coleman for No. 3 receiver (behind Jayden Reed and Tre Mosley), but both should be key targets for the quarterback. -back Payton Thorne throughout the season. season. Keep an eye out for classmate Antonio Gates Jr. (Dearborn Fordson) as the season progresses.

Michigan State cornerback Charles Brantley, right, and Ade Willie conduct a drill during practice Tuesday, March 29, 2022, at the East Lansing Indoor Football Center.

CB Caleb Coley/Ade Willie: Darius Snow’s move to linebacker opens up a spot at fullback that Coley or Willie – the first two rosters – could fill quickly. They’ll have to play senior Chester Kimbrough and others for snaps, especially since that nickel spot could sometimes end up being a third linebacker.

Michigan State defensive end Zion Young conducts a drill during football practice Thursday August 11, 2022 in East Lansing.

BY Zion Young/Chase Carter/James Schott: MSU desperately wants more production from its peak points. While Jeff Pietrowski and Khris Bogle are first to start, depth is an issue. The three newcomers have plenty of size and length to take on a designated passing-rushing role by the end of the season, although Brandon Wright, Itayvion Brown and linebacker Jacoby Windmon will all likely be ahead of them early.

S Jaden Mangham/Dillon Tatum: Two Detroit-area four-star athletes — Mangham of Birmingham Groves, Tatum of West Bloomfield — have veterans Xavier Henderson and Angelo Grose ahead of them on the depth chart. However, freshmen possess the athleticism to fight their way through both depths by the end of camp and, at a minimum, become immediate impact players on special teams.

Michigan State defensive back Dillon Tatum performs drills during spring training Saturday, April 16, 2022 at Spartan Stadium.

TUCK TALKIN’:What Michigan State football’s Mel Tucker saw in the Spartans scrimmage

DT Alex Van Sumeren: The top-rated recruit in the Class of 2022 also comes in at the deepest position on the roster. However, just like Derrick Harmon did last season, VanSumeren should be able to play at least four games (if he and the coaching staff want to retain a redshirt). And if Jalen Hunt and Dashaun Mallory stay bumped, it could present an opportunity for a bigger role.

Michigan State running back Davion Primm catches a pass against defensive back Jaden Mangham during spring training Saturday, April 16, 2022 at Spartan Stadium.

Five freshmen in red shirts to watch

DT Derrick Harmon, OT Ethan Boyd, OG Geno VanDeMark, RB Davion Primm, S AJ Kirk: Harmon played four games last season and settled in well. Boyd will be needed for depth at the edge of the revamped offensive line, while VanDeMark and Kevin Wigenton will be on hand to play inside. Primm impressed in the spring, but he also has four veterans competing for the races. Kirk arrived as a potential defensive back/hitting linebacker hybrid in Snow’s mould; and the brother of former Ohio State star Mike Doss could make an impact on special teams while earning playing time on defense.

Contact Chris Solari: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Learn more about the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

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