Despite not so fan-friendly weather conditions in East Lansing, Mich., Michigan State had a relatively successful Spring scrimmage as the Spartans closed out Spring practice for 2018.
The offense edged the defense by a score of 32-30, as redshirt freshman quarterback Rocky Lombardi made a case to be junior Brian Lewerke’s backup with a late scoring drive that ended with a 18-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Darrell Stewart Jr. With windy and slightly raining weather throughout the afternoon, the passing struggled to find its footing early, but later figured it out.
Here are some takeaways from Saturday’s Spring game as we look ahead to Fall camp and the 2018 season:
Connor Heyward striving for carries in MSU backfield
Heyward, a sophomore halfback, mostly contributed as a kick returner last season and only had three carries in 2017. Although, after rushing for 44 yards and 11 carries and a score on Saturday, the 6-foot 228 pound back could be seeing a lot more action this season.
Heyward showed his versatility as well by connecting with Lombardi on a double pass for a two-point conversion. Another running back who opened some eyes was sophomore Alante Thomas, a transfer from Division 2 Saginaw Valley State. Thomas, whose older brother Lawrence played defensive tackle for Michigan State and is now with the NFL’s New York Jets, was one of the big surprises of Saturday’s scrimmage with 10 carries for 77 yards. At 5-foot-9 and 189 pounds, Thomas is more of a shifty change of pace back who could provide some value in the passing game.
‘No Fly Zone’ making its return
After a young secondary outperformed expectations last season, all the talk this offseason has been how this secondary could be among the best ever at Michigan State. sophomore Josiah Scott returns after his freshman All-American season as well as converted wide out Justin Layne who earned All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2017.
The Spartans have always been at their best when they have an experienced player at safety and that is the case with senior Khari Willis. Throw in true freshmen Xavier Henderson and Kalon Gervin who were both highly coveted and decided to enroll early to gain extra practice time and the Spartans have the makings of an elite secondary.
Spartans get commitment from dual-sport athlete
Just weeks after 3-star wide receiver Jase Bowen out of Central Catholic HS (Toledo, Ohio) earned an offer from Michigan State, the dual-sport athlete who also plays baseball returned to East Lansing on Saturday and made his verbal commitment to the Spartans following the Spring game.
In addition to landing Bowen, the Spartans may have made a strong impression on Cass Tech (Detroit) halfback Jaren Mangham after his visit on Saturday. The 4-star and top ranked back in the state has offers from several schools including Florida, Colorado, Oregon, Ole Miss and Michigan State. Following the game, Mangham changed his twitter profile picture to him in a Michigan State jersey.
With senior L.J. Scott leaving after this season, the Spartans will be looking to recruit the halfback position aggressively for this 2019 class.