In 2008, Michigan State put its entire offense on the shoulders of star running back Javon Ringer. He logged an incredible 390 carries on the season.
Now that Ringer is off to the NFL, do the Spartans have someone waiting in the wings to carry the load?
Cast of Characters:
Glenn Winston (sophomore—2009)
Edwin Baker (freshman)
Larry Caper (freshman)
Andre Anderson (sophomore)
Ashton Leggett (sophomore)
A.J. Jimmerman (senior)
Josh Rouse (senior)
What’s the scoop?
If you want to criticize Michigan State for anything last year, it was that the Spartans didn’t make an effort to groom a successor to their star back. Ringer and his 390 carries are off to play on Sundays. Andre Anderson was second on the team in carries with 26. Yes, 26.
Perhaps the reason for Ringer’s heavy workload was that there were no other dazzling candidates on the roster. Remember, in 2007 Ringer split carries down the middle with Jehuu Caulcrick, proving coach Mark Dantonio is not averse to a two-back system.
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The top candidates to take over the Spartan running game are incoming freshmen Baker and Caper. Both will set foot on campus this summer.
Baker has excellent cutback ability and breakaway speed, while Caper is a bigger back whose strengths include blocking and catching passes out of the backfield.
Could this duo be a redux of the Ringer and Caulcrick show in 2007?
Sophomore-to-be Winston was in the mix for carries until he found himself in trouble with the law. Winston was suspended indefinitely from the football team after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges stemming from brawl that left a MSU hockey player seriously injured. Winston could face up to a year in jail when he is sentenced on April 29.
The aforementioned Anderson returns for his sophomore year and could play a role in the offense next fall, but he does not have the pedigree of a Caper or Baker. Nor do the other running backs on the roster: Leggett, Rouse, and Jimmerman.
What’s at stake?
Lots and lots of carries. If you take a peek back at Dantonio’s Cincinnati teams from 2003-2006, you will see that he built his offense around the running game.
He brought this mentality to East Lansing in 2007. When he looked in the cupboard and saw he had inherited a talent in Ringer, you know Dantonio was like a kid in a candy store. Rest assured, he didn’t have anyone as gifted as Ringer back in Cincy.
Baker and Caper come aboard as highly decorated prepsters—at just the right time. There is no reason to think Dantonio won’t run the ball early and often again in 2009.
If your fantasy draft was today (Mar. 20, 2009)
With Winston in a legal mess, we like Caper and Baker to become major players in the Spartans offense this fall. Will one become the go-to guy? It’s too early to tell.
Right now, we’d roll the dice with one of them as a fourth running back on an all-120 league roster. Keep your eyes on this one in August once practice reports begin to surface out of East Lansing.
Todd DeVries is the founder of CollegeFootballGeek.com, your premier resource for college fantasy football information. Check us out.
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