Michigan State Football: Top 10 Players to Make an Impact in 2011
College football is around the corner, and the reigning Big Ten champs are looking for more this year. They have an extremely tough road schedule with trips to Ohio State and Nebraska. Michigan State is looking to take it to the next level by playing in the Rose Bowl or a BCS bowl. If that dream becomes a reality, they will need these 10 players to have great seasons.
#10: Offensive Guard Joel Foreman
Michigan State's biggest weakness this season will be their offensive line. It is very young and very inexperienced, with a lot of players fighting for sports. One constant should be senior Joel Foreman, who has made 36 starts. He needs to use his leadership skills and anchor the line for the Spartans.
#9: Cornerback Johnny Adams
Johnny Adams helped take a shaky secondary and turn it into a turnover machine. Adams always seems to be in the right place at the right time and collects costly turnovers for opponents. The biggest might have been when he picked off Denard Robinson in the end zone last year. He is Michigan State's top corner, and he needs to be the shutdown corner for them.
#8: Tight End Dion Sims
We all know Dion Sims was suspended last year, but after seeing him in the green and white spring game, it's clear his focus is on the field. He caught some short passes and turned them into 20, 30, and 40-yard gains. He is a huge tight end, too, so should be able to block when needed.
#7: Defensive End William Gholston
William Gholston was the top recruit for the Big Ten in 2010. He struggled as a freshmen and ended up having a season-ending injury. Gholston should be a force on the line this year. Getting to the quarterback should be his number one priority, with Jerel Worthy taking on a double team on almost every play.
#6: Wide Receiver B.J. Cunningham
B.J. can do big things if he can apply his mind to it. He broke his foot last year before the Alabama game, so that hurt the Spartans a lot. He will be the number one wide receiver this year, and has been know to make a lot of great catches. The Spartans need him to be the most reliable receiver.
#5: Kicker Dan Conroy
The kicking game was a huge concern after Brett Swenson graduated from Michigan State. Then came Dan Conroy, who only went 15/16 on field goals and 45/46 on extra points. He is clutch and he can boot it from 50 yards easily. He also played a key role in last year's most exciting play "Little Giants". If he can maintain the consistency he showed last year, special teams will be a huge strength for the Spartans.
#4: Wide Receiver/Punt Returner Keshawn Martin
Keshawn Martin can do everything. He has returned punts and kickoffs for touchdowns, he has run the ball, caught the ball and has even thrown the ball. He is such an athlete that it doesn't matter what position he plays, as long as the ball is in his hands, he always has a chance to go all the way. He is the biggest momentum-swinger for the Spartans and will play a big role for them this year.
#3: Running Backs Larry Caper, Le'veon Bell, Edwin Baker
Michigan State's running backs stable may be top 5 in the nation. Edwin Baker had over a 1,000 yards rushing last year, and he has huge numbers in mind this year. If he is going to reach that number, he will need help from Larry Caper, who could be in Baker's shoes if not for an early season injury last year.
Caper is an excellent pass catching running back. Le'veon Bell will be recharged after having an outstanding first half freshmen year before hitting the freshman wall after the half-way point. These three running backs will lead "pound, green, pound" and, in the process, put up some big numbers.
#2: Linebacker Max Bullough, and Nose Tackle Jerel Worthy
Let's get one thing out of the way: Jerel Worthy is an absolute terror on the line. He requires a double team on almost every play, and if teams don't double-team him, they can expect him in their backfield. He spearheads the line and allows other players to get penetration when he can't. Many NFL draft sites have him being taken next year in the top 10.
Max Bullough will need Jerel Worthy's penetration to make it easier for him to find the hole and crush the quarterback or the runner. Bullough will have the biggest shoe's to fill this year after All-American and now New York Giant Greg Jones was drafted last year. I'm very high on Bullough and believe he will make the biggest new impact this year.
#1 Quarterback Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins has become one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play at Michigan State. His leadership qualities go off the charts. His character is even greater than Tim Tebow's. This is Cousins' team now, and he will look after it with a watchful eye.
He needs to not throw off his back foot and stop throwing crucial interceptions in the red zone, but if he continues to build off his last two seasons, then he can easily be a first-round pick next year. Cousin's will easily be the best pure passer in the Big Ten next year, and even though Michigan State is a run-first team, Cousins will put up numbers.
With Cousins leading the way, I believe the Spartans will be in a great position to go to the Rose Bowl or a BCS bowl.