Now that undefeated and #5 ranked Michigan State football is having their best season since the 1966 national title year, it’s time to re-examine their very proud tradition at the wide receiver position.
Of all the position groups on the gridiron, certainly receiver is where MSU can boast their biggest names: Andre Rison, Muhsin Muhammad, Derrick Mason, Plaxico Burress, Kirk Gibson (although he really made his name in another sport), Courtney Hawkins, Charles Rogers, Mark Ingram, Chris Baker, the list goes on and on. You can even make a pretty good shirt list of just the guys that wore #1 in East Lansing.
Senior Mark Dell is keeping the trend going. MSU’s leader in receiving yards this season ranks 12th in MSU history with 1,759 receiving yards (16.9 avg., good for 16th) and 20th in career receptions with 104. And he also has the 5th highest single game receiving yards total in State history (202 vs. California in ’08)
“We’re definitely blessed at being in the same program, we’re just trying to keep on the great tradition that they left, like you said: Muhsin Muhammad, Andre Rison, Devin Thomas, Blair White is doing really well too,” Dell said after I caught up to him at Northwestern.
By Paul M. Banks
The secret to Dell’s success is simple. “I try to be consistent with catching, I know not everything is going to be perfect, it can be windy with different climate changes, but as a receiver it’s your job to make sure you come down with the ball. And that’s what I’ve been working on this off-season, to make sure I have zero drops, and I’ve done right so far,” he said.
The 6-2, 200 senior from Farmington Hills Michigan; ranks ninth in the Big Ten in receiving yards per game (58.7 ypg.) and eighteen of his 22 catches (82 percent) have resulted in either a touchdown or a first down. I asked him which NFL WRs he looks up to.
“Jerry Rice is definitely one of my favorites, Reggie Wayne, Calvin Johnson, the list goes on and on I definitely have players that I look at and take things from,” he responded.
The Spartans are known as a running-first team, but it’s their passing game that has won the last two contests for them. As defenses have keyed in on the run…
“When you have such phenomenal backs, it’s only a matter of time before teams really key in on the running game, then it’s our job to make plays as receivers. When things get clogged up in the middle, and then you go over the top you have to make plays and we did that today,” Dell said.
Dell’s the leader, and by far the most NFL ready of State’s receivers, but they have a very deep core.
“We have B.J. Cunningham, Keith Nichol, Keshawn Martin- who’s a little banged up today. Bennie Fowler came out there today. I feel we have a lot of depth in our receiving corps, and if you take out one receiver and put another receiver in, you’re not losing anything, and I feel that’s one of our greatest assets,” Dell said.
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