Dantonio aims to jump-start receiving corps


With the way the receiving game has struggled through five weeks of the season, it wasn’t a huge surprise when MSU football head coach Mark Dantonio bumped junior wideout Bennie Fowler to second string in favor of true freshman Aaron Burbridge.

With all the scrutiny aimed at the group, many were calling for a change. The group has many options at receiver — one of which is sophomore running back Jeremy Langford, who saw some reps at the position during spring practice.

Dantonio was asked about whether Langford had made the switch back to running back full time during his weekly press conference and said while Langford has some strong talent, he wouldn’t be the one to step in as wideout.

“As the situation continued at the end of summer camp … he had to be more consistent catching the ball as a receiver,” Dantonio said of Langford. “He’s clearly not the top running back on our football team, so we moved him to receiver. I think he is an exciting player with the ball in his hands; (but with) down-the-field catches, he wasn’t getting it done.”

But with talent such as freshman Macgarrett Kings Jr., redshirt freshman Andre Sims Jr. and sophomore DeAnthony Arnett, the question is asked — what makes Burbridge stand out?

“He’s fast and he can catch the ball,” junior running back Le’Veon Bell said. “He’s a natural playmaker; you put the ball in his hands, and he can make you miss – it kind of reminds me of how (former Spartan Keshawn Martin) was.”

The comparisons to the current Houston Texan are high praise for a player who just joined the team a few months ago, but Bell wouldn’t shy away from it.

“(He’s maybe not) as quick or as jukey, but he kind of reminds me of Keshawn,” he said. “He’s young, and he’s got to develop a little bit, but that’s who he reminds me of.”

With the loss of offensive linemen senior Fou Fonoti and sophomore Travis Jackson, Dantonio said he’s looking for players to fill the leadership void left by their absences — especially senior guard Chris McDonald.

“Some guys are a little bit more in tune with being an emotional leader, being a little bit more, ‘Let’s go, c’mon.’ Chris is a quiet leader, (so) he needs to move in that direction a little bit,” Dantonio said.

Meanwhile, McDonald said he’s ready to take the reins and help the line get back on its feet.
“I think I have been stepping up quite a bit this summer,” McDonald said.

“But losing a special guy like Travis, you need to take what he gave out and step it up a little more.”

On the other side of the ball, senior linebacker and captain Chris Norman said he’s been doing what he can to get the whole team together and under the same umbrella, rather than rallying the offense and the defense separately.

“It’s a team thing, and I don’t want it to seem like we’re pointing out the offense,” Norman said. “When I do address the team, I address them as a whole because it’s all on everybody to do well.”

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