Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Williams calls speed key element in recruits

February 7, 2002
MSU football head coach Bobby Williams discusses aspects of new football signee David Herron during Wednesday’s press conference in the Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center. Williams gave a brief speech about each of the 19 players who have signed letters of intent to play football at MSU this fall. —

Wednesday was a big mail day for MSU head football coach Bobby Williams.

Nineteen letters reached Williams’ desk signed and sealed, securing MSU’s early signees for the 2002 recruiting class.

“I am very, very happy this day has come and it’s come to a close,” Williams said. “I’m very, very pleased with this class that signed today. It’s an outstanding class. A class I think is very, very talented.

“The guys that we have are a great group of young men that we are very excited about.”

At the start of the recruiting path, Williams said there was one area of focus when landing recruits - speed. In a Big Ten conference that has recently taken a decline in quickness, adding a few speedsters will help MSU against quicker opponents, Wiliams said.

“The emphasis was on speed,” he said. “When you look at this class we have 11 skill players, we have five linemen, two linebackers and a specialist.

“(Speed) is something that we wanted to make a special emphasis, that we really wanted to continue to upgrade the overall speed on our football team. We have seven players coming in here that have a chance to compete for a state track championship. So we’re excited about the overall team speed of this freshman class that we have.”

Farmington Hills-Harrison quarterback Drew Stanton said the addition of those quick afoot adds a dimension of the game the 6-foot-3 rifleman looks forward to playing with.

“A lot of speed that gives us an advantage,” Stanton said. “You can’t teach speed, so that’s a big advantage.”

And Williams feels the speed he’s recruited allows his players versatility on both offense and defense.

“(This class is) balanced from a standpoint that we have guys that can play on either side of the ball,” Williams said. “We’re going to look at these guys when we get them in. And then they will fall into positions based on No. 1, their ability and No. 2, our needs.”

Going into the fall the Spartans’ biggest need lies in the backfield, where an early exit to the NFL by junior tailback T.J. Duckett has left MSU coaches searching for their next runner.

David Richard, a 6-1 runner from St. Louis’s Hazelwood East High seems the likely candidate to fill in for Duckett. With a similar running style and bulky 230-pound frame, not to mention his 4.5 40-yard dash time, Richards could contribute immediately.

“My best friend (redshirt freshman linebacker) James Cooper plays there, and I’m good friends with (freshman tight end) Ryan Woods,” Richard said. “And Bobby Williams is a St. Louis native.”

But having hometown ties doesn’t secure a spot in the backfield, Williams said. The heir to Duckett won’t be decided until all players report to training camp Aug. 5.

“David Richard is going to have a great opportunity,” Williams said. “Jaren Hayes (Pennsylvania’s Cedar Crest High) and Jerramy Scott (Florida’s William T. Dwyer High), all three of them will have an opportunity because that’s a position right now that we’re very thin at.”

Of the 19 signees, seven are from Michigan. The remaining members come from Ohio (5), California (2), Florida (1), Missouri (1), Oregon (1), Illinois (1) and Pennsylvania (1).

Williams said Michigan will always be MSU’s main target, but it hasn’t been a surprise to capture players from outside the Midwest, even as far out as the West Coast.

“Every year we’re going to make a job we do a great job here in state,” Williams said. “It just so happens that a lot of the players are interested in Michigan State from different parts of the country.”

Williams said until the very end of this recruiting period MSU was in the race for recruits with schools like Miami, but he can’t worry about the lost talent. The focus now is on winter workouts and figuring out personnel for next fall.

“One thing I’ve learned in this business is that you can’t be concerned with the ones you lose,” Williams said. “You got to be concerned with the ones you have, because they’re the ones that make sure the ones you lose don’t become a problem.”

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