Saturday, February 4, 2023

Keon Coleman and Maliq Carr represent future of the MSU football program

November 28, 2022
<p>Sophomore wide receiver Keon Coleman, 0, during Michigan State’s last game at home against Indiana on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 at Spartan Stadium. Indiana ultimately beat the Spartans, 39-31.</p>

Sophomore wide receiver Keon Coleman, 0, during Michigan State’s last game at home against Indiana on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 at Spartan Stadium. Indiana ultimately beat the Spartans, 39-31.

Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

Michigan State football didn’t have the season it expected. After an 11-2 season in which the Spartans were College Football Playoff contenders, this year’s 5-7 finish came as a surprise to many. 

Although there are many negative takeaways from the season that will need to be worked out, such as rebuilding a threatening run game and the defense as a whole, the young talented players that stepped up should give the team hope for the future. 

Two of these players who made their mark and could take an even bigger jump next season are redshirt sophomore tight end Maliq Carr and sophomore wide receiver Keon Coleman

Coleman led the receivers with 798 yards this season and became a favorite target for redshirt junior quarterback Payton Thorne, finding the end zone seven times. 

It appears he’s learned a lot from veteran redshirt senior wide receiver Jayden Reed. Reed acted as a proud older brother to Coleman while addressing the media following MSU’s overtime victory over Wisconsin in which Reed found Coleman in the end zone on a trick play. 

“He made a play,” Reed said. “That’s what Keon do. He go up, he makes grabs, he made great catches, and he made the play.”

Coleman, who may have been Reed’s protégé this season, will likely be a leader in the wide receiver room next season, especially following Reed’s departure to the NFL Draft. In fact, the dynamic duo of Thorne and Reed could easily become Thorne and Coleman next season.

Thorne and fifth-year safety Xavier Henderson spoke to Coleman’s high football IQ that he gets from rigorous preparation. Thorne even revealed that Coleman constantly asks the defensive backs for their scouting report on him so he can get an idea of what the defensive game plan will be against him.

“I wish you guys could understand how smart he is,” Thorne said. “He studies the game. He wants to know.”

Although Carr was blocked at his position by veteran players, he saw more action in the second half of the season when teams started to double their coverage on Coleman and he made his presence known. He finished the season with 209 receiving yards, second to only fifth-year Daniel Barker in the tight end room. 

He also came down with two touchdowns this season, both showcasing his ability to keep an eye on the ball. The first came against Indiana in a play in which the ball bounced off another player and into Carr’s hands in the end zone.  

"The ball just showed up," Carr said of the catch. "It was just in the air and I was like okay, slide under and catch it. Honestly I had no clue it happened. Dude was holding me, I turned out, saw the ball and caught it. Surprisingly it was just like okay cool, on to the next one."

The second came against Penn State over the weekend on a one-handed snag over a defender that kept the game competitive. 

Versatility is clearly a strength for these two sport athletes, as they’ll soon be joining the basketball team now that football season is done. During his freshman season, Coleman became the first player since the 1992-1993 season to score a touchdown and a basket for an AP Top-10 football and basketball team.

As the Spartans look to analyze what went wrong and what went right this season, Carr and Coleman’s performances will certainly be in the “pro” column. Going forward, it’s very possible that these two could be the future of the program as well as key components of an offensive rebuild over the off season.

Support student media! Please consider donating to The State News and help fund the future of journalism.

Discussion

Share and discuss “Keon Coleman and Maliq Carr represent future of the MSU football program” on social media.