QB Drew Stanton

2005 Statistics

Coach: John L. Smith
18-18, 3 years
2005 Record: 5-6
at Notre Dame WON 44-41 (OT)
at Illinois WON 61-14
at Ohio State LOST 24-35
at Purdue LOST 21-28
at Minnesota LOST 18-41

2005 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2006 Outlook

All head coach John L. Smith has to do is to keep his bunch winning as consistently as they do in games before October to have the Spartans take the next step. Since coming here from Louisville before the 2003 season, he has compiled a 10-3 record prior to October, including a 4-0 mark last year that had many talking highly of how far State would go after they beat juggernaut Notre Dame in South Bend. But the near miss at home in OT just two weeks later against their in-state rival started a skid that saw them go 1-6 to close, with most games ones in which they were never really close to winning. His teams here are 8-15 after September, and with two losing records in a row, it seems like the Big Ten is a huge hurdle for Smith’s legacy here. But this year looks like it can be different.

Like last year, it all comes down to the defense. He has never coached their total effort on this side of the ball to better than a 62nd showing, with 2005’s 87th ranking disappointing, at best. But all three starting LBs return, and they should work to make both of the revamped areas, the DL and secondary, come together. The DBs don’t seem as strong coming into the fall as the line, but the quick, svelte corps should be able to drop back as needed until they can hold their own. The overall product should be much better, enough so as to rebound nicely once the conference slate starts.

The offense won’t be a problem. Fifth-year senior Drew Stanton has the talent behind and around him to have MSU keep up even in scoring duals in case the defense again falls flat. But moreover, if the defense does its job, State’s ball-control approach can spread opponents out and run down their throats to hold any lead they may get. Some will point to the youth on the OL as a question mark, but we can tell you they will prove worthy enough so that the Spartans will remain one of the elite teams that can gain average 200 yards per game both rushing and passing. Stanton as a Heisman candidate is a realistic proposition if this team can get at least eight wins.

And like last year, it all revolves around their toughest four games. Notre Dame, Michigan (away) and Ohio State all happen from late September through mid-October, and the closer in Happy Valley means this team will again possibly see four top 10 teams that will likely define 2006 like they did 2005. The worst defeat last year of these four was 35-24 to the Buckeyes, which reveals a character trait in Michigan State – even though they focus and show up against these toughies, they cannot afford to again lose sight against the other in-conference foes. It will be another disappointment if they do not get to a bowl game, for this Spartan squad is good enough to finish in the top 25 if they just show the consistency that has been lacking since 2004. Don’t ignore their potential, but also don’t be upset when they miss a beat and again finish around .500.

Projected 2006 record: 6-6
LB SirDarean Adams
QB - 4.5 DL - 2
RB - 4 LB - 3.5
WR - 4 DB - 2
OL - 3 ..

Passing: Drew Stanton, 354-236-12, 3077 yds., 22 TD

Rushing: Javon Ringer, 122 att., 817 yds., 5 TD

Receiving: Jerramy Scott, 49 rec., 722 yds., 4 TD

Scoring: Jehuu Caulcrick, 7 TD, 42 pts.

Punting: Brandon Fields, 40 punts, 41.6 avg.

Kicking: John Goss, 4-11 FG, 28-28 PAT, 40 pts.

Tackles: David Herron, 65 tot., 38 solo

Sacks: Clifton Ryan, 3 sacks

Interceptions: SirDarean Adams, 3 for 54 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff Returns: Demond Williams, 17 ret., 25.4 avg., 1 TD

Punt Returns: Terry Love, 10 ret., 8.7 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Jason Teague-RB, Kyle Brown-WR, Ryan Woods-TE, Stefon Wheeler-OT, Chris Morris-C, Gordon Niebylski-OG
DEFENSE: Michael Bazemore-DE, Domata Peko-DT, Brandon McKinney-DT, Ashton Watson-CB, Eric Smith-SS, Jaren Hayes-CB

For overall team success, it all relies on fifth-year senior Drew Stanton. Well sized and nimble footed, Stanton proved his worth last season by finding his comfort zone in the pocket, and the results (66.7% completion rate, 22 TDs and 3000+ passing yards) prove his drop-back ability really pays the most dividends. Still, this Farmington Hills-native has a keen sense for when to take off and make the play himself – he led the way in last year’s win against Notre Dame (in South Bend), and will again single-handedly keep them in games if/when the defense struggles. His protégé, Brian Hoyer, is a step faster, but a bit smaller. Hoyer can be everything Stanton already is, but he has to learn more patience in the pocket (by his own admittance). This fledging sophomore is the future here, and will see more than mop-up duty in 2006 for further seasoning. Classmate Domenic Natale is even smaller, and this drop-back hurler has never seen real game reps, though coaches are high on his prospects, if inserted. The Spartans have a strong three-deep, but keeping All-American Stanton (Honorable Mention, NationalChamps.net) healthy as their field general surely provides their best chance to stay in the Big Ten race.

Running Back
This area is well stocked with three guys who could start, but in State’s usual three-WR sets, they will rotate early and often. The workhorse seems to be sophomore Javon Ringer, a stocky quickster (4.35 in the 40) who runs inside the tackles as well he takes the outside corners. His 6.7 yards per rush in ’05 is complimented well by his soft hands. Junior Jehuu Caulcrick is a true freak of nature – at 245 lbs, he runs a 4.41-40. Caulcrick’s competence in short-yardage and goal line situations is proven via his 89 carries that resulted in only eight lost yards. Smaller junior Brett Kahn compliments the other two as a scat-back type. The Trenton-native is an ex-CB who was (prep) all-state in the 100 and 400 meters. With not much behind these three, injuries could be a factor in offensive production if they hit this unit hard.

The Spartans will see four of 2005’s top five snarlers return to keep their passing game one of the country’s best. Senior Jerramy Scott will remain the “go to” guy for Stanton, for though a bit undersized, he gets results both short and deep from the slot. At 6’6”, classmate Matt Trannon wins jump balls galore. This Flint product fortifies the running game with superior downfield blocking to go with his precise route running. He is backed up by former-JUCO star Kerry Reed, another well-sized senior burner (4.4) who scorches DBs often due to the others garnering so much attention. The Z position is in good hands with junior Terry Love, who averaged the team’s top yardage per catch in ’05. It is a bit thin behind these four, but the two-deep gets JUCO-transfer Devin Thomas to bolster this group of experienced upperclassmen.
Tight End

Tight End
Junior Kellen Davis is strong as both a blocker and a receiver over the deep middle. Running a 4.7 second 40 yard dash, look for his role to expend even more with so many awesome receivers to help get him open. Backup Dwayne Holmes is just as viable and tough, having moved from DE-LB to offense last year and proving worthy. If both are in for two-TE sets, defenses will likely be overmatched if play-action is employed.

Offensive Line
With only two starters back, coach Smith will be relying on a trio of sophomores to help patch together a line that can again attain 200+ yards per game in both offensive dimensions. Junior Mike Gyetvai moves over from the right side to the volatile left tackle slot, and this Canadian-native (named the country’s top prospect by scout Ron Dias coming into MSU) has the footwork to improve the Spartan’s sack total (24). He joins senior left guard Kyle Cook to provide an obvious chosen side for plays to go, but with Cook grading out consistently in the 90+ percentile, this approach should work, regardless. Center John Masters seems like a true find, and as one of the three new starters, he will become a fixture for years to come with huge potential for development. Bigman Roland Martin at right guard will also work well. A consensus all-American at tackle in prep (didn’t allow a sack his last two years), his move to the inside has proven to work as he saw valuable time his first year and is ready to take over here. Jesse Miller is the final sophomore who will also fit nicely with his great footwork at right tackle. There is decent depth inside, but the outside lacks many experienced backups. In the end, there will be little impact on overall production even with so many new faces.

After ranking 5th in the country for total offense with almost 500 yards per game, the Spartans now are one of a handful of teams that finished with 200+ yards per game both rushing and passing to return their starting QB. Senior Drew Stanton seems to have settled into the pocket more comfortably (had a TD pass in every game in ’05), but that doesn’t mean he can’t motor it for needed gains when the opposing D shuts down his receivers. The only thing that may slow the ball-moving down would be injuries on the line. But with four experienced snarlers and a couple of big, quick TEs in their three- and four-receiver looks, what State brings to the table passing-wise won’t be stopped for more than one play at a time. This will again open up the running lanes, and coach Smith will utilize his three-headed RB unit for maximized results. He has the right back for every occasion (especially hulking speedster Jehuu Caulcrick), making his offense’s overall balance unstoppable. This means the Spartans can again control the clock and they will also pick up right where they left off in converting almost half of their third-down tries (47% in 2005 ranked them 10th nationally).


WR Jerramy Scott


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Drew Stanton-Sr (6-3, 222) Brian Hoyer-So (6-2, 204)
RB Jehuu Caulcrick-Jr (6-0, 245) Javon Ringer-So (5-9, 186)
WR Matt Trannon-Sr (6-6, 227) Kerry Reed-Sr (6-2, 198)
WR Terry Love-Jr (5-11, 173) Diego Oquendo-So (5-9, 178)
WR Jerramy Scott-Sr (5-10, 186) Carl Grimes-So (5-9, 171)
TE Kellen Freeman-Davis-Jr (6-6, 241) Dwayne Holmes-So (6-0, 254)
OT Mike Gyetvai-Jr (6-7, 307) Tom Kaczmarek-So (6-5, 308)
OG Kyle Cook-Sr (6-3, 295) Peter Clifford-Jr (6-7, 327)
C John Masters-So (6-4, 280) Joel Nitchman-Fr (6-3, 277)
OG Roland Martin-So (6-5, 318) Daniel Zynn-Sr (6-2, 321)
OT Jesse Miller-So (6-6, 311) Brendon Moss-Fr (6-6, 269)
K Matt Haughey-So (5-9, 175) John Goss-Sr (6-3, 218)



Defensive Line
Senior DE/NT Clifton Ryan is the only remaining starter from a line that allowed foes 4.6 yards per carry and only had seven sacks to its credit. Luckily, Ryan had three of them, proving how well he moves for his huge size. Classmate David Stanton also has excellent footwork for his inside role (DT), and the JUCO-transfer should help this unit improve its showing. Speedy sophomores Justin Kershaw and Brandon Long get the nod to hold the outside. Long is a converted-LB who should be in opponents’ backfields quite often, while Kershaw is better sized with just as much potential for penetration. The quartet of junior backups (along with a great haul in this year’s recruiting class) also seem promising enough, and we feel that the Spartan’s new-look DL (bolstered by the strong LB corps behind them) can finish substantially higher than 2005’s 76th ranking for run-stopping while raising the sack total substantially.

This is the team’s strongest defensive unit, by far, with three upperclassmen who all return to again starter. Junior SirDarean Adams is their best cover guy – this former-DB (worked at free safety this spring) coupled three INTs in 2005 with five TFLs as the “Bandit”, both team bests. His 4.42 speed means he (re)covers well in mis-direction attempts and play-action. Classmate Kaleb Thornhill is a step slower but a size bigger at “Mike”. This local product has the potential to be strong in many facets, but has yet to truly make enough big plays at crucial times. “Whip” David Herron is their senior run-plugger who has made the conversion from DE well (FB in prep whose claim to fame is he was Maurice Clarett’s lead blocker). A starter since 2004 here, Herron is sharp as he plays within his “heads up”, opportunistic approach. Senior Steven Juarez is a quick, nicely-sized former prep all-American wrestler who proved worthy as a JUCO-transfer last year and will continue to rotate in with regularity to bolster wherever needed. With little behind these four, this year’s four-star prospect Eric Gordon needs to see reps and he should make good if so. This corps will be the key for State to improve on its 87th ranking for total defense.

Defensive Back
What a difference a year makes, especially seeing how MSU dropped from having the nation’s 52nd ranked pass efficiency defense in 2004 to the 94th last year. It will have to be addition via subtraction with the Spartans losing three starters from the secondary, but that could prove to be just what is needed here. Seniors Demond Williams and Greg Cooper lead a crew of mostly underclassmen who have the talent to improve things. Cooper, last year’s starter at free safety, is now back at corner, the position he played in prep, and is flourishing there. Still, more experienced Williams and well-sized sophomore Ross Weaver are looking like the starters, so Cooper as a nickel means the CBs look improved as a group. PrepStar all-American Mike Bell has a huge unrealized upside, and the junior takes over at strong safety (from being a reserve at free) with great closing speed. Sophomore Otis Wiley will handle the vaunted free slot, proving enough via big plays in his brief true freshman campaign to give promise for improvements there. JUCO-transfer Nehemiah Warrick will also infuse some experience (though not at the I-A level) in the Spartans way-back machine, so giving up big plays weekly (foes earned 25 passing TDs) can hopefully become a thing of the past.

After finishing the first four games 4-0 while holding three of those four foes to 14 points, the bottom dropped out of the ’05 Spartan defense during their tough in-conference run. Only two of the last seven foes (Indiana and Purdue) were held under 30 points, and the 1-6 slide that ensued has caused major shakeups in 2006 for the defensive alignment, especially in their secondary. Coordinator Chris Smeland (also in charge of the new look safeties) should be on the bubble after his guys went from a 62nd ranking for total defense to 87th, but the LB unit returns in full to give promise to the rebuilding efforts. Thornhill, Herron and Adams are versatile enough to help both defensive facets, with Adams able to drop into coverage as well as any DB on the roster. With a recruiting class this year that appears weighted in defensive talent, Smith and Smeland can surely find a strong enough 11 from the highly rated prospects streaming in to make the Spartans more consistent here. Just watch how well they do in decreasing foe’s average yards per carry (from last year’s appalling 4.6) and third-down conversion rate (allowed 45%) – in the Big Ten, as goes these stats, so goes the team’s destiny.


NT Clifton Ryan


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Justin Kershaw-So (6-4, 253) Nick Smith-Jr (6-6, 265)
NT Clifton Ryan-Sr (6-2, 302) Bobby Jones-Jr (6-4, 299)
DT David Stanton-Sr (6-3, 291) Ogemdi Nwagbuo-Jr (6-4, 304)
DE Brandon Long-So (6-4, 230) Jonal Saint-Dic-Jr (6-1, 260)
MIKE Kaleb Thornhill-Jr (6-1, 240) Steven Juarez-Sr (6-1, 225)
WHIP David Herron-Sr (6-1, 246) Eric Andino-Jr (6-4, 232)
BAN SirDarean Adams-Jr (6-0, 222) Tom Dance-So (6-1, 205)
CB Ross Weaver-So (6-1, 189) Jelani Nantambo-Fr (5-9, 178)
CB Demond Williams-Sr (5-9, 174) Greg Cooper-Sr (5-11, 189)
S Mike Bell-Jr (5-11, 189) Nehemiah Warrick-Jr (6-1, 204)
FS Otis Wiley-So (6-2, 185) ..
P Brandon Fields-Sr (6-6, 230) John Goss-Sr (6-3, 218)




As we predicted for them last year, this is an area of much Spartan concern, for current senior John Goss and sophomore Matt Haughey went a combined 5-for-16 in FGAs, and they each had two tries blocked. Goss tanked two short tries (from 23 and 37 yards) in the Michigan OT game and ostensibly cost them the win. The JUCO-transfer seems to have the leg, but also seems better suited to punt and handle KOs (four of his 11 KO tries in 2005 were touchbacks); these were his specialties at the lower level from which he came. Haughey could only go 1-for-5 (31 yarder) when coaches benched Goss (whose longest FG was 32 yards). Something has to give, and it could be in the form of this year’s fourth-best PK recruit – Brett Swenson. Coverage on KOs is marginal again, but hungry newbies deep in the defensive charts should help as they compete for reps.

Big senior Brandon Fields did well with a 41+ average, but he out-kicks his coverage enough so that MSU only ranked 75th in net punting (they allowed 11+ per opponents’ 15 returns, with one coming back all the way). Fields 6’6”, 230lb frame means he is truly an eleventh tackler, and the fumble he forced shows he ain’t fooling around when he gets in on the play this way. But with two of his tries blocked in ’05, you can see how much work State has to do on their special teams’ kicking chores to keep them from again being a liability this campaign.

Return Game
Senior Demond Williams’ 4.35 speed and extensive experience as a KO returner give State an upper hand on many foes. Terry Love takes over sole possession of the PR duties, and his quick first few steps (to go with 4.45 speed) mean he should take it up a notch so MSU can win those field position battles that the kicking game makes necessary.