2015 NFL Draft: Tony Lippett’s path to the draft


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It’s hard to believe where Tony Lippett is right now, on the cusp of being drafted to the NFL. After the 2012 and 2013 seasons, if I was to say to any Michigan State fan that Lippett would have his name called during the NFL Draft, most would have chuckled. This shows the hard work and determination that Lippett had in himself and the position he is now in to play on Sundays.

Lippett came to Michigan State via Crockett High School in Detroit and it appeared that he would be primarily used on defense at the cornerback position. After redshirting his first year, Lippett played in all 14 games, starting five in the cornerback role, while also playing some receiver and hauling in four passes. Lippett was a Big Ten All-Freshmen team honorable mention and it looked like his versatility would carry him a long way during his Spartan career.

In 2012, the Spartan offense was stagnant and in a desperate need of playmakers. With the defense playing at a high level, particularly the secondary, Lippett landed permanently on the offensive side of the ball in a wide receiver role.

It was a difficult year for the Michigan State team as a whole with the offense often struggling to find any kind of rhythm. Lippett finished the year 36 receptions and two touchdowns. Much like the team this was also a trying year for Lippett. He found himself not only in and out of the starting lineup, but also in and out of the coaching staff’s doghouse when his effort was questioned.

The 2013 season had a lot of question marks for the Spartan team as well as Tony. After struggling to find his place during his sophomore year Lippett was at a crossroads. To the delight of Spartan Nation, Lippett, the offense and the Spartan team took off to amazing heights.

Jan 1, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Tony Lippett (14) during the game against the Baylor Bears in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Bears 42-41. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Lippett lead the team with 44 receptions, ranked second on the team with 613 yards, and had two touchdowns. He and the Spartans won the Big Ten Championship and made it to the Rose Bowl, where Lippett will live in Spartan lore forever. Lippett made a 25 yard touchdown catch giving the Spartans the lead for good, bringing East Lansing and Spartan fans the Rose Bowl victory they so desperately craved.

No one could predict what Tony Lippett would produce in his final season in a Spartan uniform. Expectations were for him to be a solid starter and improve mildly on the numbers he put up in the previous season. Lippett blew this out of the water and then some, which has now put him squarely on the NFL map.

Lippett made so many big and impressive catches the entire season. There was no question that if quarterback Connor Cook needed a big play or was in trouble, his go-to guy was Lippett and he was always there. Whether it was an over-the-shoulder catch or a huge fourth down reception against Baylor to keep the winning drive alive, Tony was Mr. Clutch.

He also showed his versatility at the end of the season. The Spartans were in need of a spark at the cornerback position and Lippett more than provided that as well. He stepped in and played the position like he had been doing it his entire career. He made key tackles in the run game as well as provided tight coverage and pass breakups. All the while not letting his offensive production slip. This undoubtedly did not go unnoticed by NFL scouts — the more skills you can bring to a team the better.

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  • Lippett finished the season with 65 receptions, 1,198 yards, which led the Big Ten, and 11 touchdowns, which included a streak of eight consecutive games with a touchdown. These fantastic numbers allowed Lippett to be named 2014 Big Ten Receiver of the Year and first-team All-Big Ten.

    He is expected to be drafted in the middle rounds, which again, is completely impressive since he was in the Michigan State coaches dog house just a few short years ago and struggling to find playing time.

    Lippett did not let anything discourage him and is a true testament to never giving up. Whether it is playing on the defensive or offensive side of the ball, Lippett is going to give his all and there is no doubt he is about to embark on a successful NFL career.

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