Michigan State Football: Top 5 Heisman contenders of Mark Dantonio era

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Yes, it was a one-year burst of production, but Devin Thomas is one guy who can be remembered as probably Mark Dantonio’s most talented wide receiver in his nine years.

You have guys like Tony Lippett who could play both ways, Blair White who was the ultimate Spartan, Bennie Fowler who was underrated and B.J. Cunningham who broke records, however, nobody had quite the natural talent that Thomas had.

Coming to campus as a JUCO in 2006, John L. Smith’s final season, Thomas was barely used, catching just six passes for 90 yards and a touchdown — ranking ninth on the team in receiving, right behind running back Javon Ringer.

When Dantonio came to town in 2007, it was a completely different story. Although the new head coach didn’t lure Thomas to East Lansing, he did help turn him into a star. After catching just a handful of passes in 2006 under Smith’s leadership, Thomas became first-year quarterback Brian Hoyer’s favorite target instantly.

Just how well did Thomas do in his final year at Michigan State? As a junior, he grabbed a Michigan State single-season record 79 receptions while racking up 1,260 yards and eight touchdowns.

Maybe he wasn’t considered a true Heisman contender because of the Spartans’ 7-6 record that season, but if you put Thomas on the 2013 Rose Bowl champion team, he would likely have been the top player on offense and a guy who would be serious considered a Heisman threat at the WR position.

As Spartan fans, you have to miss Thomas because he was basically a flash in the pan before heading off to the NFL.

Next: 4. Javon Ringer, RB