Michigan State football opens as nearly five touchdown favorites against the Akron Zips. I would like to look at a few candidates to see the field late.
On Saturday, the Michigan State football team has their second game of the season, against another school from the MAC. With the Spartans starting the game as 34.5-point favorites via DraftKings, it is unlikely that this game is close.
I do not know about everyone, but I know one of my favorite parts of watching a Spartan blowout is seeing walk-ons, depth players, and freshmen receive their first snaps at the collegiate level.
Very few teams have turned over as much as Mel Tucker’s in recent years. Which boils down to this question: who are some players to look for?
In this article, I plan on highlighting underclassmen mostly. They are the future of this program and it can be their first chance to make an impact with the Spartan faithful.
Note: Jaden Mangham and Germie Bernard will both not be on this list, as they each received considerable playing time last week against the Western Michigan Broncos. That being said, I would not be surprised if Mangham gathers his first interception or Bernard gets his second touchdown of the season.
The case for WR Antonio Gates Jr.
As one of the highest-rated freshmen in Michigan State football’s recruiting class from last year, I would not be surprised to see the Fordson (Mich.) alum take his first snaps of the season.
With one of the best tight ends in football history as his father, Gates was made to play football and be an amazing receiver. Gates was frequently appearing on my Twitter feed last year Moss’ing defenders in games and camps, and with his positional coach Courtney Hawkins having played nine years in the NFL, I can only imagine Gates has gotten better. In addition, Jayden Reed getting bruised up against Western might see a reduced snap count for the veteran this week.
This is not really part of the case for Gates, but an informational bit that I thought added to the article: Akron and Kent State (Antonio Gates Sr.’s college) are bitter rivals. How sweet would it be for the family if Antonio Gates Jr.’s first career touchdown came against his dad’s collegiate rival?
The case against Gates
Gates was injured and did not dress for last week’s game. Depending on what the coaching staff has seen from the freshman, he could be held out until fully healthy for a more pivotal matchup. With the depth the Spartans have at receiver, rushing Gates back to the field is not a necessity. If he is fully healthy and ready to go this week, watch for the next Spartan receiver wearing No. 7 to stand out. Not to add pressure on Gates, but the last two No. 7s (Cody White and Ricky White, no relation) have each had a 150-plus receiving yard game as freshmen.