EAST LANSING - A lack of experience can be nerve-wracking for fans. But for a coach, being surrounded by youth can bring out the best in you.
That is the situation this spring for Michigan State wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel.
Last season, Samuel's first in East Lansing, looked like a coach's dream. His roster was deep and experienced and featured B.J. Cunningham, Michigan State's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards. His group of prolific receivers - featuring seniors Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nichol - racked up over 2400 receiving yards and hauled in 19 touchdowns.
The scenery this April couldn't be more different. Samuel's position group at the beginning of spring ball included only one player with game experience. That player was Tony Lippett, who had made the move to full-time wide receiver after splitting his time between wideout and defensive back since coming to East Lansing. The wide receiver on the roster with the most experience was Bennie Fowler, whose lingering injury from 2011 prompted the coaching staff to keep him out of contact drills for the duration of spring practice.
Lippett would enter the spring listed as the No.1 receiver, and the redshirt sophomore appeared to be embracing the leadership role and the welcomed spotlight. But on April 12, the news was released that Lippett had sprained his ankle and would miss the rest of spring football. Due to what Samuel referred to as 'blazing 4.3 speed', the coaching staff decided to try redshirt sophomore Jeremy Langford - a recent addition to the running back group - over to wide receiver.
While the situation has caused hand-wringing amongst some of Spartan fandom, the mood has been quite the opposite for coach Samuel. His group includes: Transfer DeAnthony Arnett(who is still awaiting word regarding NCAA clearance to be eligible for the 2012 season), John Jakubik (a transfer from Kalamazoo college), Kyle Kerrick (an 18-year-old early- enrollee from Pennsylvania), and Georgians Keith Mumphery and Andre Sims Jr.
Pounding the playbook, focusing on fundamentals...Samuel couldn't be happier. And according to every DB you can find after practice, these receivers couldn't be faster.