EAST LANSING - Redshirt freshman running back Riley Bullough, sophomore defensive tackle Lawrence Thomas and sophomore walk-on wide receiver A.J. Troup were among the newsmakers during Wednesday's annual Green-White Game draft.
Also, redshirt freshman offensive tackle Jack Conklin was selected ahead of players listed above him on the depth chart, and Shilique Calhoun was selected ahead of a venerable starter. Meanwhile, the order of selections at the wide receiver position featured two walk-ons (Troup and John Jakubik) being selected ahead of four scholarship receivers (Macgarrett Kings, Monty Madaris, DeAnthony Arnett and Kyle Kerrick).
The Green and White will square off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Spartan Stadium. A complete rundown of the draft order can be found below.
Junior center Travis Jackson was selected as the first overall player. Senior quarterback Andrew Maxwell, captaining the White team, announced Jackson as his first pick.
"We have at least three offensive linemen that have been running with the ones," Maxwell said. "For me, as a quarterback, that was something that was high on my list. That's the reason we took Travis number one. When you've been working with a guy like Travis for two years and you have that rapport, you have a center you can trust, you can get the snap with. That's something for me that I wasn't willing to compromise on."
In a unique draft format, after Jackson was drafted, all other underclass guards and centers were open for selection. Max Bullough and the Green team responded by picking Kodi Kieler, who has been repping as the No. 2 center this spring.
Taking Jackson over Kieler represented one of the biggest dropoffs on the roster from first to second string, hence Jackson's value in this format. Kieler, a redshirt freshman, is playing center for the first time in his life this spring.
Riley Bullough First RB Selected
A week after performing surprisingly well in auditions at running back, redshirt freshman Riley Bullough was the first running back selected on Tuesday when his brother, Max, opened up the position for selections in the third round.
With Riley Bullough off the board, Maxwell picked junior Jeremy Langford for the White team. Nick Hill then went to the Green team and redshirt freshman Nick Tompkins was taken last, by the White.
Maxwell wasn't surprised that Max selected his brother.
"He has had a couple of productive weeks for us, and then Max taking him, the Bullough family, the bias there too, but Riley certainly has made an impression," Maxwell said.
Bullough led all rushers with 43 yards on 11 carries during Saturday's Jersey Scrimmage, including a pair of 1-yard TD runs. He moved to running back last week after Hill, Langford and Tompkins failed to give the offense enough tackle-breaking punch.
"I picked him because he's earned it," said Max Bullough. "It has nothing to do with being my brother. He has picked up the offense very quickly and he has run downhill. He has made plays where other guys haven't and we want him on our team.
"I like him. I like that he's been running downhill, he's been picking up pass pro. He's been doing well, he's my brother, but he earned everything he got with that first pick."
Mumphery, Troup Go High; Arnett Slides
Wide receiver selections were expected to be the most interesting of the day, and that indeed turned out to be the case.
With senior Bennie Fowler designated to play for Bullough's Green team, Maxwell opened up wide receiver selections in the eighth round. The late nature of WR selections indicates that both sides felt there was little dropoff from the top receivers to the second, third and fourth receivers.
Maxwell raised eyebrows when he selected junior Keith Mumphery as his first wide receiver.
Bullough then countered with sophomore Aaron Burbridge, who is seen as MSU's most explosive and rapidly-developing WR, but Burbridge was slowed a bit in early April by a sore hamstring.
In fact, Maxwell picked another walk-on, John Jakubik with his third WR selection, ahead of Kings, Madaris, Arnett and Kyle Kerrick.
"You know you made a good pick when you call out a name and everyone on the other team is like, 'Aww!'" Maxwell said. "When we took Troup, they were 'Ohhh.' There was give and take, some going back and forth on the third wide out. When they reacted the way they did we knew we made a good pick."
No one would know better than Maxwell. He throws to these guys every day. He hooked up with Troup for a 12-yard TD pass during Saturday's Jersey Scrimmage.
Troup (6-2, 205, Minneapolis) had three catches for 31 yards on Saturday. A week earlier in the first scrimmage, he had three catches for 97 yards, including a slant-and-run TD of 76 yards and a 13-yard TD fade from Maxwell. Both of those catches were against second-string defense, but Troup's rise as a potential playing group guy has suddenly received a major push of credibility.
"I think a lot of us have seen it coming," Maxwell said. "He is one of the most improved football players that I have ever seen in my entire life, from the time he came in to now. Last year, you could see it in practice. In scout team against our defense, you get a chance to watch Troup, you see him making some plays."
Troup (6-2, 205) walked on at Michigan State in the fall of 2011 after turning down scholarship offers from Northern Iowa and North Dakota. He redshirted in 2011 while recovering from a knee injury.
"He's had a great spring and he's been making plays," Maxwell said. "That's something that we knew was in him and certainly has been showing it."
Troup's selection overshadowed Maxwell's selection of Mumphery.
"He's just a guy that I've played with for a number of years," Maxwell said. "He has really put an emphasis on his route running, he has really put an emphasis on the detail."
Mumphery (6-0, 208, Jr., Vienna, Ga.) led Michigan State in receiving last year with 42 catches. His 515 yards receiving trailed only Fowler's 524.
"Keith has had a great spring for us," Maxwell said. "He has come out every day and worked out and he has done the right thing and he has caught the ball well and he has run well through the catch so when he's sitting there on the board you've got to take him."
Arnett was the eighth WR selected.
"It's not that he hasn't had a good spring," Maxwell said. "I personally just felt like we should go with a Troup, go with a Jakubik, maybe a little more consistency, but that's not to say DeAnthony hasn't made huge improvements. He's a guy who from the time he has come in here, all he's done is get better. So as we continue to go through this thing as he continues to get more reps and experience he is going to just become a better and better player for us."
Jakubik (6-0, 188, Jr., Plymouth, Mich.) made a noteworthy rise last spring with a pair of productive scrimmage. However, that didn't carry over into a role in the fall, during a season in which MSU had terrible trouble harnessing consistency from the main receivers in the playing group.
Jakubik hasn't made a splash on the stat sheet in the two Jersey Scrimmages this spring, but Maxwell thought enough of him to take him ahead of four scholarship receivers, including two (Kings and Arnett) who caught some passes last year.
"Smooth route runner, smart guy, going to know his assignment, is going to be where he needs to be and is going to catch the football for you," Maxwell said of Jakubik. "He's another guy when he's sitting there on the board it's hard to pass him up."
Maxwell on Troup, Mumphery, Langford and other selections:
Bullough on Riley Bullough, Lawrence Thomas, DeAnthony Arnett and other selections:
Fullback: G: Trevon Pendleton (5-11, 248, Soph.) W: Ty Hamilton (6-0, 233, Jr.) G: Matt Rea (6-1, 255, Jr.)
Outside Linebackers: W: Taiwan Jones (6-3, 240, Jr.) G: Darien Harris (6-0, 215, Soph.) (Senior designate: Danny Folino on White; Jairus Jones on Green.)
Middle Linebacker: W: Pat Rhomberg (6-0, 225, Soph.) G: Matthew Eleweke (6-3, 205, R-Fr.) (Senior designate: Kyler Elsworth on White; Max Bullough on Green; Riley Bullough penciled in as back-up.)
Specialists G: PK Kevin Cronin (6-1, 205, R-Fr.) W: P Mike Sadler (6-0, 185, Jr.) G: LSN Taybor Pepper (6-4, 200, Soph.) W: LSN Leland Ewing (6-2, 223, Jr.) G: PK Evan Fischer (5-10, 170, Fr.) (Senior designate: Kevin Muma will kick for White and punt for Green)
Tight Ends: W: Andrew Gleichert (6-5, 255, Jr.) G: Josiah Price (6-4, 243, R-Fr.) W: Juwan Caesar (6-4, 212, Soph.) G: Evan Jones (6-5, 248, R-Fr)
Leftover QBs G: Tommy Vento (6-1, 191, Soph.) W: Paul Andrie (6-2, 175, R-Fr.)
White Team: Head Coach Dave Warner
White Offense QB: Andrew Maxwell, Tyler O'Connor RB: Jeremy Langford, Nick Tompkins FB: Ty Hamilton TE: Andrew Gleichert, Juwan Caesar
WR: Keith Mumphery, John Jakubik, Kyle Kerrick WR: A.J. Troup, Monty Madaris, Matt Macksood
LT: Jack Conklin LG: Blake Treadwell, Benny McGowan C: Travis Jackson RG: Connor Kruse, Shawn Kamm RT: Fou Fonoti
White Defense DE: Denzel Drone, Joel Heath DT: Micajah Reynolds, David Fennell DT: James Kittredge, Damon Knox DE: Shilique Calhoun
MLB: Kyler Elsworth Star: Danny Folino Sam: Taiwan Jones, Ty Hamilton can play Sam