Now that undefeated and #5 ranked Michigan State football is having their best season since the 1966 national title year, it's time to re-examine their very proud tradition at the wide receiver position.
Of all the position groups on the gridiron, certainly receiver is where MSU can boast their biggest names: Andre
Rison, Muhsin Muhammad, Derrick Mason, Plaxico Burress, Kirk Gibson
(although he really made his name in another sport), Courtney Hawkins,
Charles Rogers, Mark Ingram, Chris Baker, the list goes on and on. You can even make a pretty good shirt list of just the guys that wore #1 in East Lansing.
Senior Mark Dell is keeping the trend going. MSU's leader in
receiving yards this season ranks 12th in MSU history with 1,759
receiving yards (16.9 avg., good for 16th) and 20th in career receptions
with 104. And he also has the 5th highest single game receiving yards
total in State history (202 vs. California in '08)
"We're definitely blessed at being in the same program, we're just
trying to keep on the great tradition that they left, like you said:
Muhsin Muhammad, Andre Rison, Devin Thomas, Blair White is doing really
well too," Dell said after I caught up to him at Northwestern.
The secret to Dell's success is simple. "I try to be consistent with
catching, I know not everything is going to be perfect, it can be windy
with different climate changes, but as a receiver it's your job to make
sure you come down with the ball. And that's what I've been working on
this off-season, to make sure I have zero drops, and I've done right so
far," he said.
The 6-2, 200 senior from Farmington Hills Michigan; ranks ninth in
the Big Ten in receiving yards per game (58.7 ypg.) and eighteen of his
22 catches (82 percent) have resulted in either a touchdown or a first
down. I asked him which NFL WRs he looks up to.
"Jerry Rice is definitely one of my favorites, Reggie Wayne, Calvin
Johnson, the list goes on and on I definitely have players that I look
at and take things from," he responded.
The Spartans are known as a running-first team, but it's their
passing game that has won the last two contests for them. As defenses
have keyed in on the run...
"When you have such phenomenal backs, it's only a matter of time
before teams really key in on the running game, then it's our job to
make plays as receivers. When things get clogged up in the middle, and
then you go over the top you have to make plays and we did that today,"
Dell's the leader, and by far the most NFL ready of State's receivers, but they have a very deep core.
"We have B.J. Cunningham, Keith Nichol, Keshawn Martin- who's a
little banged up today. Bennie Fowler came out there today. I feel we
have a lot of depth in our receiving corps, and if you take out one
receiver and put another receiver in, you're not losing anything, and I
feel that's one of our greatest assets," Dell said.
Photo credit Flickr
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Filed under: Michigan State Spartans
Tags: b.j. cunningham, bennie fowler, keshawn martin, mark dell, mark dell michigan state, mark dell receiver, michigan state football, michigan state football top ten, michigan state football undefeated, michigan state wide receivers, msu wide receivers, spartans wide receivers