Less than a month before fall camp so let's talk about the personnel returning to their respective positions and how the talent and depth stacks up against last year. This thread is all offense.
OL - Starting lineup (asterisk denotes returning starter) coming out of spring is:
|LT - Wes Schwitzer JR*||-|
|LG - Jeremiah Kolone SO*||-|
|C - Keoni Taylor SO||Peterson (graduated)|
|RG - Chris Gonzalez SO||Velichko (starting tackle)|
|RT - Nate Velichko SO*||Evan Sarver JR|
Wildcard - Question: Can highly regarded freshman Dominic Fredrickson make noise come fall camp?
Three of the five starters return and, in looking at the above units, moving Velichko to tackle (over last year's incumbent-Sarver) from a starting guard in 2014, and having a young and athletic Gonzalez replace him inside looks to be a wash. BUT, the reason for an edge having to go to the 2014 OL is SJS has lost all conference Petersen at C (arguably the most important position on the line). EDGE 2014
TE - Billy Freeman (JR)** returns and is an all-conference type player. But, he's been injury prone and the Spartans have lost Vollert (transfer) who appeared to be the only other receiving threat at TE on the roster. A kid like true FR Josh Oliver may get a chance to catch some passes, as converted LB Brad Kuh (JR) and converted OT Matt Spadero (FR) look to be used predominately as blocking TE's, which, to be fair, will improve the goal line and rush O. But Vollert could stretch the field, and I think SJS could have really utilized his skills as a receiver. Freeman was hurt half the season so they didn't get out of him what he's capable of, but still, the EDGE today is 2014 due to Vollert's departure.
WR - Contributors return in Tyler Winston (JR)*, Hansell Wilson (SR)*, and Tim Crawley (JR). Add more of Jourdan Soares (SO) and a newcomer who all have high hopes for, Justin Holmes (FR), and this group is solid and should be better. Holmes, with size, should take some pressure off of Winston who teams keyed on. I think we'll see less of Wilson and Crawley due to Holmes and Soares and possibly see talented newcomers, Taeon Mason (true FR) and Kanya Bell (no longer on team - Starks), and even Jeremy Kelly (true FR) who they could decide to use on offense due to a deep secondary. Find a QB and this group could really flourish. No big losses at receiver from '14 to '15. EDGE 2015
TB/FB - All starters return in Tyler Ervin (SR)*, Thomas Tucker (SO), Jarrod Lawson (JR), and FB's Shane Smith (JR)* and Chris Dadsen (JR). Ervin, with a full year at RB under his belt, is a homerun threat; Tucker, is better between the tackles and runs hard for a smaller back; Lawson is a north south guy, hard to bring down, and possibly a more short yardage option. All have had success, but of course Tucker was out last year and Lawson had his issues. FB Smith returns and is a formidable lead blocker. There is much more depth here this year, and another true freshman who will get a long look, Malik Roberson, could be added if he cracks the top three. No significant losses here. EDGE 2015
QB - Joe Gray (SR)* is a year more mature and experienced and has seasoned OC/QB coach in Al Borges to work with him. I think he gets a good shot early in the season and, if he can improve his footwork and hit on some deeper balls, he could have a much improved year. Backups are improved over Jurich in Malik Watson (JR) and Kenny Potter (JR), and they will get shots if Gray flounders. Hopefully, Gray takes off early in the year and wins, as this team will go as the QB goes. EDGE 2015