EAST LANSING - Ten new names were listed on the first string today when Michigan State released the initial depth chart for 2011 spring football practice.
In addition to those 10, two others are manning first-string positions this spring while starters recover from injury.
Video by Gillian Van Stratt
Senior left guard Joel Foreman (wrist) and senior nose tackle Kevin Pickelman (neck) are out for at least the majority of the spring, but are expected to start in the fall.
"We will probably hold Pickelman out the majority of the spring," Dantonio said. "He may practice near the end. He had a neck injury, so we are holding him out. But he is an established player for us, an established starter."
As for the 10 new names on the first string, redshirt freshman right offense tackle Skyler Schofner and sophomore right defensive end Will Gholston are noteworthy as young stars on the rise.
"Schofner is a very, very talented young freshman," said head coach Mark Dantonio. "He had an outstanding freshman year. He is everything you want as an offensive tackle. He is 6-6, 310 pounds and he is very active. He has toughness, he has great feet and is athletic. So we are going to give him the oportunity right at the outset and we will build it from there."
Gholston saw action in 10 games last year as a back-up defensive end. He missed the last three with a shoulder injury.
"We took him off the field last year so that we could get him back for the spring," Dantonio said. "He will be functional throughout the spring. I would say he is probably going to be at full strength for the last three weeks of spring. Initially we need to be careful with him.
"He did go through winter conditioning, probably 80 percent of it. He is right where he needs to be and where we expect him to be at this point. He should be a dominant player for us."
New Kids on the Starting Block
Other new names on the first string:
Senior left tackle Jared McGaha. He gets the first crack at replacing the graduated D.J. Young.
Senior tight end Garrett Celek. He is back after missing last season with an injury. He is backed up by newly reinstated Dion Sims, who is back practicing after missing last season due to being involved in a laptop theft ring. At sixth string is Brian Linthicum, who was last year's second-stringer and the leading candidate to replace the graduated Charlie Gantt but must work his way out of the doghouse after being arrested in Colorado for third-degree assault earlier this month.
Senior fullback Todd Anderson. He is a former walk-on who moved from defensive end during winter conditioning. He has the inside track toward replacing the graduated Nick Bendzuck.
Junior Mike linebacker Steve Gardiner. The tough Ohioan will be pushed by new-and-improved TyQuan Hammock and sophomore Max Bullough, who was also arrested in Colorado earlier this month. Bullough and Linthicum will be suspended for the first two practices of the spring.
Sophomore 'star' linebacker Denicos Allen. He moves into the No. 1 job at slot linebacker, replacing Chris Norman. Norman is listed as the new Sam linebacker, moving inside to take over the for graduated Eric Gordon. Norman will be limited to mental reps and non-contact drills for at least the first three weeks of spring due to an elbow injury sustained at the Capital One Bowl.
Sophomore strong safety Jairus Jones. He was second-string last year, behind Marcus Hyde. Watch out for rising sophomore Isaiah Lewis, who was functional last year as the No. 1 nickel back. Lewis repped solely at nickel back last year and is still new to playing as a two-deep safety. Jones will need to be solid to hold off Lewis, who is a fast, hard hitter.
Sophomore boundary cornerback Darqueze Dennard. He was second-string a year ago and is expected to fill in for the graduated Chris L. Rucker. Dennard saw mop up duty last year as a true freshman. That experience will be valuable for him this year.
At center, four players were listed as co-starters, in the race to replace the graduated John Stipek. The four are junior Ethan Ruhland sophomore Nate Klatt, redshirt freshman Travis Jackson and former defensive tackle Blake Treadwell.
Treadwell, the son of former MSU offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, offers one of the more interesting position change experiments of the spring.
"We will evaluate it as we go," Dantonio said. "He has been a starter for us (on defense). I would anticipate him being in the mix. If he is not in the mix, then he will probably play on the defensive side of the ball.
"He was an outstanding offensive lineman coming out of high school. We have to make sure we have guys that are athletic enough to play center and offensive guard and we want to give him the opportunity to get into the mix."
"They will like him over there," said defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. "I don't anticipate him coming back to defense."
In Foreman's absence at left guard, Michigan State listed junior John Deyo and sophomore Micajah Reynolds as co-starters. Reynolds was a second-string right guard last season and was impressive in a handful of games in a mop-up role.
In Pickelman's absence at nose tackle, the Spartans list junior Anthony Rashad White. White saw action as a second-string defensive tackle last year.
"He was a junior college transfer, so he was a first-year guy like a freshman in a lot of ways," Narduzzi said. "He could really take a big step this spring."
Hammock appears to be the most improved player coming out of winter conditioning. Hammock moved from inside linebacker to fullback last season. He was a star on special teams, especially kickoff coverage, and saw limited duty at fullback. But Hammock, a hard-hitter from Fort Wayne, Ind., lost close to 15 pounds during winter conditioning. With it came a new burst in speed.
"I saw him in winter conditioning and he looked slimmer and a lot faster and I said, 'We need to give him another look back on defense,'" Narduzzi said.
"He was 255 pounds (last fall)," Dantonio said. "He has his weight back down to around 230. He is moving very well. If you look at one guy who had a great winter conditioning program, I would say TyQuan Hammock did that.
"He is moving very effectively. He was an outstanding player on special teams. He shows the ability to strike people. We are looking forward to watching him this spring and see how he handles either of those two linebacker positions, because he is moving very, very effectively."