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Michigan State football: 3 post-spring breakout candidates for 2023

I’m buying stock in these guys.

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Michigan State football
© Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

We saw some Michigan State football players stand out in the spring scrimmage and we also heard high praise for others.

Expectations for the 2023 Michigan State football season are set now that spring ball is in the books. The Spartans had an eventful spring and while it hasn’t been a great offseason thus far, some players have stood out in a positive way.

Without further ado, here are my three favorite breakout candidates after spring camp.

Honorable mention: Antonio Gates Jr., Katin Houser, Noah Kim, Jordan Hall, Montorie Foster, Dillon Tatum

Tyrell Henry, WR, Sophomore

I could have closed my eyes and picked any one of the receivers left on the roster after we saw Germie Bernard and Keon Coleman transfer out and Jayden Reed head to the NFL. Antonio Gates Jr. looked solid in the public “scrimmage” but I think the one earning the most praise this spring is Tyrell Henry.

Plus, he has plenty of confidence, vowing to “show out” with Coleman gone.

Henry played primarily special teams last season but he can be an electric athlete in the receiving corps. He’s speedy and shifty and can be a true YAC (yards after catch) specialist. I’m buying stock in Henry as well as Gates Jr. and fellow 2022 classmate Jaron Glover.

Malik Spencer, DB, Sophomore

Every year, there seems to be one player that stands out in terms of getting shoutouts and hype from teammates. This year, that’s Malik Spencer.

The sophomore defensive back battled through injuries last season and was never really a factor on the field, but many teammates are projecting a big year for the Georgia native. And with plenty of spots up for grabs in the defensive backfield, the opportunity is there.

I have no reason to disagree with the likes of Ken Talley, Darius Snow, and Xavier Henderson who have all tabbed Spencer as a breakout candidate.

Nathan Carter, RB, Junior

You may have thought that the pass defense was the biggest weakness for Michigan State last year, but it was actually the run game. The pass defense actually ranked in the top 100 a year ago while the rushing attack was No. 111 in the country, ahead of just Indiana and Iowa in the Big Ten.

Nathan Carter was brought in to help change that.

The former UConn back has the frame and the explosiveness to be just what the run game needs. Jarek Broussard was supposed to be a really solid complementary back in 2022, but that didn’t quite happen. I think Carter will be just that and more.

Jalen Berger returns as the projected starter, but I can see Carter assuming the RB1 role by the end of the season. He was on the verge of a monster season with UConn in 2022 before getting hurt against Michigan.

Writer, co-owner of Spartan Shadows. Michigan State and college football expert at FanSided and formerly of The Detroit News. Expert on all things Michigan State. Connor Muldowney has written about Michigan State since graduating from the university with a degree in journalism back in 2013. Ten years of experience as a Michigan State writer/reporter.

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