The first game of the season is in the books for Michigan State football. There are a lot of new faces on this roster, so who played?
Heading into this year, there has been a lot of talk and discussion about how both incoming freshman and previously redshirted players could impact Michigan State football on its quest to improve from last year’s 5-7 disaster. With Michigan State blowing out Central Michigan 31-7 following a tremendous second half, the last few minutes saw the backups take the field. While some people head for the exits, this is actually one of my favorite times of the games. Seeing the underclassmen and backups get their first game action is one of the many reasons I love college football.
Players like Dillon Tatum, Jaden Mangham, and Tyrell Henry all saw extensive action last night, but also saw a lot of the field last year. Henry did record his first career catch after being mostly a return man all of last year. That said, what a catch it was for a first career catch.
That brings me to this article. Why not check out which freshmen got to see the field Friday night? For this week, and any proceeding week where a transfer sees the field for the first time, I will also be including players who recently transferred in.
Seeing that this is Week 1, there are quite a few names listed. Get those notepads ready.
Which transfers played?
Nathan Carter, RB (transfer from UConn): I believe we all knew Carter played this week. After an offseason hyping up the transfer, Carter sparked the Michigan State football offense, giving an electric debut a Spartan running back. While not Kenneth Walker III’s destruction of Northwestern or Eli Collins 192-yard outburst against Western, Carter had a handful of explosive runs, finishing with 113 yards and a touchdown.
Alante Brown, WR (transfer from Nebraska): Alante Brown’s first snaps as a Spartan was a long time coming, The one-time Spartan commit Brown saw the field on special teams. However, he and is the most controversial name on this list. After a scary first kickoff in which he was hit and had his muscles lock up, Brown later recorded another return for 16 yards in the second quarter. Brown was originally cleared by the training staff and returned, but was later seen in street clothes for the second half.
Jaylan Franklin, TE (transfer from Wisconsin): Franklin made his Spartan debut, being one of the many new tight ends for the Spartans. He did not record a catch.
Armorion Smith, DB (transfer from Cincinnati): The defensive back got a few plays in the secondary, and came up with a punishing open field tackle.
Tyneil Hopper, TE (transfer from Boise State): Another tight end transfer, Hopper played a few series down the stretch and made some solid contributions blocking for Carter and Berger.
Aaron Alexander, LB (transfer from UMass): The Belleville product returned to his home state and played on special teams in his first Spartan game.
Dre Butler, DT (transfer from Liberty): The defensive tackle saw his first time in the green and white and saw a few series during his debut. He had three assisted tackles.
Tunmise Adeleye, DE (transfer from Texas A&M): One of the more anticipated debuts Friday, Adeleye saw extensive playing time throughout both halves. He recorded a solo tackle and assisted tackle.
Michael O’Shaugnassey, P (transfer from Ohio State): The former Buckeyes punter was sent in to get some action after Ryan Eckley’s first few punts. He recorded two punts for 68 yards.
Keyshawn Blackstock Sr., OL (JUCO Transfer): Another anticipated debut, Blackstock got to play near the end of the game.
Ken Talley, DE (transfer from Penn State): After a year of practicing with the team, Talley, the former Penn State transfer, was finally eligible to participate in a game. He saw a handful of snaps and did not record a tackle.
Jonathan Kim, K (transfer from North Carolina): The Spartans appear to finally have a kicker. Kim drilled a field goal over 45 yards and three of the Spartans’ extra points. Additionally, he tackled kickoff duties for the Spartans.
Jalen Sami, DL (transfer from Colorado): Sami was part of the defensive line rotation that stifled CMU to 4.0 yards per carry. He added in an assisted tackle to the Michigan State football victory.
Freshmen and first playing times
Jordan Hall, LB (Freshman): The most hyped up recruit not named Bai Jobe got to see the field for the first time in Week 1, playing a couple of second half series and aiding the Spartan with a few good snaps in coverage and a solo tackle.
Antonio Gates Jr., WR (RS-Freshman): Gates saw the field quite a bit Friday, recording snaps as WR3 for multiple drives. Gates did not record a catch, but that day is coming soon.
Davion Primm, RB (RS-Sophomore): Primm saw the field on special teams, his second career game.
Joseph Martinez, RB (RS-Junior): The former wide receiver turned running back also saw the field on special teams. This was the first career game for the walk-on.
Chance Rucker, DB (Freshman): Rucker was another freshman to make his debut, playing the last series. After allowing some early yards in the series, he helped shut down the last second scoring attempt from the Chippewas.
James Schott, DE (RS-Freshman): After redshirting last year, Schott played sparingly in the second half, including all of the last series. He recorded his first career assisted tackle.
Jalen Thompson, DL (Freshman): Another freshman to see the field, Thompson had a “blink and you miss it” debut. He played one snap.
Ashton Lepo, OL (RS-Freshman): Lepo got to see a few series after redshirting last year.
Kristian Phillips, OL (RS-Freshman): “Big Dooley” also got to see the field on the last series or so.
Ben Nelson, OL/DL (RS-Freshman): Nelson saw a handful of defensive snaps.
Who did not play?
In this, I will highlight a few players who I had expected or hoped to see on the field.
Bai Jobe, DE (Freshman): The most shocking name on this list, I was expecting to see Jobe rotating in with the first team at points. The highest rated commit in the 2023 class was not on field during the entire game. He was not mentioned in the injury report, nor did any journalist report Jobe as even on the dressed list. Everything around Jobe was eerily silent Friday night. For all we know, he may have been held out for precautionary reasons.
Andrew Depaepe, (Freshman): The freshman did not play, but I believe he is recovering from an injury suffered during his senior year of high school.
Jaren Mangham, RB (transfer from USF): The brother of defensive back Jaden Mangham (who played every defensive snap this week, by the way) was listed on the injury report and did not see the field Friday. Mel Tucker did hint at the elder Mangham returning this week, however.
Sam Leavitt, QB (Freshman): The hyped up quarterback that the Spartans flipped late in last year’s cycle did not play. Considering that it was Noah Kim’s first career start, the staff unsurprisingly played Kim until the final drive.
Semar Melvin, DB (transfer from Wisconsin): Melvin was listed as out this week on the injury report, and Tucker is notoriously tight-lipped on how long players could be out.
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