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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wayne State's Faulkner named semifinalist for William V. Campbell Trophy

Wayne State reserve linebacker Matt Faulkner, a redshirt senior from Bloomfield Hills Lahser, was one of 121 players from all divisions of college football named as a semifinalist for the 2010 William V. Campbell Trophy on Thursday.

Formerly known as the Draddy Trophy, and now named after the chairman of Intuit and a former Columbia University head football coach, the award is given to the college football player with "the best combination of academics, community service and on-the-field performance. It's often referred to as the "Academic Heisman."

Nominees must be in their final year of eligibility and carry a minimum 3.2 GPA and be a significant contributor. According to the Wayne State website, Faulkner had eight tackles through the first two weeks of the season, but none since. Faulkner is a two-time GLIAC All-Academic honoree.

Finalists will be announced on Oct. 28.

Unlike many of the major college football awards — which are theoretically open to players from all divisions, but always go to D-I players — the Campbell Trophy (or Draddy) has been awarded to players from lower divisions. Along with Faulkner, there are 11 other Division II players, and 27 from Division III. Western Michigan's Phil Swanson is the only other player from a Michigan school to be named a semifinalist, however.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Live chat Northern Colorado vs. No. 25 MSU

Week 4 of the college football season sends me back to Spartan Stadium, where I'll be live chatting from Michigan State's noon game against an FCS (or I-AA) opponent in Northern Colorado. Join me a little before kickoff insight from my perch high above the field. It's a view that offensive coordinator Don Treadwell — who's filling in for head coach Mark Dantonio — won't have for once. In the absence of Dantonio, who suffered a mild heart attack after last Saturday's epic overtime gamble against Notre Dame, Treadwell will be on the sidelines for the game, running the Spartan ship.

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West Bloomfield's Terrance Turner shines under stage lights, too

Indiana University's Terrance Turner, a graduate of West Bloomfield High School, has been on the big stage on the gridiron for years, but he's also an accomplished actor, majoring in theater and drama at IU.

Here is a good story about the kid from the Indy Star.
The York Daily Record in York County, Pa., also did a story on the the IU senior last year. The link is here.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Central Michigan gets easy road win at Eastern Michigan

The Central Michigan University Chippewas, coming off a 13-10 overtime road loss to MAC East preseason favorite Temple, got back on the winning track with an easy 52-14 win over winless Eastern Michigan. The Eagles (0-3) are on a 15-game losing skid, but had a chance to win each of their first two contests, and had given CMU fits in the last few years.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

UMass at No. 20 Michigan live chat

Join me for a live chat from Michigan Stadium, as the Minutemen of the University of Massachusetts visit the Big House to play the No. 20-ranked Wolverines and quarterback sensation Denard Robinson.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Michigan State live blog from game vs. FAU at Ford Field

Join me for a live chat from Michigan State's once-in-a-generation game in Detroit, when the Spartans (1-0) face Florida Atlantic (1-0) for a "road" game at Ford Field on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010.

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Friday, September 10, 2010


Where would Central Michigan be without Cody Wilson this season?

Well, probably still 1-1 after two Thursday contests — but still, it's clear that just two games into the Dan Enos era, the Chippewa offense — in serious flux after the departure of the record-setting trio of Dan LeFevour, Antonio Brown and Bryan Anderson — is dependent on the contributions of the 5-foot-10 sophomore from Rochester Adams.

Wilson's big play — an 81-yard kick return — set up CMU's first score in Week One's 33-0 shutout of Hampton, and the diminutive wideout made a similar game-altering play — a 70-yard reception — to set up the Chippewas' only TD in a 13-10 overtime loss to MAC East Division favorite Temple.

What's more, Wilson — who accounted for a full half (188 yards) of CMU's total offensive output Thursday — played a bit of quarterback in the Wildcat formation, running it well enough to help set up kicker David Harman's 31-yard, game-tying field goal to send the contest to overtime.
In all, Wilson has 344 all-purpose yards so far this season, on just 21 touches, averaging out to 16.4 yards per play.

The only flaw? Finishing.

Both of Wilson's big plays saw him get caught on the doorstep of the end zone, something that teammates teased him about after the opener. Both plays set up a short TD dive by a running back, though, so I can't imagine the teasing was too harsh.

For full disclosure, Wilson did have a fumble after a reception in the first half, one that — coming as it did on CMU's half of the field — could have cost the Chippewas, but teammate Matt Berning took him off the hook by forcing a fumble from Temple quarterback Chester Stewart a few plays later.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

The (much overdue) recap of Week One of college football

My apologies for waiting this long to get to this, but I was working on production of the NFL/Lions tab (shameless plug is at the right).

With absolutely no further ado, here's how our local kids did in Week One of the college football season:

• Our swing around the nation has to start in Happy Valley, Pa., where true freshman Robert Bolden, a graduate of Orchard Lake St. Mary's, guided the Penn State Nittany Lions to a season-opening win over Youngstown State. Bolden was 20-for-29 passing for 239 yards and two TDs in a 44-14 win. (My update story from Tuesday's paper is here.) Thanks to protection from his line, which includes Birmingham Groves' DeOn'tae Pannell at guard, Bolden wasn't sacked, although he did throw an interception. Bolden shared the Big Ten's Offensive Freshman of the Week honors with MSU's Le'Veon Bell, but will face a stiffer test this week, facing the defending national champs, No. 1 Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Penn State defense was led by Birmingham Brother Rice grad Chris Colasanti, who posted a 13-tackle performance in his first career start at middle linebacker.

• In Mount Pleasant, where Central Michigan University got its rookie head coach Dan Enos a win  in his first game, 33-0 over Hampton, Rochester Adams grad Cody Wilson was an early catalyst. On a free kick following a safety, Wilson brought it back 81 yards to the Hampton 2, setting up a TD by Carl Volny on the next play. Wilson also grabbed a TD pass among his four catches, and finished with 156 all-purpose yards.
"Cody Wilson was a huge bright spot for us today," Enos said. "We've seen it as a staff since we arrived in the spring and I've been saying that guy is a good football player. He has a chance to be an outstanding football player."
Teammate Joe Kinville (Novi Detroit Catholic Central) got a sack in his first career start, while Shamari Benton (Birmingham Brother Rice) forced a fumble.

• In a 41-10 win over Murray State, Kent State kick returner Anthony Bowman Jr. (OLSM) took the opening kick of the second half back 92 yards for a touchdown. He added a 17-yard reception, as well, giving him 109 all-purpose yards.

• Senior linebacker Tim Fort (Southfield) had 15 tackles and forced a fumble to lead Eastern Michigan's defense in a heartbreaking, last-minute, 31-27 loss to Army. Teammate Brandon Slater (Southfield-Lathrup) had five stops.

• Michigan State sophomore running back Edwin Baker (Oak Park) got his first career 100-yard game in just his second-ever start, running for 117 yards and two TDs in the Spartans' 38-14 win over Western Michigan. Bell added 141 yards, giving the Spartans two 100-yard rushers for the first time since 2006. Teammate Mark Dell (Farmington Hills Harrison) was the Spartans' leading receiver in the game with six catches for 81 yards, including a 37-yarder that was instrumental in the two-minute drive before halftime that finally woke up the MSU offense. Charlie Gantt (Birmingham Brother Rice) was MSU's next leading receiver with two catches for 49 yards. Kevin Muma (Troy) averaged 59.7 yards on seven kickoffs in the game.

• Michigan senior tight end Martell Webb (Pontiac Northern) didn't have a catch in the Wolverines' 30-10 win over Connecticut, but he was johnny-on-the-spot twice for U-M. The former hoops star combined with redshirt freshman Cameron Gordon to block a field goal attempt, and also alertly dove on a fumble on a botched handoff. Teammates James Rogers (Madison Heights Lamphere), Mike Martin (Novi Detroit Catholic Central) and Mark Moundros (North Farmington) all had two tackles each, but were major contributors in the much-maligned U-M defense holding UConn to just 16 first downs and 205 yards passing.

• Senior wide receiver Terrence Turner (West Bloomfield) had three catches for 14 yards in Indiana's 51-17 win over Towson.

• Senior wide receiver Sidney Stewart (Farmington Hills Harrison) had two catches for 30 yards in Northwestern's 23-21 win over Vanderbilt.

• Junior wide receiver Justin Siller (OLSM) had four catches for 34 yards in Purdue's 23-12 loss to Notre Dame.

• Pontiac Notre Dame grad Kyle McMahon led No. 1-ranked Grand Valley to a come-from-behind, 34-31 win over No. 8 West Texas A&M, completing 17 of 32 passes for 295 yards and two TDs in his first start for the Lakers. The Eastern Michigan transfer also ran for 61 yards and a score, earning himself GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Teammate and fellow transfer Norm Shuford (Farmington Hills Harrison) ran for 47 yards in the win.

• Saginaw Valley State wide receiver Nick Gallina (Troy) had seven catches for 132 yards and two scores in the No. 11-ranked Cardinals' 42-41 overtime loss to No. 5 California (Pa.). Gallina, who averaged 18.9 yards per catch, also had 31 yards on a pair of returns.

• Tight end Bren Bergquist (Clarkston) had three catches for 34 yards in No. 16-ranked Hillsdale's 35-17 win over Ferris State.

• A junior running back at Wayne State, Josh Renel (Rochester Adams) had 165 career yards entering the season, more used as a kick returner while Harlon Hill winner Joique Bell toted the majority of the rushing load. Renel surpassed that total in just one game this season, rushing for 192 yards and three scores in a 31-19 win over Northwood. Stay tuned for an upcoming feature story on Renel in The Oakland Press.

(Correction notice: In the college football preview special section, it said that OLSM grad Jason Semmes had transferred to Miami (Ohio) from Iowa, by way of a community college. It should have stated that he transferred directly after redshirting at Iowa. Stay tuned here for details when Jason and his younger brother, Justin, make an impact with the Redhawks.)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

MSU gets impressive debut from RB Le'Veon Bell

Of The Oakland Press
EAST LANSING — Le’Veon Bell stepped to the podium in the postgame press conference, flashed a shy smile and said quietly, “Uh, this is the first time I’ve ever done this, so ...”
Could’ve fooled most people who were at Spartan Stadium on Saturday to witness Bell’s debut in a Michigan State uniform, watching him become the first true freshman in program history to record a 100-yard game in his first game.
He looked like a seasoned veteran up until that point.
Filling in for Larry Caper, who was held out with a minor hand injury, Bell rumbled for 141 yards and two TDs on just 10 carries, pairing with Edwin Baker to give the Spartans a pair of 100-yard rushers in one game for the first time since 2006.
Michigan State had one back top 100 yards all of last year.
“I thought I had a pretty decent day today,” said the 6-foot-2, 230 pound Bell. “I always dreamed about something like this, you know? For my first time ever coming on a college field, it was just a great experience.”
The coaches decided to keep Caper — one of their two true freshman RBs from a year ago, along with Baker — out of the lineup as a precaution, letting Bell know as early as Tuesday that he’d get a good deal of work in the season opener against Western Michigan.
“I was real nervous,” said Bell, who admitted the early notice helped build the butterflies a bit. “My first play was actually on punts, so it wasn’t that bad. I was very nervous, once I came out there. Once I got that first hit, it drove all the butterflies away.”
He and Baker didn’t have a tremendously heavy workload — combining for just 27 carries — but they were murderously effective, helping the Spartans average 8 yards per carry, and 297 total rushing yards.
“We found a variety of run plays worked. Sometimes you get into a game, and only one play will be the one that works, and your other stuff doesn’t, and we found that we could bounce from inside zone, to outside zone, to gap runs. And it was all working. Which is good, to know that we can be multiple in the run game, and keep defenses on their toes, which will help going forward,” said MSU quarterback Kirk Cousins. “If we run the ball like we did today, my job will be very easy this year.”
Everyone knew about the Oak Park graduate, Baker, who’d led the Spartans in rushing four of the last seven games last year, after the coaches had flirted with redshirting him. But Bell could become a household name just as quickly.
Coaches had been gushing about him for awhile.
“I think he’s been a pleasant surprise, as far back as the spring. When he enrolled early last spring, he immediately got the attention of the coaches, as well as his teammates, in just his natural ability,” MSU offensive coordinator Don Treadwell said. “No. 1, he has the size you’d like for a Big Ten back, but the certain things he has that we call intangibles — as you all know, you can only coach them so far — and he exhibited those out there today. He has great vision for a running back. He has excellent feet for a guy his size.
“Obviously, we’re very excited about him. We think the sky’s the limit, as we keep moving forward.”
As the staff moves forward, it will have to figure out how to sort out what’s becoming a logjam at running back again.
Despite several other players moving in and out of the rotation throughout last season, Bell and Caper were the primary workhorses as true freshmen. Bell would make a third wheel for this season. And diminutive-yet-speedy Nick Hill, from Chelsea, is another freshman who may be able to carve himself out a spot in the playing group.
That gives Treadwell and the offensive coaches the task of sorting out who will get the carries.
“One thing, if want to say you have a stable, you want to have them at running back, because there’s a lot of wear and tear in the Big Ten, with the amount of games that we play,” Treadwell said. “If anything, it can be a good problem to have enough backs to carry the load for us this year.”

Rouse done for season
Head coach Mark Dantonio announced Saturday that fullback Josh Rouse, who left the game under his own power, would be out for the season with a neck injury. Dantonio said that Rouse would have surgery on a vertebra in his neck later Saturday night.
“It was an emotional thing, I think, for our football team at halftime,” Dantonio said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Josh at this point.”

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Finally healthy, U-M's Mike Martin ready to shoulder load on D-line

ANN ARBOR — This offseason, Mike Martin has been asked countless times who’s going to shoulder the load on the defensive line, now that Big Ten and two-time team MVP Brandon Graham has moved on to the NFL.

Every time, the junior nose tackle from Novi Detroit Catholic Central gives a very politically savvy answer, ascribing the unit’s ongoing success to group effort and improved depth.

Privately, though, it’s clear that Martin is just happy that he’ll personally be able to shoulder anything comfortably this fall.

The junior-to-be had offseason surgery on a shoulder that had bothered him since his freshman season, and is now finally pain-free.

“My freshman year, I hurt it initially, and the trainers just thought that if I rehabbed it, got strong, stayed in the weight room, it’d be fine. But every game, it would bother me,” said Martin, who still started all 12 games for the Wolverines a year ago.

“It was to the point where it would affect my tackling ability. If you can’t tackle playing defensive tackle, you know, what are you gonna do? So I was just trying to stick through the pain. I was probably playing at 80 percent some games.”

Something had to be done.

“It was something after the season that we talked about with my family and the trainers, and I took account of what (team physician) Dr. (Bruce) Miller had to say, and he kind of laid it out for me. Pretty much said it’s up to me in the end,” Martin said. “So I felt like it would be good for me to do it, since I felt that it did affect me a great amount last year.”

The surgery cost him all of spring practice, but has paid huge dividends now.

“This year, I feel great — 100 percent ... 110 percent. I feel great, so I’m really excited about this year,” said Martin, admitting he was a bit hesitant when he first stepped back on the field. “It was kind of weird. The first few days of camp, I was kind of like ... not afraid, but kind of like ‘Ah, man, I hope this holds up.’ Because you don’t know. First day of hitting, I was like ‘I haven’t felt it all day yet.’ I was expecting to feel something, but I went to the trainers, and was like, ‘Man, I didn’t feel anything. Woooo. It feels good to play healthy.’ ”

It’s a feeling he really hasn’t had since high school.

A three-sport all-stater in high school at Catholic Central — winning state titles in shot put and wrestling, and the 2007 Gatorade Player of the Year award for Michigan in football — Martin made an immediate impact for U-M, earning freshman All-American honors, leading all U-M freshmen with 20 tackles, adding a pair of sacks.

He contributed 51 tackles, 8.5 for loss, and two sacks last year, as well, but — with the exception of the Wisconsin game — didn’t dominate like his ridiculous weight room numbers would dictate. (Martin was one of the players singled out in the survey of the Big Ten’s top workout warriors, along with center David Molk, for his 505-pound bench press and 700-pound squat.)

Much of that was because he was playing one-armed for the entirety of his sophomore season.

That’ll change, now that the shoulder’s fixed.

Head coach Rich Rodriguez called Martin the team’s most consistent defensive player in camp, and strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis has called him “most impressive physical specimens” he’s ever seen.

“I take pride with coach Barwis, of being in great shape. We ran five 50s after our Beanie Bowl, and the defensive line was making them 15 seconds before our time. We’re in great shape, and I think we’ll be able to go for the long run, during the games,” Martin said. “I’m definitely ready. Last year, I think Brandon Graham played just under 700 plays on the season, and I played six plays less than him. So, you know, I was out there pretty much any time he was out there, and I was used to be out there 60 plays out of a game. So I’m ready for that workload. But I have (backups in) Adam Patterson and Will Campbell that I have great confidence in, that if I need a blow — a breather, they’re going to come in and step up.”

While Martin is plenty gregarious, that’s more how he’ll lead — by example, rather than with his mouth.

“I’m not much of a talker, a who-rah guy. I just go out there and play hard. Every now and then, (I) just talk to guys on the sideline, stuff like that,” said Martin, noting the youngsters on defense — particularly in the secondary — won’t need a pep-talk about how critical their play will be in Saturday’s opener against UConn.

“I think they know that, but I think if I was to say something to them before the game, it would be to calm them down a little bit, because I remember how I was my first game ever here. Emotions are running, and this is a big game, there’s gonna be a lot of people here,” Martin said. “Just get them calmed down a bit. Playing secondary you can’t play as riled up as playing D-line. You’ve gotta calm down a little bit back there.”

Matthew B. Mowery covers colleges for The Oakland Press. E-mail him at and follow him on Twitter



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High school exploits become urban legend for Michigan State's Jon Misch

EAST LANSING — Some stories grow more impressive (or embellished) with each retelling.

Such is the case with Jon Misch’s second-most famous stint on the piano.

While the Michigan State linebacker became a YouTube sensation with his rendition of a Chopin number during the talent show during bowl week in 2007, it’s not the first time he’s wowed people as a concert pianist.

While still in high school at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s — in fact, on the same day he helped lead the Eaglets to a district football title — the Waterford native volunteered to become an emergency fill-in on the piano, and save a wedding scheduled that afternoon for the chapel on the Orchard Lake campus. One of Misch’s teammmates happened across the tearful bride, who explained that her wedding couldn’t start until the pianist she’d hired showed up. There was one easy solution.

“I got a call from one of my captains, and he was like, ‘Hey, Misch. They’re having a wedding here, and the pianist didn’t show up. If you could come and play for them, I bet they’d appreciate it,’ ”

Misch remembered. “So I came over, and was like ‘Hey, I heard your pianist didn’t show up, and I’d like to play for you, if you want.’ ... I’d played for weddings before, so I put together a regular repertoire for a wedding, and they paid me $100.”

That’s where the story has started to become urban legend. Yes, Misch was still in uniform, and hadn’t showered yet — “I was all covered in dirt and everything,” he said. “It was funny.”

But some parts of the story have grown in to tall tale proportions.

“I’ve only told (the story) a few times, but now it’s gotten misconstrued a little bit, because now they’re saying ‘He came in, and he played everything they asked him to, for free. Yadda, yadda, yadda,’ ” Misch said. “I didn’t ask for any money, but they did pay me. Don’t let anybody tell you that I didn’t.”


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With Michigan State's Jon Misch, expect the unexpected

EAST LANSING — Jon Misch is not quite what you’d expect.

Think about Big Ten linebackers, and you’re probably picturing a wild man like Dick Butkus or Chris Spielman, or a physical specimen like LaVar Arrington or even Misch’s current Michigan State teammate, Greg Jones.

Not someone who probably had to slip the sports information staff $5 to generously list him at 207 pounds on the roster.

And certainly not someone seated at a piano bench.

Shoot, quarterbacks around here can’t even get away with playing the piano without having their toughness questioned.

Some things aren’t quite what they appear, though, and Misch is perfect proof of that.

Told he’d never get anywhere with football, the Waterford native and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s grad did the unexpected and earned himself a Division I scholarship. Afraid to even practice when he got to MSU, he did the unexpected, and not only lasted until his fifth year, but made himself into a rotation player in the deepest position on the squad, and a vocal leader, to boot.

And just when you think you’ve got him pigeonholed, Misch goes and pulls something else unexpected, like he did in the talent contest in the buildup to the 2007 Champ Sports Bowl.

At the time a redshirt freshman with a broken right foot, Misch limped on stage, unstrapped his orthopedic boot and knocked out a rendition of a Chopin melody that brought down the house.

“It was fun to be able to play for them. It was kind of funny, because as soon as I got done, every single player was like, ‘I didn’t know you played piano,’ ” remembered Misch, noting the jaws that dropped around the room. “I’m not sure if it’s the talent that I have on the piano, or the fact that they see me sitting still, and that amazes them more.”

He amazed members of his own family by sticking with football, despite a build in high school that would generously be termed “slight” as a 195-pound defensive end.

“If anybody ever tells you that you cannot do something, take it as a challenge, because my junior year of high school, my dad told me that I should stop playing football, because I wasn’t going anywhere with it,” Misch said. “I took that as a challenge. I worked as hard as I could to be able do something the next year, and now I’m playing Big Ten football, and I’m living a dream.”

Don’t think that means his Spartan career started out with a bang. It took him a while to get comfortable.

Misch redshirted in 2006, then played in all 12 regular-season games — including two starts — in 2007 before breaking his foot, which cost him that year’s bowl game, as well as the first six games of the 2008 season. Since then, he’s played in 20 straight games, starting two.

And just when he’s comfortable enough in his own role — as a backup at all three of the linebacker positions — that he can help the youngsters along, his career is beginning to wind down.

“Something my mom (Lori) has been really trying to remind me to do is always remember that this is the last season I’m ever going to have, so every summer workout, when I’d call her, and say ‘I’m exhausted. I can’t believe I’m doing this right now,’ she’d always be like, ‘Well, enjoy it, because it’s the last one that you’ve got,’ ” Misch said. “I look back at the past two years that I’ve been here and I remember coming in as a freshman, and being so scared to even go out and practice that I’d be like hiding behind people. Now, I’m just dying to get out there and practice as much as I can.”

As one of the unit’s vocal leaders, the once-shy Misch has no problem taking one of the younger linebackers aside during practices, to explain an assignment, or help instill the proper work ethic.

“We have a good mix of seniors in the linebacker room, because Greg Jones leads by example. People can watch Greg and say, ‘OK, I want to do it like that.’ And then Jon Misch and Eric Gordon are guys who are willing to say, ‘Hey, we’re going in to watch more film.’ ‘Hey, we’re going to put in extra time after practice just as linebackers,’ ” Spartan linebackers coach Mike Tressel said. “So we have a good mix here. It’s like, ‘Hey, watch the film. Look at (No.) 53 (Jones). Look at that motor, and see if you can replicate that.’ And then you also got the guys who are actually yanking them by the jerseys, and saying, ‘This is what we need to do off the field to get better.’ You hope that combination can help us.”

The Spartans have recruited increasingly well at linebacker over the past few years, and those incoming freshmen and redshirt freshmen have already impressed the coaching staff and their elder teammates.

“I’ve seen a lot of intensity, a lot of will to learn, and really athleticism across the board in our freshman class. We’ve got a lot of great players, just from watching them work out, you can tell they’re going to be amazing,” Misch said. “Not only are they ready to play, they want to play, like right now, so I think we’re going to have a lot of competition from them, and I’m really excited to be able to see what they can do.”

Those freshmen still have a long way to go to be as amazing on the field as players like the all-world Jones, but if they get there, it won’t be unexpected.

At least not in the Jon Misch sense of the term.

Matthew B. Mowery covers colleges for The Oakland Press. E-mail him at and follow him on Twitter @matthewbmowery.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Live chat from Western Michigan vs. Michigan State

Join me on Saturday, Sept. 4, as the Michigan State Spartans open the season against one of the state's three Mid-American Conference teams, the Western Michigan Broncos. Kickoff is at noon, so we'll be up and running by 11:45 a.m.

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