Imagine you're in 6th grade again, playing a tackle football game on the playground. Your team is riding the 5'4'' kid, the one with facial hair already coming in, to a commanding victory until out of nowhere, big kid goes down in a heap and doesn't get up. As the playground attendant helps the now crying monster to the nurse's office, you look around at your ruddy teammates and think: "Who gets the ball now?"
That's how I feel when I review the Michigan State Spartans backfield. Javon Ringer carried the ball 390 times last year and with that workhorse gone to the NFL, it remains to be seen who will pick up the slack. With help from my friends at Spartans Weblog (the soon to be SBN Spartans Weblog - the Red Cedar on SBN!), we break down the halfback position for Mark Dantonio's 2009 squad.
Spartan Weblog contributors
GZEL = Ground Zero East Lansing
SHS = Stevehendershot
PDW = Patrick D Walters
LVS = LVS
Running Backs...By Committee. The point to re-emphasize is that MSU isn't losing part or even most of its running game -- it's losing its entire running game in the wake of Javon Ringer. To ascribe statistics and even height and weight measurements to Andre Anderson, Ashton Leggett and A.J.Jimmerson in an optimistic fashion is frankly a kindness. (PDW)
Andre Anderson, RB, 5'9'' 190 lbs, Sophomore Eligibility
A redshirt sophomore, he looks to be the extremely slight front runner so far. He averaged just under 4 yards a carry in 2008, and would likely be the starter if the position came down to pure rushing ability, but at 5-9 and 186, blocking ability is a concern. (GZEL)
Ashton Leggett, RB, 5'11'' 235 lbs, Sophomore Eligibility
Another redshirt sophomore, might get the nod. He's 5-11 and 228, and is the only player returning who scored a rushing touchdown last season, but had 7 net yards on 6 carries. (GZEL)
A.J. Jimmerson, RB, 5'10'' 205 lbs, Senior Eligibility
Jimmerson didn't fumble at all, but was given the ball just six times in 2008...as a redshirted junior. (PDW)
Glenn Winston, RB, 6'2'' 218 lbs, Sophomore Eligibility
On April 29, we find out Glenn Winston's sentence on charges brought up for misdemeanor aggravated assault and misdemeanor assault and battery that were levied after he allegedly -- Ha! -- broke the head of Michgan State hockey player A.J. Sturges at a fall house party. He's already pled guilty, he's already been suspended indefinitely from the team -- missing on the depth chart and thus missing spring ball -- and presumed persona non grata.
But here's the rub: He's 6-foot-2, fast, and heavier than any of the three listed above. He's off the radar because he's a "bad person" -- and he might be -- but the stark and perhaps unfortunate reality is that he's not going to serve time for a misdemeanor, and that he'll be a factor come fall.
Underlying kernel of unpleasant truth: Persona non grata Glenn Winston might be the most athletic back MSU has. (PDW)
Edwin Baker, RB, 5'10'' 195 lbs, Freshman
I'm betting Edwin Baker is the starting RB. He's the #5 RB in the nation according to Rivals, and the #41 player overall. (SHS)
Baker racked up 1,295 yards in 6 high school games last year before ending his season with a strained ligament in his left knee. (GZEL)
Larry Caper, RB, 5'11'' 215 lbs, Freshman
Caper rushed for over 3,000 yards in high school and has good size at 5'11", 205 lbs. (GZEL)