There are hires that are plainly part of a long-term plan, designed months ahead of time. That seems to have been the case with the combination of Brandon Jordan and Marco Coleman coming to East Lansing to manage the defensive line and push the entire program’s ceiling higher with their recruiting chops.
Then there are the Rolodex-testing hires, where the constantly shifting ground of the coaching carousel tests the depth of a head coach’s contact network when he needs to replace an assistant on the fly. That was the type of opening created when Michigan State’s former running backs coach William Peagler opted to join Billy Napier’s new staff as a tight ends coach on Christmas Eve last year.
Effrem Reed, a former standout at Louisiana, had been an offensive analyst for Mel Tucker’s first two seasons in East Lansing and had already accepted an assistant offer with Clay Helton, then assembling a staff at Georgia Southern. When Peagler’s spot opened, Tucker summoned Reed back, making the 29-year-old his youngest hire yet.
Reed was able to return to the team in time to coach from the sideline in the Peach Bowl, where he would have had a sobering look at his room after Kenneth Walker III. With Walker sitting out for draft prep/injury avoidance, MSU’s running backs managed only 53 yards on 25 carries against Pitt.
Since then, the Spartans have imported Jalen Berger and Jarek Broussard from the portal, and will also have Davion Primm available after his redshirt, but Reed’s comments have made it clear that there isn’t a one-for-one Walker replacement on the roster at the moment. Ergo, there is both a big opportunity and a big challenge for a young assistant coach to find some way to keep Michigan State’s ground game moving.