A handful of freshman could play key roles for the Spartans in 2019
The 2018 Michigan State football season was largely a disappointment for everyone with a vested interest in the Spartans. A 7-6 record capped off ironically by a 7-6 bowl game loss was far short of the expectations some people — including myself — had for head coach Mark Dantonio's squad.
As the page turns to 2019, there will be opportunities for some newcomers to make big impacts for Michigan State. Dantonio is all about putting the best 22 players on the field, and a number of signees from the 2019 recruiting class could very well fall into that category by the end of the season.
Here is a list of five newcomers that need to be followed both throughout the spring and heading into fall camp.
Spencer Brown, OT
Brown is an almost fully-developed tackle who enrolled early. He's a three-star, but the jump he'll get in the weight room and when it comes to learning the playbook are going to go a long way in him potentially developing into a regular contributor to the offensive line rotation right away. The Spartans lose just one starter up front from 2018, but it's not like the unit blew the doors off anyone. There will be playing time available, and Brown could get plenty of it.
Devontae Dobbs, G
Dobbs looks like an NFL-ready guard (6-4, 304) and could start somewhere on the offensive line right away. He was the top-rated guard in the nation and the No. 51 recruit nationally according to 247Sports. As mentioned earlier, the Spartans have room for new blood and a new attitude in the trenches, and Dobbs could be a mainstay for Michigan State for the next three years.
Tre Mosley, WR
The Michigan State offense lacked consistent playmakers all season. Just as is the case with the offensive line, there are plenty of available reps at the skill positions for anyone who shows that they are ready to contribute and help take this offense to the next level. Mosley is a shifty receiver with plenty of speed. He can take the top off deep or pile up yards after the catch. Look for the coaching staff to get him the ball early, even if it's just as a returner on special teams.
Brandon Wright, RB
If you closed your eyes and tried to picture the prototypical Michigan State running back, you'd likely be looking at something very similar to the physical frame of Wright. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, he's a running back in a linebacker's body. There will always be room for players like him in the Spartans' offense — and with the departure of LJ Scott — that's even more the case in 2019.
Julian Barnett, CB
Barnett is one of the top cornerback recruits in the country and he has the look of the next great Spartan defensive back. At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, he's built like an upperclassman. He can cover shifty receivers just as easy as pass-catching tight ends, and his size and tackling ability make him an asset against the run. With the departure of Justin Layne leaving a sizeable void in the secondary, Barnett should compete for a starting job in 2019, earning plenty of reps at the very least.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! SBNation and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.