EAST LANSING - In no surprise, All-America candidate William Gholston was the first player taken on Wednesday in the annual underclassman draft for Saturday's Green-White Game.
Coaches split up the team's seniors on Tuesday evening. Those dueling groups of seniors went back and forth in an interesting and energized selection process at the Clara Bell Smith Center.
The Green team, which will be coached this year by running backs coach Brad Salem, earned the right to pick first when Green player spokesperson Dan Conroy defeated White player spokesperson Chris Norman in rock paper scissors.
"I got into Chris's head and went rock twice in a row," Conroy said. "And that got us Gholston."
Picking Gholston opened up defensive end drafting. From that point on, the two teams went back and forth selecting underclass d-ends until they were all gone.
It didn't take long for one of the most surprising picks of the day to take place. After the White team selected Gholston's first-string defensive end tag team partner Marcus Rush with the second pick of the defensive end round, the White team went with third-string junior Jeremy Gainer as the No. 3 defensive end taken. The White selected Gainer ahead of second-stringers Joel Heath and Shilique Calhoun.
When Gainer was selected, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio - who presided over the draft as commissioner - commented "a surprise already."
"I think that was based largely on Gainer's experience," said Norman, commenting for the other team.
"I relied on some of the defensive guys on my team, guys like Anthony Rashad White and some of our offensive linemen who practice against them like Chris McDonald and they said Gainer has been doing well, so we went with him," Conroy said.
Allen, Langford Interesting Picks
As for other picks which went against the current depth chart, redshirt freshman offensive guard Jack Allen, junior walk-on linebacker Kyler Elsworth, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Matt Ramondo and sophomore wide receiver Jeremy Langford were selected ahead of players that are listed higher than them on the depth chart.
Allen was the No. 2 player selected in the Centers/Guards round. Allen is a second-string left guard behind junior Blake Treadwell. But Allen went ahead of Treadwell in the draft.
Treadwell went No. 3 in the Guards/Centers round. Starting center Travis Jackson was the first player taken in the Guards/Centers round.
Jackson was selected by the Green team, which already had Ethan Ruhland as a designated senior. Ruhland has been repping as the second-string center most of the spring. Allen can play guard or center. With Ruhland and Jackson on the Green, the White team needed a center and went with Allen.
Interesting WRs Selections
With no seniors on the roster at wide receiver, and several WRs out or dinged up with injuries, the selection of wide outs promised to be an interesting one, and it was.
Redshirt freshman Andre Sims Jr. was the first WR selected, going as the first pick in the 12th round for the White team.
"He's a guy who has the least amount of drops over the course of the entire spring, so it's really not a surprise," said wide receivers coach Terry Samuel, who is serving as head coach of the White team.
Samuel and senior cornerback Johnny Adams, who covers wide receivers every day in practice, were the brain trust behind making Sims the first player taken at his position.
"We need a scorer and he's been scoring," Norman said.
Also noteworthy, sophomore Jeremy Langford was the second WR selected, ahead of sophomores DeAnthony Arnett and Keith Mumphrey.
Langford played cornerback last fall, and began this spring at tailback, but moved to wide out after the first week and a half of spring. He has made a quick, steady rise at the position.
Mumphrey, a first-stringer on the depth chart, has been bothered by a knee injury in the last two weeks. His availability might be lessened.
As for Arnett, a transfer from Tennessee, Samuel and Adams were happy to take him with the third pick of the WR round.
"DeAnthony is still learning the system, but he is doing well," Samuel said.
Former defensive back Dana Dixon was selected as the No. 4 WR, ahead of walk-ons John Jakubic and A.J. Troup. Scholarship freshman Juwan Caesar who was activated for contact play midway through the spring after being out most of the fall and early spring with injuries, was the eighth WR taken. True freshman Kyle Kerrick, who enrolled at MSU in January as a early-arriving member of the 2012 recruiting class, went No. 9
Elsworth Selected Ahead of Harris, Jones
Walk-on Kyler Elsworth )6-1, 225, Jr., Goodrich, Mich.) was selected ahead of Darien Harris and Taiwan Jones in the outside linebackers round. Harris and Jones have been battling for interim first-string status at 'Star' linebacker this spring, in Norman's absence. Norman is sitting out contact drills this spring after recovering from shoulder surgery.
But a closer look at circumstances reveals that the Green team had to take Elsworth.
The White team already had second-string Sam linebacker Mike Gardiner on its squad as a designated senior. Gardiner can play Sam or Mike linebacker.
When the White team made junior Denicos Allen the first selection of round 6 in the outside linebackers category, that put Allen and Gardner on the same team. The only other Sam linebackers available were Elsworth and redshirt freshman Ed Davis. As promising as Harris and Jones have looked, neither has gotten any reps at the Sam. So Elsworth was the logical pick.
"Kyler is a play-maker," Norman said.
Elsworth had a role in the goal line defense a year ago and played extensively in the loss to Nebraska when Norman was not available due to injury.
Harris was selected ahead of Jones, going to the White team. Jones began the spring as the first-string 'Star' in Norman's absence. Harris has edged in front of Jones, marking the only change in the starting 22 this spring.
Kittredge First DT Taken
Vanderbilt transfer James Kittredge was the first defensive tackle selected, going with the first pick of the ninth round. Seniors Anthony Rashad White and Tyler Hoover are the first-string DTs on the depth chart. White and Hoover were split up on separate teams for this event.
Most interestingly in the defensive tackle round is the fact that Micajah Reynolds, who has been a member of the playing group at defensive tackle in the past and was a promising left guard on the offensive line in 2010, was fourth defensive tackle drafted on Wednesday. Reynolds (6-5, 320, Lansing Sexton) was selected behind Kittredge, redshirt freshmen Brandon Clemons and Matt Ramondo.
Cook Will Play For Both
With first-string QB Andrew Maxwell out with a sprained knee, second-string QB Connor Cook will split time with both teams. The No. 2 QB active QB, walk-on Peter Badonivac, was designated for the White team. It remains to be seen whether Badonivac will also see time with the Green team, of if this means that Cook will see a little more action with the Green than the White due to Badonivac's presence with the White team.
Complete Draft Order
First Round: Defensive Ends
Green: William Gholston
White: Marcus Rush
G: Jeremy Gainer
W: Joel Heath
G: Shilique Calhoun
Second Round: Mike Linebackers
W: Max Bullough
G: TyQuan Hammock
Third Round: Centers, Guards
G: Travis Jackson
W: Jack Allen
G: Blake Treadwell
W: Connor Kruse
G: Donavon Clark
W: Nate Klatt
G: Kyle Lints
(Chris McDonald and Ethan Ruhland will play for Green; Arthur Ray Jr. will play for White.)
Fourth Round: Offensive Tackles
W: Dan France
G: Skyler Burkland
W: Henry Conway
G: Michael Dennis
(Fou Fonoti will play for White).
Fifth Round: Tight Ends
W: Dion Sims
G: Andrew Gleichert
W: Denzel Drone
Sixth Round: Outside linebackers
G: Denicos Allen
W: Kyler Elsworth
G: Darien Harris
W: Taiwan Jones
G: Ed Davis
W: Danny Folino
(Steve Gardiner will play for White).
Seventh Round: Cornerbacks
W: Trae Waynes
G: Mylan Hicks
W: Arjen Colquhoun
(Johnny Adams will play for the White; Mitchell White will play for the Green)
Eighth Round: Safeties
G: Isaiah Lewis
W: Kurtis Drummond
G: R.J. Williamson
W: Jairus Jones
Ninth Round: Defensive Tackles
G: James Kittredge
W: Brandon Clemons
G: Matt Ramondo
W: Micajah Reynolds
(Tyler Hoover will play for White; Anthony Rashad White will play for Green)
10th Round: Fullbacks:
W: Niko Palazeti
G: Trevon Pendleton
(Jeff Bobek is a designated senior with the Green)
11th Round: Tailbacks
G: Le'Veon Bell
W: Nick Hill
(Larry Caper will play for White).
12th Round: Wide Receivers
W: A.J. Sims
G: Jeremy Langford
W: DeAnthony Arnett
G: Keith Mumphrey
W: Dana Dixon
G: John Jakubik
W: A.J. Troup
G: Juwan Caesar
W: Kyle Kerrick
G: Jordan Benton
13th Round: Kickers/Punters
G: Mike Sadler
W: Kevin Muma
(Dan Conroy is designated senior for the Green)
14th Round: Long Snappers
W: Matt Giampapa
G: Steve Moore
DT Tyler Hoover
LB Steve Gardiner
CB Johnny Adams
QB Peter Badonivac
RB Larry Caper
OG Arthur Ray Jr.
OT Fou Fonoti
DT Anthony Rashad White
OG Chris McDonald
CB Mitchell White
C/OG Ethan Ruhland
FB Jeff Bobek
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