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Friday, August 10, 2012

VIDEO: Dantonio Has Turned No-Names to Stars - 2012 Big Hit "Bennie and the Jets"

I have been following a frequent reader comment contributor on M-Live articles related to Spartans sports. He goes by ATownAndDown His posts are well thought out and informative. He has a way of connecting the dots. It's like he has inside info - it's just he has commend of past facts.

Developing the MSU receiver corps, to me is the most compelling story of fall camp so I'll be sharing stories with you here. This one, I'll start with an exchange between ATown and the article author, Graham Couch and then the story on Bennie Fowler.

God I hope this guy can stay healthy. I had to double check this spring to make sure he wasn't a senior. Despite being injured he just seemed to assert himself as a leader the entire time. He and Norman seemed to take the same role but Norman is a senior.

If he can stay healthy and combine that leadership with his talent, the sky is the limit. Look at what BJ did last year and his knock was he didn't have enough speed. So what could he have done if he had enough speed. I think we might be able to find out with Fowler.

Its all about health. That foot has to hold up.

Graham Couch |
In some ways, though to a lesser degree in terms of injury, Fowler reminds me of a wideout I covered the last six seasons at WMU, Jordan White. White struggled with knee injuries for four years and then had two brilliant seasons, breaking every school record and catching a 140 passes for nearly 2,000 yards as a senior. Whether Fowler ever becomes that caliber of player remains to be seen, but they're of similar build and mindset. But Fowler needs a healthy season. I know he said he doesn't think about his foot. That's difficult to believe.


You are right that it is difficult to believe. He hasn't really had to push the foot for a long period of time or had enough time forget about it. I am a runner and about ten years ago I sprained my ankle. It seemed like I felt twinges or thought it was swollen for months after it healed. I was paranoid that I would aggravate it and be laid up again. Now I understand that my running and ankle don't compare to Fowler and his foot but I think the mentality is the same. Fowler does not want to miss another game let alone an extended period of time because of that foot. And I would guarantee that the first time he goes to break and gets that foot tangled with the DB, he is going to have a moment of panic.

I hope that Fowler comes out and is able to finish out his career like White did. I don't know if I would expect those kinds of numbers but to just be healthy and productive. Once he gets going and has really had an opportunity to test out the foot and push it, that is when he will start to forget about it.

Foot injury behind him, Michigan State wideout Bennie Fowler intends to be Spartans' go-to guy
Published: Thursday, August 09, 2012, 10:30 AM     Updated: Thursday, August 09, 2012, 10:42 AM
Graham Couch | 
Michigan State football practice: Aug. 6View full sizeMichigan State junior wide receiver Bennie Fowler is considered the likely go-to receiver this season for the Spartans, despite just 16 career catches.
EAST LANSING — Bennie Fowler has heard the rumblings from folks who believe he didn't actually play in Michigan State's spring game, that instead, a teammate checked in wearing his number.

It didn't help that afterward, coach Mark Dantonio didn't remember seeing the junior wideout play in the game.

"Yeah, that was me," Fowler insisted this week. "Some people were wondering if that was me. But yeah, that was me."

As to why he tapped his position coach, Terrence Samuel, on the shoulder and asked to play — less than four months after postseason surgery in which screws were inserted into his broken left foot — Fowler says it was an important moment in asserting himself as a willing leader and playmaker among a receiving corps short on players proven on either front.

"I just wanted to show the coaches that I'm ready, that I don't want to shy away, that I'm not scared of playing in the limelight," Fowler said. "I wanted to show the coaches that I'm ready to go and do big things."

That's exactly what Fowler intends to do this season, his foot now completely healed after feeling around "80 percent" during the spring.

Michigan State football practice: Aug. 6
EnlargeMichigan State's Denicos Allen, right, is tackled by fellow linebacker Taiwan Jones at practice Monday. (Josh Slagter | State football practice: Aug. 6 gallery (25 photos)
"I'm not thinking about the foot at all right now," Fowler said this week. "I'm 100 percent. I got my last X-rays in June, showed that I'm a 100 percent healed and I'm ready to go."

His coaches and teammates are believers, despite his modest 16 career catches and history with that foot. No wideout has been raved about more to this point this summer than the 6-foot-1, 218-pound fourth-year player out of Bloomfield.

"He's finally healthy, he's running as fast as I've ever seen him," said classmate and quarterback Andrew Maxwell, choosing to talk about Fowler when asked if there was one player who stood out to him early in fall camp. "He's leaning down, where he's not small but he's not carrying as much wait, so he's a little faster, a little more explosive, a little shiftier in his moves."

"It's a different Bennie," Samuel added.

"I had a conversation with him a long time ago. I said, 'You have the intelligence, you have the size and the speed ... and he wants to be a leader. That's why he's asking B.J. (Cunningham) all these questions. He wants to take this No. 1 wide receiver thing to being a leader, as well.

"And if he does that, he could be as good as anybody. He's got the skill set."

Fowler's constant quizzing of Cunningham, Michigan State's leading receiver last year (and in program history) comes out of an understanding of circumstance.

Fowler may only have 16 catches, but that's a dozen more than any other Michigan State receiver has as a Spartan (DeAnthony Arnett's 24 last season were at Tennessee).

Michigan State football practice: Aug. 6Michigan State wide receiver Bennie Fowler warms up before practice Monday. Fowler talks to former teammate B.J. Cunningham on a regular basis about what it takes to be a No. 1 wideout.
"(Cunningham is) somebody I talk to every other day — how did he approach his senior season?" Fowler said. "Because I'm looking at this as approaching my senior season, because I have to be the leader for this group.

"What I've learned from B.J. is you've got to be there when the quarterback needs you, no matter what — third down, you've always got to be able to make that big play. That starts here in practice every day, getting a rapport with Maxwell and the other receivers and just being that leader for the team."

That rapport with Maxwell, by all accounts, already exists, a product of years together, first on the scout team, then the second unit and now as Michigan State's likely go-to connection.

"He knows what I'm thinking and I know what he's thinking," Fowler said.

"I think we're going to make big, explosive plays," Fowler continued, speaking about the Spartans' unproven passing attack. "We're just going to have to prove it to the defenses Aug. 31 vs. Boise. We go against one of the best defenses in the country every single day. We're going to be prepared.

"I've been waiting for this a long time."

Email Graham Couch at and follow him on Twitter at
© 2012 All rights reserved.

Dantonio and staff have delivered "no-names" to studs in a single season multiple times, including Devon Thomas. I suspect we will see that again this year, with two at receiver and it appears Bennie and his jets could lead the way. @DUMPthechUMps

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