EAST LANSING - One of the stronger units on the gridiron for the Spartans this fall should be the offensive line. With 4 returning starters, the trench experience that Michigan State brings into the 2007 season should be a valuable asset.
Fifth-year senior Mike Gytevai (6-7, 307), one of those returning starters, anchors the line at left tackle. He has been recovering from shoulder surgery, but should be ready come September.
Next to him, Pete Clifford (6-7, 316) returns at guard, a fifth-year senior as well. If Gytevai can not play, Clifford could move into the left tackle slot.
At center will most likely be John Masters (6-4, 285, Sr.), the relative newcomer to the starting five, although he did start a few games at the end of last year.
On the right side, big Roland Martin (6-5, 325, Jr.) will start at guard, where he started all 12 games last season.
Finally, Jesse Miller (6-6, 307, Jr.), who started all 12 games last season as well, returns at right tackle.
Kenny Shane (6-5, 325, Sr.) and Rocco Cironi (6-6, 300, So.) should find playing time if injuries take a toll.
Tight End Kellen Davis (6-6, 254, Sr.), the probable starter, will also be an important piece in the running game in Offensive Coordinator Don Treadwell’s offense.
Depth should not be a major issue for this group, even without highly regarded incoming Freshman Arthur Ray, Jr. (6-3, 294), who was recently diagnosed with cancer.
Staying healthy will be a priority for the Green and White O-line. All teams suffer through injuries, but a depleted offensive line can kill a team faster than a self-inflicted slap in the face.
“We’ve got numbers and experience back on the offensive line,” head coach Mark Dantonio said in an MSU release. “There’s no question that remaining healthy up front is going to be key.”
If Gytevai returns to health in time, the running game should prosper. Although he was held out of the spring game, Gytevai comes into the season with high expectations.
In the off-season, the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL drafted Ontario native Gytevai with the third pick overall. His prospects in the NFL draft next year could rise substantially with a healthy, productive senior season.
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