Connor Heyward - Ready To Give Spartan Fans Reason To Sleep Soundly

Connor Heyward - Ready To Give Spartan Fans Reason To Sleep Soundly

Columnists

Connor Heyward - Ready To Give Spartan Fans Reason To Sleep Soundly

Sophomore running back Connor Heyward is turning heads – and it should not surprise Spartans if Heyward becomes a meaningful part of the overall Michigan State attack.

Contact @crowleysullivan

At Big Ten Media Days a few weeks ago, I was standing around head coach Mark Dantonio as reporters asked him questions regarding Brian Lewerke, the need for more of a pass rush, the need for someone to emerge on the opposite end from Kenny Willekes, the sense of who might replace Brian Allen at center, how LJ has come back for his senior season – and I think someone asked Dantonio if he thinks it would be cool for there to be a World Cup soccer game at UMAA’s football stadium.

As I think back on it, the guy that asked Dantonio that question about the World Cup game being played at UMAA was the same guy who asked UMAA’s J. Ira and Nikki Harris Family Head Coach the same question the previous day – it was a reporter from……..Maize N Brew.

The guys at Maize N Brew are smart.

I think Dantonio said that it would be really cool for UMAA to have a World Cup soccer game at their football stadium.

As Dantonio spent five or ten minutes breaking down all of the cool parts of UMAA hosting a World Cup soccer game at their football stadium, it dawned on me – nobody had even mentioned Connor Heyward’s name up to that point.

So I asked Dantonio how Heyward was doing, how he’s looking.

Dantonio’s eyes lit up and he said, “He looks great.  He’s down to 220 pounds (from his listed weight of 228) and looking very fit, very focused, working hard, really ready to go.”

It wasn’t so much the exact words that Dantonio said – although those words were pretty good ones.

It was the way Dantonio spoke about Heyward.

Dantonio is confident and excited about Heyward – that was clear.

And last night I watched the Big Ten Network’s Bus Tour stop in East Lansing as the BTN crew spent the hour breaking down everything related to the Michigan State Spartans.

Let’s take a quick moment to suggest this –

The BTN folks – Dave Revsine, Gerry Dinardo, and Howard Griffith on campus with Rick Pizzo and Glen Mason back in the studio – are smart, knowledgable, they do their homework, and they’re fun to watch since they’re having fun doing what they’re doing.

Special props to Spartan Darien Harris for his excellent work as the East Lansing contributor during the show – he has a future in this rat race if he wants one.

But back to the point – every one of the guys on the set in East Lansing offered unprompted and glowing remarks about Connor Heyward.

Harris spoke of how versatile Heyward is.

Griffith reiterated Heyward’s versatility, talked about him being well positioned to add a lot of punch to the offense since he can do everything, and mentioned Heyward as a potential Special Teams star.

Dinardo talked about how the running back unit needs depth and productivity beyond LJ.

Dinardo’s exact words were these:

“If you’re a Michigan State fan looking for a reason to lose sleep, I think the running back unit might give you that reason to not sleep. That’s not because they don’t have talent there – but the depth there isn’t proven yet.”

That’s a fair breakdown by Dinardo.

He is, of course, speaking with the understanding that LJ Scott is ready to be the main man back there – but that LJ needs some help.

And based on the way Dantonio spoke of Heyward at Big Ten Media Days and the way the BTN guys spoke about Heyward during last night’s show, I’m ready to say that Heyward is going to be much more than a guy who gives LJ a rest every once in a while.

RJ Shelton was a four-year contributor who did a whole bunch of everything for the Spartans.

And as solid as Shelton was, he was a 5’11”, 205 pound guy who did his best with what he had.

Connor Heyward is a large, strong, fast, skilled dude who goes 6’0″, 220 pounds and can run around like he’s a scat-back.

And he catches the ball out of the backfield.

And he gained valuable experience fielding punts and kickoffs last season.

So, here’s the take –

In 2018, Connor Heyward is going to emerge as a key part of the Spartan attack.

Heyward is going to build on the contributions he made during last season’s 10-3 season.

Heyward has the comfort level with the entire system that will allow him to play faster than he did last season.

Heyward has slimmed himself down a bit, according to Dantonio, and will bring more speed and burst than anyone is expecting.

And Heyward will wind up being yet another dangerous weapon that can be used in any and all situations.

Dinardo’s comments about the running back unit giving Spartans a reason to not sleep was tongue-in-cheek – and I suspect that when the season gets going, Dinardo will gladly announce that Spartans can get back to sleeping soundly since the running back unit will have been become even more powerful and dangerous with Connor Heyward.

Latest

More SpartansWire
Home