Dion Sims has not yet had the chance to prove himself at Michigan State. One of the best tight ends in the national recruiting class of 2009, the 6-foot-5, 285-pound junior has been sidelined most of his career due to off-the-field issues and injuries.
Now that he is finally healthy, and has hopefully learned from his past mistakes, Sims may be the most powerful weapon on the Spartans’ offense next to junior running back Le’Veon Bell.
“Dion Sims is unreal,” senior offensive tackle Fou Fonoti said Monday at Spartan Stadium. “There’s not many guys you can find of the stature, that lean and mean. He’s gonna be one of our ultimate weapons.”
During Michigan State’s second jersey scrimmage of preseason camp on Saturday, Aug. 18, at Spartan Stadium, Sims caught 10 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown.
“I just use my body frame,” Sims said. “Once I catch it and turn it and go I have a tendency to fall maybe two or three yards forward. I think (the scrimmage) gave me a lot of confidence, I’m definitely ready.”
Having arrived together in 2009, junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell is well aware of what Sims is capable of doing for this team.
“With his speed he can kind of take the top off a defense,” said Maxwell, “we can use him as a vertical threat and get it to him down the field or we can just throw him a little stick or a hitch route and he can catch it and make guys miss and run people over and make yards after the catch there.”
“And on top of that he’s a great blocker. If he can stay healthy this year, which we expect him to do, we can do a lot of things with him and he’ll be a great asset to our offense.”
Maxwell noted that Sims will be a primary target when the Spartans are in the redzone.
“He gives you a big target, you can work the back of the endzone and he can body up a guy and go up and get it,” Maxwell added.
And Sims isn’t easy to bring down, according to junior free safety Jairus Jones.
“It’s rough, 280 pounds that can run, it’s kinda tough to bring him down,” Jones said. “You gotta bring him down somehow. He made a lot of plays, he got one on me. He’s just big so there’s nothing really I could do about it.”
Jones, who was recently moved to the top of the depth chart at the free safety position, says he thinks he is still penciled in at that spot after the scrimmage.
“I think so, as of yesterday, yeah,” Jones said. “At practice today we’ll see. Just to have the opportunity to be mentioned as a starter, it feels good. My motivation is I wanna play. I just wanna get some playing time.”
“I’m not really surprised because I’ve been praying for it. I just wanted the opportunity to be able to compete for that spot.”
At a position where communication and leadership is a necessity, Jones feels that he is the right man for the spot.
“Naturally, I’m a big communicator on the field,” Jones said.
Battling with Jones for the spot is sophomore Kurtis Drummond, red-shirt freshman R.J. Williamson, and true freshman Demetrious Cox. Jones said that there is not much separation between those four players.
“We can all play at a high level,” said Jones, who started getting reps with the first group at the end of the first week of camp.
“I feel like even with me, Kurtis, or Roger, that we’ll still have the best secondary in the nation,” Jones added.
Jones also mentioned that Drummond and Cox played with the first group in the second jersey scrimmage as well. He added that he is still with the second group in the nickel package at the STAR position.
Even though Jones is listed as the starter right now, there probably won’t be a clear starter until someone makes plays in game.
The team captains will be announced on Thursday, Dantonio said.
Lawrence Thomas back from concussion:
After a concussion kept the 6-foot-3, 287-pound defensive end out of the scrimmage on Saturday, Lawrence Thomas has been cleared to practice.
After being one of the top linebacker recruits nationally in 2011, Thomas sat out last season due to having surgery on his shoulder.
Thomas, now a red-shirt freshman, made the switch to defensive end and is currently on the third string behind William Gholston and Joel Heath. He did say that he is the nose tackle on the second group of the nickel package.
Latest news on former Spartan punter Aaron Bates:
Aaron Bates, a former Spartan punter (2007-10), is currently a graduate assistant in the weight room for the Michigan State football team. Bates has two semesters left before earning his master’s degree in educational administration.
And he currently lives in Andrew Maxwell’s living room. Fortunately, there is a bed in the living room for Bates to sleep on.
“It’s quite the set-up,” Maxwell said.