For those interested, I have a series covering all 135 FBS spring games, which you can find here. For a sample of what these articles cover, I have provided below coverage from Michigan State, Indiana, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M’s spring games. The information provided below is sourced from a variety of beat reports organized into one succinct article for your reading.


MICHIGAN STATE

Quarterbacks

The Chiles era started off about as good as it could have.

He took the snap from the familiar hands of center Tanner Miller, another Oregon State transfer, and delivered a play-action fake to running back Nate Carter that froze the defense for a split second. It gave Chiles enough time to deliver a rope of a throw to senior wideout Montorie Foster on a slant that went for 22 yards.  

It was not as easy for Chiles on the second possession, a three-and-out with a blown-up run play for a 3-yard loss and two throws that missed their targets, wide of Foster and then over the head of Jaron Glover on third-and-13. But Chiles made up for it on a hurry-up drive before the end of the first half, moving the offense 80 yards in a little over a minute. It included a pinpoint deep ball down the right sideline for 35 yards to Foster, who got away with a push-off on cornerback Chance Rucker to make the catch. Then Chiles dropped a feathery-touch toss to Carter on a wheel route over linebacker Wayne Matthews III for a 17-yard score.

Chiles finished 7-for-14 for 106 yards with the TD.

“I thought he threw it accurately and moved his feet well,” Smith said of Chiles. “I think it helped that he got a little bit of run game going, Nate had a nice carry. … He looked comfortable and guys made some plays for him in the pass game, which was great to see.”

North Dakota transfer Tommy Schuster also looked poised, polished and efficient running Smith’s offense with the second unit, completing his first six passes in three possessions for 135 yards. That included a 75-yard deep ball to Nick Marsh on the first play of the second half which was a bit underthrown and knocked down by the wind, but the freshman receiver adjusted to it and ran away from two defenders for the final 40-plus yards.

Running Backs

On the next play, [Nathan] Carter raced 48 yards through a gaping hole in the middle of the defense for a touchdown.

Carter’s speed on the second-play touchdown run was a refreshing sight for a team starving for production from a run game that posted the worst season in school history last year. The senior also showed he can be a weapon in the downfield passing attack, something he hopes will lead to a big season.

Courtesy of Lansing State Journal

“I just love how this offense helps me to explore more of my abilities,” said Carter, who had three carries for 49 yards and two catches for 26 yards. “I’m very versatile, not only running the ball but also me affecting the passing game and multiple areas of the offense. The fact that coach Smith brought offense in here that’s a pro-style offense helps me to improve my game, which I think will not only let me but also this offense in general and the team and be stronger.”

Behind him, freshman Brandon Tullis — who had been committed to play for Smith at Oregon State — got the second-team reps and ran hard through contact and showed burst on a 16-yard run in the third quarter behind the first-team offensive line. Tullis had 48 yards on six carries, including a 15-yarder on his first touch.

Jalen Berger had an 11-yard run with a fumble out of bounds at the end on his first possession with the third-team offense, but he scored from 2 yards out with the second unit after a 6-yard plow of a run to set it up. Grad transfer Jaren Mangham did not play after going through positional drill work before the scrimmage. Davion Primm had one catch for minus-1 yard

Wide Receivers

[Nick] Marsh’s big day with the second unit is one thing Smith might have wanted to keep under wraps, but the talent was clear. The 6-foot-3, 208-pound early enrollee from River Rouge had two catches for 88 yards, dragging defenders on his 13-yard catch on an over-the-middle route in the first half. Both came from Schuster.

“He’s young, he’s a baller. And he draws a lot of his talent and everything,” Chiles said of Marsh. “It helps a lot. I did the same thing my freshman year, I thrived off of what I could do talent-wise and athletically.”

[Montorie] Foster showed the best connection with Chiles. The senior had three catches for 81 yards, with Foster’s third grab on a laser from the quarterback on a slant pattern that split two defenders and went for 24 yards.

Glover and redshirt freshman Aziah Johnson worked predominantly with the first-team offense along with Foster and Chiles. Marsh, senior Alante Brown and redshirt freshman Jaelen Smith took second-team reps with Schuster.

Tight Ends

Jack Velling, expected to be the starting tight end after arriving from Oregon State, had one catch for no yards and got blasted by safety Dillon Tatum on a deep ball that resulted in a penalty. Michael Masunas and Ademola Faleye each had a catch with the second unit.

INDIANA

Quarterbacks

Ohio transfer Kurtis Rourke led the first-team offense onto the field to start Thursday’s game.

After some early misses, Rourke finished the night strong, leading Indiana on a touchdown drive that proved to be the game-winner. He excelled mostly at short passes, completing eight for seven yards or fewer on the final drive, including a 3-yard touchdown pass to Andison Coby in the corner. But Rourke also hit James Madison transfer Elijah Sarratt on two passes of 11 and 15 yards, showing some longer-distance accuracy.

Courtesy of Hoosier Huddle

Unofficially, Rourke finished the night completing 21-of-33 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Cignetti thought Rourke was the victim of a couple dropped passes that could have kept drives alive.

All signs throughout spring camp from Cignetti have pointed towards Rourke being the starter come Aug. 31.

Returning redshirt sophomore Tayven Jackson played with the second-team offense, and he had an accurate night. Jackson went 7-for-7 on his first drive, highlighted by a 39-yard completion to Coby and an 11-yard touchdown pass to Donaven McCulley across the middle. A 64-yard completion from Jackson to Coby set up Wake Forest running back transfer Justice Ellison for a two-yard touchdown on Jackson’s next drive.

Jackson finished the night completing 11-of-14 pass attempts for 170 yds, one touchdown and one interception. 

Running Backs

The Hoosiers’ new running backs stood out to Cignetti, displaying a dynamic style of play excelling at pass protection, catching the ball and breaking tackles. Both running backs Justice Ellison and Ty Son Lawton — transfer additions from Wake Forest University and James Madison University, respectively — scored a touchdown. 

Wide Receivers

Indiana returned leading receiver Donaven McCulley from last season, and Cignetti reinforced that group with transfers Elijah Sarratt (James Madison), Myles Price (Texas Tech), Miles Cross (Ohio) and Ke’Shawn Williams (Wake Forest). But it was returning senior Andison Coby who led the Hoosiers with 114 receiving yards and a touchdown on Thursday.

Cignetti said earlier in the spring that McCulley “needs to pick it up a bit,” but he’s seen him respond since then. Jackson smartly threw the ball high to McCulley in the end zone, where only he could get it, and it led to a touchdown.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Quarterbacks

The most significant question mark coming into the day was the quarterback position, as transfer Blake Shapen would take first-team reps. The former Baylor quarterback has vast experience, but how would he fit into a new offense? 

Shapen dazzled yesterday as he finished his day 18-22, 312 yards, and three touchdowns. During spring practice, the word was the Louisiana native threw a nice deep ball, and he showcased that by throwing two bombs to Kelly Akharaiyi and Kevin Coleman. 

Chris Parson took second-team reps and looked impressive. The sophomore added some weight and showed great poise in the pocket and plenty of arm talent. 

Wide Receivers

The Lebby offense emphasizes big plays and shots down the field, and to perfect that scheme, having dynamic receivers is a must. Akharaiyi, a transfer receiver from UTEP, looked like the best player on the field in the first half by making catches in traffic and constantly getting separation. 

Coleman, a transfer from Louisville, also made several big plays and was a presence over the middle. Freshman Mario Craver looked like a future superstar today; his speed is apparent, but his route-running is the most impressive part of his game. 

The Bulldogs lost a lot of production from their receiver room a season ago, but they have replaced those guys nicely. 

Freshman WR Mario Craver

Mississippi State was without sophomore receiver Creed Whittemore who was moving around on a scooter with his right ankle taped up. Filling his role in the slot on the first-team offense was freshman Mario Craver.

He’s part of an exciting 2024 class of receivers, though he was a late addition. Craver didn’t commit until Dec. 10 after Lebby was hired to replace Zach Arnett. He finished as the highest rated prospect in the class, coming in as a four-star, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

He was among the top targets for Shapen. On the game’s opening drive, the two nearly connected on deep touchdown attempt. In the second quarter, Shapen completed a 15-yard pass to Craver for a first down before finding him on a screen on the ensuing play.

To open the second half, sophomore quarterback Chris Parson connected on a 60-yard pass to Craver for a touchdown.

TE Justin Ball

In part due to the late Mike Leach not utilizing a tight end and last year’s offense being among the SEC’s worst, the Bulldogs haven’t had a tight end catch a touchdown since 2020.

Courtesy of the Clarion Ledger

That’ll likely change under Lebby.

Ball, a transfer tight end who spent the last five years at Vanderbilt, caught a pair of touchdown passes in the first half – including a 22-yard reception just before the break.

TEXAS A&M

A New Look Offense

Following an up-and-down offensive season that saw the Aggies score 33.3 points per game, Klein was hired as part of the complete rebuild of the coaching staff. The former Kansas State playcaller brings a diverse playbook with cutting-edge flourishes to the table.

The majority of the running concepts shown on Kyle Field were pin-and-pull based. The interior of the offensive line was often tasked to get on the move and work its way into the second level of the defense to spring runners for large gains, including sophomore RB Rueben Owens’ 61-yard gallop for a score.

Many of the offenses’ rushing and passing production came off of run-pass options. Klein gave his quarterbacks the freedom to toss the pigskin if the defensive look favored the pass or to hand the ball off to a running back if the box was lighter.

Quarterbacks

Junior quarterback Conner Weigman is the team’s presumed starter and battled through sheets of rain to complete 4-of-14 passes for 47 yards for White. While the statline seems rough, Weigman showcased anticipation and arm talent to throw a 29-yard glance route to junior wide receiver Cyrus Allen and had several other catchable passes fall incomplete.

The Maroon team’s signal callers freshman Marcel Reed and junior Jaylen Henderson went a combined 18-of-27 with 184 yards and two touchdowns en route to scoring 24 points.

Running Backs

Courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics

Le’Veon Moss looks like the workhorse: Texas A&M ran the ball 53 times in the spring game – Moss ran it 13 times, which was seven more than any other player. Moss finished with 69 yards and a touchdown. He was running behind most of the expected first-team offensive line while Reuben Owens and Amari Daniels played for the White team. Owens did show his big-play ability late in the game with a 61-yard touchdown run. 

Wide Receivers

Maroon and White stalwart senior Moose Muhammad III will be key in keeping continuity among the receiving corps. The aforementioned Allen transferred from Louisiana Tech to help bolster the room as well as provide special teams play.

Junior Noah Thomas stole the show for A&M with seven catches for 82 yards and made the highlight of the day, reeling in a Henderson touchdown pass while diving to the ground. The 6-foot-6 pass catcher has the frame to play on the outside, and A&M will hope that the Maroon & White game was a sign of things to come.

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