July 13, 2012

Foundation 40: Klatt checks in

EAST LANSING - The latest in our summer series profiling "The Foundation 40" on the Michigan State football roster:

First, we have to counting down from No. 103 on the MSU roster to No. 85 in order to get to the actual Foundation 40.

93. Shawn Kamm: The sophomore walk-on offensive guard is a serviceable third-stringer and the No. 9-ranked walk-on in our list.

A year ago, Kamm started in the 2011 Green-White Game at offensive tackle and played the whole game with no major flaws. This year, he was a second-stringer in the spring game, saw action in the third quarter as an offensive gaurd and was solid.

Basically, Kamm (6-7, 312, Saginaw Nouvel Catholic) is a year older and a year better than in 2011, but it's hard to make headway in the depth chart as part of a crowded talent pool.

Kamm saw action in two blowouts last year against Indiana and Florida Atlantic.

He was No. 90 in the Foundation 40 last year, and is down a few slots this year, with Henry Conway and Arthur Ray having moved ahead of him.

August Outlook: scout team OL of donovan Clark, Nate Klatt, possibly John Deyo, Lints, Kamm. Kamm can play OG or OT at a pretty high level ont he scout team, and whatever true freshmen are available.

92. John Jakubik: The sophomore walk-on from Plymouth, Mich. raised eyebrows this spring by leading the Spartans in receiving in each of the two spring Jersey Scrimmages. Jakubik (6-1, 190) had 4 catches for 37 yards in the April 14 Jersey Scrimmage and 4 catches for 30 yards in the April 19 Jersey Scrimmage.

Jakubik is a slick and crafty route-runner who can turn in nifty catches in traffic. He had a good spring, and attracted a bunch of headlines. He was a good story, and the comparisons to Blair White will run rampant, but don't put him in the three-deep just yet. He could just as easily be compared to Chris D. Rucker, a third-string receiver who put up big numbers in the springs of 2010 and 2011 but never made a dent in the fall.

August Outlook: Dantonio described Jakubik as "functional" in his final spring analysis, and said Jakubik needs a good off-season and August camp to continue to prove himself.

Is Jakubik way ahead of where most walk-on wide receivers would be under normal circumstances? Yes. Ahead of preferred walk-on A.J. Troup and scholarship WR Juwan Caesar? Sure. Is he already somewhat of a success story? He's getting there. But let's not pencil him in for the Indianapolis Colts. He's a sophomore walk-on who has experienced some success in practice as part of a crowded pool of talent. At a similar stage, White needed one more season of fine practices before getting on the field for the bowl game as a sophomore. Jakubik needs to keep battling on the scout team field. The good news for him is that he has caught some passes and caught some eyes.

91. Taylor Calero: Injuries have prevented the quick-footed sophomore from working on his game and progressing into the playing group. Calero sat out the spring, as part of the injured list. He saw action in only one game last year, making a tackle against Florida Atlantic.

Calero (6-2, 248, Soph., Beverly Hills, Mich./Southfield Christian) redshirted in 2010.

Last summer, Calero was the No. 7 DE in the Foundation 40, ranking No. 49 overall.

He showed some promise in the 2011 Green-White Game, including a quick, impressive, low, assertive pass rush against Zach Heuter. He also showed good take-off against Dan France on one occasion, causing France to teeter a bit. But we haven't seen him on the field since, other than last year's brief outing against FAU.

Of the six DEs ahead of him last year, three have either graduated or moved to another position (Johnathan Strayhorn, Denzel Drone, Tyler Hoover).

Meanwhile, three other DEs have surpassed Calero on the depth chart and in the Foundation 40: redshirt freshmen Shilique Calhoun and Joel Heath, and former linebacker Jeremy Gainer.

Falling from No. 49 to 91, Calero marks the biggest fall in the Foundation 40 of any player this year. But that speaks to the relatively high No. 49 ranking of a year ago, which was based on the quicks he displayed in the 2011 Green-White Game.

August Outlook: Calero needs to get healthy and get his wheels moving again. Once upon a time, he was quicker than Marcus Rush during practice reps. He wasn't as strong or technically sound as Rush, but Calero had some speed. Does he still have it? He needs to start proving it again this August, beginning as a fourth-string defensive end, likely headed to the scout team.

90. Dana Dixon: The junior from Detroit is having trouble breaking into the playing group. Dixon served as a third-string safety last year and moved to wide receiver in the spring, but is probably further from making his way onto the field at WR than he was as a DB.

In the spring game, he was the intended receiver on Peter Badovinac's deep pass, which was intercepted by Mitchell White.

Last year, Dixon (6-2, 170, Jr., Detroit Renaissance) saw action in nine games, mostly on special teams, plus some mop-up time at safety.

He was behind starters Isaiah Lewis and Trenton Robinson at safety last year, plus back-ups Kurtis Drummond and Jairus Jones, not to mention redshirting freshman Roger Williamson and injured Mylan Hicks (who was listed as a safety last year).

Dixon ranked No. 64 in the Foundation 40 last summer, followed by incoming freshmen between No. 65-85. (Incoming freshmen are ranked from No. 65 on down, annually in the Foundation 40).

This year, Dixon didn't make the cut ahead of the No. 65 barrier in our listing.

Having juniors and seniors with two letters apiece such as Dixon and Stevens ranked outside of the top 89 is unprecedented in the SPARTAN Magazine Foundation 40, dating back to our first Foundation 40 in 1999. This speaks to the improved overall depth of the roster.

Dixon is a solid support player. He was selected in the Green-White Draft ahead of WRs such as John Jakubik, A.J. Troup, Juwan Caesar and Kyle Kerrick.

August Outlook: Dixon is likely headed for another year on the scout team. If he remains at wide receiver, the position he played in the spring, he will be behind Tony Lippett, Bennie Fowler, Keith Mumphery, DeAnthony Arnett, Andre Sims Jr. and Jeremy Langford plus one or two incoming freshmen.

89. Nate Klatt: Another once-promising player who has been slowed by injuries, Klatt might be on the verge of climbing back up the depth chart.

Klatt missed most of the spring due to injury, and large parts of last fall. However, he returned to the field in late April and was one of the surprise performers in the Green-White Game. He played center and helped spark a 97-yard TD drive for the victorious White team as part of a two-minute drill. Klatt drew the defense off-side twice on the drive, including once on a third-and-one situation.

"Nate Klatt was awesome," said QB Connor Cook. "He is a smart guy. What he was doing a lot of times is when we would go shot gun it (the snap) is on the foot and then it's on the center and he would be down there with his hand on the ball and he would go, 'Ready set!' and he would cause the defense to jump off-sides. We haven't worked on that at all in practice, and he was out with a groin or something for most of the spring, but he came in there and was drawing people off. That wasn't me, that was Nate. That put the White team in great situations."

Klatt (6-4, 290, Jr., Clinton, Ohio) also showed some mobility with a snap-and-pull on a shot gun sweep, although Kyler Elsworth sawed him in half on the perimeter.

Later, Klatt executed a nice zone block against Anthony Rashad White, snapping and then crossing White's face to cut him off. The play didn't go anywhere, but it was nice execution of a reach block.

Last year, Klatt saw action in six games in mop up duty. He is two-time Academic All-Big Ten.

He missed 14 of 15 spring practices in 2011 after suffering a foot injury.

August Outlook: Give credit to Klatt for scrapping and competing. But it's going to be hard for him to make a dent in the playing group as a center with Michigan State having sophomore Travis Jackson, freshman Jack Allen and senior Ethan Ruhland in the picture as candidates at center, not to mention former center Blake Treadwell. The Spartans certainly have depth at the position.

Could Klatt move to guard and make some noise at that position? That has been part of the plan over the past 12 months, but progress has been slow due to injuries.

Klatt needs to continue the momentum he created for himself in the Green-White Game and realize he still has half of his college career still in front of him. There are plenty of examples over the years of offensive linemen rising up to become one-season starters as late-blooming seniors (John Stipek, J'Michael Deane, Sean Poole, etc.)

Past Profiles:

No. 97 DT Matt Ramondo*
No. 98 OL Kyle Lints
No. 99 WR Juwan Caesar
No. 100 TE Paul Lang
No. 101 DB Chris Laneaux
No. 102 WR A.J. Troup
No. 103 QB Peter Badovinac

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