Tony Lippett isn’t walking into the Michigan State Spartans’ locker room anytime soon. Neither is Keith Mumphery.
It’s been widely publicized who the Spartans don’t have playing this upcoming season, but what is more important is who is going to be donning the pads come game time.
One of those players is DeAnthony Arnett.
The 5-foot-11 wide receiver who originally played at the University of Tennessee prior to transferring to MSU has had a rough go playing with the boys in East Lansing.
The fifth-year senior’s name is one lost in translation, especially if you look at the statistics: he had two catches for 11 total yards in 2014.
The Saginaw, Michigan native left UT to be closer to his ailing father in The Mitten State; he was a highly-touted athlete coming out of high school and was initially heavily recruited by the Spartans.
But the past is the past for a reason, and it seems as if Arnett is focusing on the future. His spot on the Spartans’ preseason depth chart — listed as a co-starter with teammate MacGarrett Kings, Jr. in the ‘Z’ receiver spot — shows he understands the moment and wants one more chance to redemption.
The Lansing State Journal’s Chris Solari further touched upon the urgency facing Arnett.
In what could be an underwhelming and anticlimactic end to his college career, Arnett has put his college career in “drive” and has taken steps to make sure the story ends with success rather than failure.
“I just pushed myself to the limit in everything that I’ve done to put myself in a good position,” Arnett said in the LSJ. “You never know when football is over. Period. That definitely was an attitude in my focus this year, do everything I needed to do to get on the field.
“If this is a great year, it will be one heck of a story. One hell of a story. We all know that.”
The Saginaw High School star actually rejected a scholarship offer from coach Mark Dantonio and MSU, and his family situation took over his own life. After choosing MSU over in-state rival Michigan, he was granted a release by the Volunteers and attempted to make his name elsewhere.
However, it wasn’t easy.
MSU wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel said Arnett put so much pressure on himself to succeed, he couldn’t be the player he was all along. Now, he is playing with a more natural style that exposes his true skills.
After recent success for many MSU pass catchers, along with the prospect of playing with one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, Arnett is using his college experiences and a dose of patience to come to terms with reality.
What is the reality, you ask? It’s that Arnett’s time is now. Samuel says he and Arnett are on the same page and see eye to eye. No matter why Arnett didn’t play in the past, it’s literally all in the past now.
The only thing left to do is produce.
“In the years I’ve been here, it’s been very challenging,” Arnett said. “But only the strong survive. I could have easily just left because I’m not getting enough reps. I could have pouted and stuff like that. But you come here to a big program like this, you come here to win championships and everyone’s good.
“Being patient. That’s what life is about, being patient. That’s just how I’ve been. I don’t think I’ve changed or anything. Myself, it’s just being patient and waiting my turn. There’s been great guys ahead of me that are in the NFL doing great things.”
After MSU’s spring game in April — a game in which Arnett caught the most balls — Cook noticed a different type of poise in Arnett’s character. For a team without a clear No. 1 receiver, Arnett could be that guy.
You just never know.
“He’s just more confident and comfortable, and you can see that in his play,” Cook said. “Before, he was timid and didn’t really know what was going on. He’d line up wrong, would run the wrong routes and stuff. Now, he’s running them right, knows how to run a route against a certain defense and gets to where he needs to be.”
After growing in Saginaw and being quite familiar with the history of the MSU program, Arnett realizes that it’s his time to grab life by the horns and be a difference maker. In a golden age of Spartan athletics, the embattled receiver aims to become yet another footnote in Spartan lore.
“It’s been tremendous to see Michigan State, going up and down so many years as a kid, and now for us to be at the top tier and be consistent,” he said. “I understand the bigger picture of it. And like I said, hopefully this year’s a great year for everyone and every senior can go out on top. That’s what we want.”