Michigan State is among the top talent-producing schools for NFL players and this week will be no different. With the NFL Draft kicking off Thursday, Talk of Fame Network finished up its six-week tour of the NFL’s top feeder programs at Michigan State, which regularly sends some of the league’s top receivers into the league.
Michigan State has produced six Pro Bowl receivers and one of them, Muhsin Muhammad, dropped by Talk of Fame Network this week to recall both his formative days at Michigan State and to explain how in the heck a school known for bad weather, pounding running and stout defense has given the likes of wide receivers Andre Rison, Derrick Mason, Plaxico Burress and Muhsin himself, among others, to the NFL. When did Michigan State become Wide Receiver U?
“From Day One,’’ said Muhsin, who ended his 14-year NFL career with over 11,000 receiving yards. “What’s funny, guys, is when you think about Michigan State, you think cold weather. Conditions that test the spirit and character of players.’’
Muhammad admitted Michigan State is known for running first and playing defense but knows some may scratch their heads at their list of top level NFL wide receivers and think “wide receivers? At that School?’’ But Muhammad believes, however, that the hard-nosed style and demanding weather conditions produce “black and blue wide receivers,’’ meaning guys who are weather tested and strong-willed.
Muhammad credits his own rise to an elite-level receiver to former Michigan State head coach Nick Saban, who was the man who gave him his chance.
“I really never got an opportunity to start under (former MSU coach) George (Perles),’’ Muhammad recalled. “I made the conversion in college (from high school linebacker and running back to wide receiver). My first year as a starter was my senior year. My wide receiver career really started in the pros. (But Michigan State) really prepared me for the next level.’’
Speaking of the next level, that’s what this week is all about with the three-day NFL Draft beginning Thursday night. Talk of Fame Network brought in draft analyst Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com to get his take on what the Browns needed to do with the first pick and to analyze his top 100 players as well as giving us the last of the 100 mock drafts he did this year.
While Rang believes USC quarterback Sam Darnold was the best player on the board, he correctly predicted the Browns would for Baker Mayfield, the undersized Oklahoma quarterback. Rang had Mayfield rated as the 11th best player in the draft, meaning he was taken well above where Rang had him slotted. He believes Mayfield’s lack of size makes him a risk in a cold-weather division like the AFC North and would have opted for Darnold. He also felt controversial former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen was “the No. 2 pure passer’’ in this draft. If he is, the Arizona Cardinals may get the last laugh.
True to our Hall of Fame roots, our HOF co-hosts Rick Gosselin, Ron Borges and Clark Judge, also swing into a lively debate of Jaguars’ club president and two-time Super Bowl winning coach Tom Coughlin’s declaration this week that ex-Jags Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith “should be in the Hall of Fame.’’
Clark was a little skeptical about that and Rick seemed to have his doubt about Taylor and Smith too, but Borges points out Taylor is 17th all-time in rushing and Smith has better receiving numbers than the Steelers’ Hines Ward, who many believe will one day enter the Hall. Be sure to listen to them argue it out over Coughlin’s point.
Clark states the case for Hall of Fame hopeful Steve Tasker, who the Bills have pushed for years for inclusion in the Hall as a special team maven. Clark argues he was a major factor on the Bills’ four Super Bowl teams because of his skills on coverage units and as a return man. While admitting a special teams player has never been voted into the Hall, Clark argues it’s 1/3 of the game and Tasker was the best at it.
The guys also discuss Michigan State’s draft history, the great linebacker George Webster and whether or not Kirk Gibson did the right thing choosing major league baseball over a career in the NFL. You’ll be surprised why Gibson started playing baseball at Michigan State. It wasn’t the baseball coach’s idea.
There’s all that and much more this week on Talk of Fame Network. You can hear it all on your local SB Nation Radio network station or you can download our free podcast at iTunes or by using the TuneIn app. You can also hear the show at any time on our website, talkoffamenetwork.com.