Wait, Michigan State has a club football team?
Yes, they sure do. As we profiled last spring, Chris Wesolowski and Matt Oxie hatched the idea of beginning a club football team at MSU in the fall of 2014. Now, the team is preparing to kick off their inaugural season.
The Spartans have national title aspirations thanks to a wealth of underrated talent and an accomplished coaching staff. After an intriguing combine in April, where over 80 players showcased their talents, the team worked out over the summer and cut the roster down to 60.
What league will the Spartans be participating in?
The National Club Football Association (NCFA) consists of 25 schools from around the country. The Spartans are placed in the difficult Great Lakes East Conference. Their conference rivals include the University of Miami (Ohio), Ohio State University, Wright State University, the University of Michigan-Flint, and Oakland University (last season’s undefeated national champions).
Who is on the coaching staff?
Head coach Al Manfroni enters his 36th year of coaching football. He has coached at many different levels, but his teams have all been very successful. Manfroni’s squads have recorded a losing record only twice in those 35 years.
Defensive coordinator Chris Pickney joins his old boss after leading division rival Oakland University to the national championship last season. The defense will use multiple schemes to stop opposing offenses.
Offensive coordinator Brad Boven also comes to East Lansing by way of Oakland, looking to implement a no-huddle spread offense with the Spartans.
Other coaches include Mitch Brooks, Kevin Palmer, Chris Miller and Tony Tinnin.
Who are some of the key players for this season?
The coaches voted on six team captains last week. They include starting quarterback Vinny Costanzo, wide receiver Jake Sterling, offensive tackle Jon Strain, defensive tackle Devin Schlossberg, linebacker William Zatezalo and safety Lucas Mayo.
Who do they play first?
The Ohio State University Buckeyes are the Spartans’ first test this year. The Buckeyes went 3-4 (1-3 in divisional play) last season. They defeated Longwood University in their first game last week, 15-6.
Sweet! Where can I go to cheer the Spartans on to victory?
The Spartans host those Buckeyes on Sunday, October 4 at 1:00 p.m. The team’s home field is at Hope Sports Complex in Lansing. The team is looking for a strong crowd for their first game.
Did you know?
The NCFA coaches have a weekly poll where the top teams in the 25-team league are ranked. Michigan State has not received any votes and is tied for 17th. This week’s opponent, Ohio State, is ranked ninth. Next week’s opponent, the defending champs at Oakland University, are currently No. 1.