August 11, 2014 at 10:58 pm

DeAnthony Arnett making strong case for Michigan State receivers group

East Lansing — DeAnthony Arnett doesn’t say a whole lot these days.

Quite frankly, Michigan State’s junior wide receiver hasn’t had a whole lot to talk about the past two seasons.

So after his standout performance in the first scrimmage of camp last weekend, when he had eight catches for 167 yards and two touchdowns, others were comfortable talking for him.

“DeAnthony went bananas,” quarterback Connor Cook said. “He almost had 200 yards receiving. (Tyler) O’Connor threw him a deep post route for 40-plus yards that got called back, so add 40 to (that). DeAnthony is just a great player..”

Coach Mark Dantonio, however, didn’t gush over Arnett — as much.

“He had big plays,” Dantonio said. “The thing here has to be who’s gonna be consistent in the second (scrimmage) in the wide receiver area? We’ve got some guys back, but he’s in the picture. He’s definitely in the picture and he’s one of those six.”

It’s a tough group to crack with the likes of seniors Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery along with juniors Aaron Burbridge and Macgarrett Kings and sophomore R.J. Shelton.

But Arnett, after redshirting last season, finds himself firmly in the mix after transferring from Tennessee before the 2012 season.

“I just had a good day,” Arnett said. “I was running my routes and being where the quarterback needed me to be and was just making plays on the ball.”

It’s not something that has happened often for Arnett. After catching 24 passes at Tennessee in 2011, the Saginaw native came to Michigan State to be closer to his father, who was ill.

Arnett, however, appeared in seven games in 2012 and played once last year. That playing time yielded four catches.

But he has gotten stronger, weighing in at 190 pounds, and feels more comfortable in his role.

“I can just say I’m ready for my opportunity whenever it presents itself,” he said.

Lippett is No. 1

As deep as the receiving corps is for the Spartans, Cook made it clear his go-to guy is Lippett.

“For sure,” Cook said. “He’s definitely No. 1.”

Lippett led the team with 44 catches last season and made a dandy one Monday that cemented his status in Cook’s eyes.

“It was one-on-one coverage and Tony ran a fade and (cornerback) Arjen (Colquhoun) was right on him,” Cook said. “I tried to throw a back-shoulder and it was basically at Arjen’s back. Tony went up and right over Arjen and just plucked it off his back, so I would say he is making me better right there.”

Thomas showing his stuff

The rave reviews keep coming in for junior Lawrence Thomas.

Getting most of the reps as the No. 1 nose tackle, Thomas is making the most of the fact he is healthy for the first time since he arrived on campus in 2011.

“This is a new L.T.,” defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said. “L.T. is playing very, very well.”

It has been a difficult road for Thomas, who has dealt with his share of injuries after coming to Michigan State as a five-star linebacker. In the process he has moved from defense to offense and back to defense.

Now he is finally showing why he was so highly regarded.

“I think he’s just grown up,” Narduzzi said. “He’s tougher, he’s more physical, he’s consistent. ... When you’re on the field, you can get better. When you’re not on the field, you can’t.”

Meet the Spartans

When: Tuesday, 5-8 p.m.

Where: Spartan Stadium; stadium gates (B and C) open at 4:30

Cost: Free

Parking: Free — park in lots 79 and 62W

Autographs: Offensive players, 5:30-6:30; defensive players, 6:30-7:30; coach Mark Dantonio, 5:30-7:30

What else: MSU cheerleaders and dance team members will distribute free schedule posters. Sparty will be on hand for photos. At nearby Ralph Young Field, there will be a punt-pass-snap-kick competition.

Spartan receiver DeAnthony Arnett pulls in a pass over his back as Michigan State holds practice in pads Monday. / Dale G. Young / Detroit News