East Lansing — If anyone understands that producing in a spring game is far from getting it done in the regular season, that person might be DeAnthony Arnett.
The wide receiver who will be entering his final season at Michigan State in the fall has routinely been a top performer in spring games and scrimmages over the last couple of seasons. But when it comes time to get it done on Saturdays in the fall, the former Tennessee transfer has often been on the sidelines.
On Saturday, he was the receiving leader again, catching five passes for 51 yards, all from Connor Cook. But he was the first to say it will only matter if he continues to play this way when the 2015 season begins.
"It feels good, but it's just a spring game," Arnett said. "Right now I have to get back in the lab and perfect my craft. Like I said before, I need to continue to build that bond with CC."
It appeared evident Saturday that bond has improved. Cook hit Arnett for a 24-yard gain on the first play of the game for the White team and looked his way often.
Arnett said he began pushing for his final season as soon as the team got back from the Cotton Bowl, working on his own going through drills and spending time with Cook.
"The whole spring I've been able to work with CC a lot and today it showed," Arnett said. "It started right after winter conditioning and after winter conditioning during winter break a little bit during that time getting a chance to work out. It's been building up this whole offseason, ever since last season ended."
Ever since Arnett came to Michigan State before the 2012 season, big things have been expected. However, they have never happened.
He has just six catches in three seasons, but coach Mark Dantonio has been impressed with Arnett's play.
"I've said all spring that he's had a good spring and been more effective," Dantonio said. "He has got to catch the ball, but he's caught the ball much better. He has great ability and we've sort of been waiting for him to take off, so 2015 might be that time.
"He's got to come to camp ready to go. He stayed healthy all spring, which is a plus, and gotten a lot of reps. He's repped with the ones and the twos so he's in that top six. If you're in that top six at wide receiver, you are going to get some opportunities. He's had some scrimmages with some nice catches as well and I think had seven catches in the last scrimmage. He's an effective player and has big-play perspective and have to wait for him to break out."
There are plenty of players battling for catches, including seniors Aaron Burbridge, Macgarrett Kings Jr. and AJ Troup, as well as juniors R.J. Shelton and Monty Madaris.
Cook has seen a different Arnett throughout the winter and spring.
"I think he wants it more," Cook said. "He's hungry. He's got a great attitude and I think that makes a world of difference, just that attitude that you've got to have."