Cody White breaks into the clear as Michigan State's No. 1 receiving threat

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing – Cody White doesn’t want to hear about potential or how high someone’s ceiling might beat.

The Michigan State junior is more interested in results.

“With me being out there and the other guys that got hurt, just knowing that our potential,” White said before pausing for a beat.

Cody White

“And I hate using the word potential,” he said shaking his head. “Because that means we’re not there yet. But we know the level we can get to and we’re excited to show people that this year.”

White was responding to a question about the real effect a massive number of injuries had on Michigan State’s offense in 2018. There was no position group that avoided it, and the receivers were right in the middle of it as White missed four games with a broken hand and then senior Felton Davis ruptured his Achilles midway through the year. Darrell Stewart was also bothered by ankle problems while Jalen Nailor, Cam Chambers, Brandon Sowards, Laress Nelson and C.J. Hayes all missed time, as well.

White, however, didn’t want to hear any of it.

“(The injuries) played a part in our struggles last year, but we don’t like to make excuses here at Michigan State,” he said. “It’s just about the next guy up and try to overcome it.”

While it seemed a bit overwhelming to overcome last season, the Spartans head into 2019 completely healthy at wide receiver, including White.

With Davis off to the NFL and Stewart continuing to play his role as the solid do-everything type of receiver, White is likely sliding into the position of being quarterback Brian Lewerke’s favorite target. Even though he missed the four games last season, White still led Michigan State with 555 receiving yards while grabbing a pair of touchdown catches. That came after a freshman season when White had 35 receptions for 490 yards and four touchdowns while being named to the Big Ten Network’s All-Freshman team.

Cody White

And at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, the former high school quarterback, running back and receiver has the athleticism to make all the tough catches. He was trying to make one in the end zone against Central Michigan when he broke his hand and when he returned to the lineup against Maryland, he quickly was on the highlight reel with a one-handed grab while being pulled down by a defender.

More of the same seems to be in store this season.

“He seems a lot more physical this year than what he was last year,” Lewerke said. “He’ll be definitely that guy that you can just throw it up, kind of like Felton was, and he’ll just go get the ball.”

With White, Stewart and Nailor – the likely starters at wide receiver for the Spartans – Michigan State should be in the right position to breathe some life into an offense that managed just 18.7 points a game last season.

The offensive coaching changes have Don Treadwell leading the wide receivers after assisting last season with the defensive backs. Treadwell has plenty of experience with receivers, having coached the position with the Spartans from 2007-10 when he was also the offensive coordinator.

He had his share of experience then at Michigan State and knows how valuable it will be this season, especially from White.

“He’s a really good student of the game,” Treadwell said of White. “He’s probably one of the best in our room and I would say he would challenge most of the guys in there in terms of his understanding of what we do offensively, and also how we want to attack the defense. That’s very helpful when you can have a receiver that can appreciate the bigger picture and not just a specific role.”

The bigger picture is what White is focusing on. Ask him about individual goals and he quickly pivots to what the team needs to accomplish.

“We’re just trying to get wins any way we can,” White said. “And for us to win we know our offense has to be excelling at all areas. So that’s one of the key points that we’re focusing on this camp.”

There’s plenty of key points for Michigan State’s offense to focus on. From running the ball more consistently to keeping Lewerke healthy, there’s a lot of the Spartans to improve.

Included in that is the play of the receivers and White is ready to show he and the rest of the offense are ready to match up with a defense among the best in the nation.

“We know we’re kind of the little dogs to the defense because the defense is just so great,” White said laughing. “If we can get up to that expectation of what the defense is we know we’re playing very well.”

Twitter: @mattcharboneau