Michigan State’s Matt Sokol waits his turn, now leads young group of tight ends

Michigan State-Matt Sokol

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State tight end Matt Sokol sat behind Josiah Price for three years, watching and learning.

And just what did he learn? Sokol turned, looked behind him and pointed toward the sound of footballs being shot out of a passing machine.

Sokol, a junior, said Price caught “an unbelievable amount of balls” out of the machine during his five years with the Spartans. Now that Price is gone, Sokol has begun to make up ground.

“I’m trying to beat him on that, see if I can,” Sokol, from Rochester, Mich., said after practice. “I don’t know if I’m there yet. I probably spend about 10 minutes every day on that at least, just myself catching.”

Beating Price in anything will be quite an accomplishment. He finished his college career in 2016 with 21 touchdown catches, the most ever by a Michigan State tight end. Additionally, his 104 catches and 1,238 receiving yards rank third among Spartans tight ends.

Through three years with the program, Sokol has 2 catches for 26 yards. But now that Price and Jamal Lyles have moved on, it’s his time to seize the spotlight. And Price has been supportive, getting in touch to FaceTime with Sokol as the season approaches.

“I was on the scout team for two years, and every day I brought a lot of intensity to there,” he said. “I played against some really great defensive ends, played against some great guys and took that approach to getting our defense ready when that was my role. At the same time, I just always had my eye that one day it was going to be my time here. This’ll be my opportunity, so those guys definitely gave me a lot of advice to get ready for it.”

Sokol will lead a group of tight ends that doesn’t have a single career grab among them. Noah Davis, a redshirt freshman, looks to have a hold on the No. 2 spot. Coach Mark Dantonio said freshmen Jack Camper and Matt Dotson will play, though whether that’s at tight end or in a special teams role remains to be seen.

And it appears the Spartans are bolstering their tight end depth by snatching a rising talent from the defensive line. Dantonio confirmed Monday that redshirt freshman Mufi Hill-Hunt has been working with the group, and Sokol offered his assessment.

“Mufi is, first of all, just such a huge body, so that was nice to see in our room,” Sokol said. “He’s a big, big, thick dude, so I’m really excited for him to learn the ropes and get our offense down and be able to see how he can do blocking some big dudes that around his size, too. I’m excited for that.”

If Davis, Hill-Hunt, Camper and Dotson all see the field this year, it would be their first time doing so. As for Sokol, he’s had his brief opportunities, allowing him and quarterback Brian Lewerke to develop a rapport.

“Him and Josiah [Price], they’re different but the same,” Lewerke said. “Josiah was a little slower, but he was good at blocking, good at getting open. Sokol’s a little faster, so he can make people miss, and also in the run game, he’s very good at blocking. I’m excited to see what he can do.”

Of all the inexperienced Michigan State position groups, tight end might take the crown. But between Sokol and Davis, tight ends coach Jim Bollman says he has a good base for success.

Davis, Bollman said, picked up the offense more quickly than most. And Sokol, despite his lack of game action, has been around the program so long that he knows it as well as anyone.

“Those two guys have a lot more knowledge for their relative experience, shall we say,” Bollman said. “So that’s really good. Those two guys aren’t holding us back.”

The post Michigan State’s Matt Sokol waits his turn, now leads young group of tight ends appeared first on Land of 10.

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