Position-by-position breakdown of the Spartans entering preseason camp.
2015 Big Ten Receiver of the Year had a school single-season record 85 receptions for 1,258 yards and seven touchdowns.
As a junior in 2015, R.J. Shelton set career highs for receptions (43), receiving yards (503) and touchdowns (4).
Over the last three seasons, Mark Dantonio has compiled a 36-5 record (.878), including two Big Ten Championships and three Top 10 finishes in the national polls.
Center Jack Allen, wide receiver Aaron Burbridge and defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas are scheduled to participate in the 67th annual Senior Bowl.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio likes his team's resilience. Now it's time to develop a knockout punch. Connor Cook threw three touchdown passes and Nick Hill ran for two scores Saturday, but No. 8 Michigan State still needed a late interception return for a touchdown to hold on 45-31 at Purdue
During Samuel's six seasons in East Lansing, his players have earned All-Big Ten recognition six times, including two Big Ten Receivers of the Year, in Aaron Burbridge (2015) and Tony Lippett (2014). In addition, five Spartan wide receivers have been selected in the NFL Draft since his arrival in 2011, six have been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and made active NFL rosters, and seven have participated in postseason all-star games. Three of MSU's seven receivers who have recorded 1,000-yard receiving seasons have come under the tutelage of Samuel (B.J. Cunningham, Lippett, Burbridge).
R.J. Shelton, a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2016, was the latest Spartan to have a career year during his senior season. Named the team MVP in 2016, the fourth wide receiver to earn that distinction under the development of Samuel, Shelton led the Spartans in receptions (53), receiving yards (789) and all-purpose yards (1,377), and tied for the team lead in touchdown catches (5), all of which were career highs. Shelton caught two 86-yard touchdown passes (at Indiana, vs. Northwestern), becoming one of only two players in school history to have two touchdown receptions of 86 yards or longer in the same season (Sherman Lewis, 1963). Shelton signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings for the 2017 season.
Burbridge, the 2015 team MVP, became the first Spartan ever to lead the Big Ten in both receiving yards (1,258; 89.9 ypg.) and receptions (85; 6.2 pg.) in the same season, figures which also ranked among the FBS leaders (16th in receiving yards, 29th in receptions). His team-high seven TDs tied for fourth most in the conference. Burbridge recorded seven 100-yard receiving games, one shy of the MSU single-season record (Cunningham, eight, 2011). In addition, his Big Ten-leading 1,258 receiving yards were fifth most in an MSU single-season and 72 percent of his receptions (61 of 85) went for either a touchdown or first down. Burbridge's 85 catches in 2015 were a Michigan State single-season record, and he became just the second Spartan to lead the Big Ten in receptions (Kirk Gibson, 1976 and 1978) and the third to rank first in the conference in receiving yards (Charles Rogers, 2002; Lippett, 2014). He was selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
Samuel oversaw the transformation of Lippett from starting cornerback as a redshirt freshman in 2011 to Big Ten Receiver of the Year as a fifth-year senior in 2014. Lippett led the Big Ten in receiving yards (1,198) and ranked second in touchdown catches (11) while compiling six 100-yard receiving games. The first-team All-Big Ten selection caught a TD pass in eight consecutive games and ranked third in the conference in receptions with a career-high 65. Lippett became just the third Spartan in school history to record at least 60 receptions, 1,000 receiving yards, 10 TD catches and five 100-yard receiving games in a single-season (Charles Rogers: 2001, 2002; Cunningham: 2011). Lippett was selected in the fifth round (No. 156 overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins and started 13 games as a cornerback in 2016.
The 2014 Spartans featured a deep and balanced receiving corps, as four other players had at least 15 receptions on the season. It all added up to the No. 1 passing offense in the Big Ten, averaging 265.6 yards per game.
Senior Keith Mumphery, who had more than 1,300 receiving yards in his career, ranked second on the team in receiving yards (495) and tied for fourth in receptions (26), and averaged a career-best 19.0 yards per catch, good for third in the Big Ten. Mumphery was chosen by Houston in the fifth round (No. 175 overall) in the 2015 NFL Draft and has spent the past two seasons playing for the Texans.
A year after having to break in as many as four starters, the receiving corps solidified itself as one of the best during MSU's Big Ten Championship season in 2013. The Spartans were one of only two teams in the conference, along with Illinois, to have seven players with at least 17 receptions. In addition, nine different Spartans caught touchdown passes in 2013, led by fifth-year senior Bennie Fowler, who hauled in six.
Fowler, whose strong senior campaign in 2013 earned him a free agent contract with the Denver Broncos, led the Spartans with a career-high 622 receiving yards on 36 catches, while Lippett had 44 catches for 613 yards and Macgarrett Kings Jr. had 43 for 513 yards. Lippett was named to the ESPN.com Big Ten All-Bowl Team after catching five passes for 94 receiving yards in the Rose Bowl Game victory over No. 5 Stanford, including the game-winning 25-yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter. Fowler has spent the past three seasons with Denver and was a member of the Super Bowl Champion Broncos; he caught a 2-point conversion pass from Peyton Manning in Super Bowl 50.
Samuel made an immediate impact at MSU in his first season in 2011. He helped tutor fifth-year senior B.J. Cunningham, who became the school's all-time leader in receptions (218) and receiving yards (3,086). Under Samuel, Cunningham had his finest season as a Spartan, setting career highs in receptions (79), receiving yards (1,306) and touchdown catches (12). Those marks also ranked among MSU's single-season leaders in receptions (tied for first), receiving yards (third) and touchdowns (tied for third). In addition, he set an MSU single-season record with eight 100-yard receiving games. Cunningham was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media, and also earned All-America honors from Phil Steele (fourth team) and SI.com (honorable mention). A sixth-round draft pick by Miami in 2012, Cunningham is entering his third season in the CFL in 2017 with the Montreal Alouettes after ranking second on the team with a career-high 65 receptions for 855 yards and four TDs in 2016.
Keshawn Martin, an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick, also produced his best year, recording career highs in receptions (66) and receiving yards (777). A multi-dimensional threat, Martin finished his career ranked second in MSU history in punt return yards (659), eighth in kick return yards (1,100), 10th in all-purpose yards (4,013), 11th in receptions (127), 16th in receiving yards (1,714) and tied for 17th in touchdown pass receptions (10).
Cunningham (79 catches) and Martin (66) combined for 145 receptions in 2011, the most ever by a receiving duo in a Michigan State season (previous record: 124 by Charles Rogers (67) and Herb Haygood (57) in 2001). Cunningham (1,306 yards) and Martin (777) also produced the most receiving yards of any receiving duo in an MSU season, teaming up for 2,083 receiving yards in 2011 (previous record: Plaxico Burress (1,142) and Gari Scott (843) with 1,985 receiving yards in 1998). Both of those marks by Cunningham and Martin (145 receptions; 2,083 receiving yards) ranked first among receiving duos in the Big Ten in 2011.
Martin was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans, while Cunningham was picked in the sixth round by the Miami Dolphins. Martin has played five seasons in the NFL with Houston (2012-14), New England (2015) and San Francisco (2016).
Samuel spent the 2010 season at Central Michigan under former Spartan quarterback and assistant coach Dan Enos. During his only season at CMU, Samuel mentored Cody Wilson, who posted one of the top individual receiving seasons in school history. Wilson caught 83 passes for 1,137 yards and five touchdowns, recording just the sixth individual 1,000-yard receiving season in school history. His 83 receptions rank fifth in school history for a single season, while his 1,137 yards rank third. He ranked ninth nationally in receiving yards per game (94.8), 11th in receptions per game (6.9) and 13th in total receiving yards. Wilson was named the team's Herb Deromedi Most Valuable Player for the 2010 season and earned All-Mid-American Conference second-team accolades.
Prior to his stop in Mount Pleasant, Samuel coached receivers at North Dakota State for two seasons (2008-09). In 2008, he worked directly with Kole Heckendorf, who spent the 2009 season with the Detroit Lions.
Samuel arrived at North Dakota State after making a second stop at Nebraska-Omaha. He was the offensive coordinator and running backs coach at Nebraska-Omaha in 2007, helping lead the Mavericks to a 10-1 overall record and North Central Conference championship. Running backs Brian McNeill (first team) and Nate Wurth (second team) both earned all-conference honors.
Samuel coached receivers at Southeast Missouri State in 2006 following his original three-year stint at Nebraska-Omaha.
He coached defensive backs at Nebraska-Omaha in 2003 and 2004, then assumed the duties of special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach in 2005. Samuel mentored All-America linebacker Kenny Onatolu, a four-year NFL player, in 2005, and he was part of a coaching staff that led the Mavericks to conference championships in 2004 and 2005.
Samuel began his coaching career at Nebraska-Omaha as a graduate assistant from 1998-2000. He also spent the 2001 and 2002 seasons as a graduate assistant at Arizona. Samuel was a four-year letterman (1991-94) as a receiver for Coach Jim Colletto at Purdue.
He earned his bachelor's degree in communication and psychology from Purdue in 1995 and his master's degree in recreation administration from Nebraska-Omaha in 2001. While at Purdue, he was the recipient of the 1994 Kiwanis Citizenship Award, which is presented to a Boilermaker football player who excels most in the combined roles of player, student and community volunteer.
Samuel and his wife, Jaclyn, are the parents of two children: Brooklyn and Draven.
THE SAMUEL FILE
YEARS AT MICHIGAN STATE: Seventh. Joined staff on Feb. 11, 2011, from Central Michigan.
PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE: College - Graduate assistant coach at Nebraska-Omaha (1998-2000); graduate assistant coach at Arizona (2001-02); defensive backs coach (2003-04) and outside linebackers coach/special teams coordinator (2005) at Nebraska-Omaha; wide receivers at Southeast Missouri State (2006); the offensive coordinator and running backs coach at Nebraska-Omaha (2007); wide receivers coach at North Dakota State (2008-09); wide receivers coach at Central Michigan (2010).
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in communication and psychology from Purdue in 1995; master's degree in recreation administration from Nebraska-Omaha in 2001.
PLAYING EXPERIENCE: College - Four-year letterwinner as a wide receiver at Purdue (1991-94).
POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: Coach - 2000 NCAA Division II Playoffs, 2005 NCAA Division II Playoffs, 2007 NCAA Division II Playoffs, 2012 Outback Bowl, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 2014 Rose Bowl, 2015 Cotton Bowl, 2015 College Football Playoff (Cotton Bowl).