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Michigan State WR Antonio Gates Jr., DB Sean Brown enter transfer portal

On3 imageby:Jake Lyskawa04/22/24


East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State redshirt sophomore wide receiver Antonio Gates Jr. entered the transfer portal on Monday, per On3 national reporter Pete Nakos. Gates has three years of eligibility remaining. 

Gates – the son of NFL great Antonio Gates – spent two seasons at Michigan State after committing to Mel Tucker and the Spartans as part of the program’s 2022 recruiting class. He was not a full participant in Saturday’s Spring Showcase.

Michigan State had Montorie Foster, Jaron Glover and Aziah Johnson as the three starting receivers during the scrimmaging portion of Saturday’s event. Johnson redshirted last year and wasn’t projected by SpartanMag to be among the starting contenders, and it’s unclear if the initial lineup on Saturday indeed reflected the official depth chart. The other 10 starters on Saturday seemed to reflect presumptive starters at their respective positions.

True freshman Nick Marsh and redshirt freshman Jaelen Smith began the second unit’s initial drive in a two-WR formation. Alante Brown was the next receiver off the bench.

Gates wasn’t with the first, second or third unit at wide receiver for the opening three series of the scrimmage. But he did participate in pre-scrimmage drills. 

It’s unclear whether Gates was battling any physical ailments.

Gates (6-2, 194) played in all 12 games for Michigan State last season, including 175 snaps on offense and 26 on special teams. He caught five passes for 82 yards and one touchdown last season as a redshirt freshman. 

The Detroit native redshirted his first season in East Lansing and did not appear in a game. 

A former four-star prospect out of Dearborn (Mich.) Fordson High School, Gates was the No. 290 player in the 2022 class, per the On3 Industry Rankings. He was also the No. 47 wide receiver and No. 7 player from Michigan. 

Michigan State will now look to fill the hole left by Gates in the wide receiver room. The Spartans will host Auburn transfer wide receiver Ja’Varrius Johnson this Thursday through Saturday, SpartanMag confirmed on April 17.

Johnson (5-10, 167) caught 19 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns last season. He logged 66 receptions for 1,092 yards and eight touchdowns in his five-year career at Auburn. 

Michigan State has also offered former Colorado State wide receiver Justus Ross-Simmons, per Nakos. Ross-Simmons (6-3, 205) earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West honors last season. He caught 45 passes for 724 yards and three touchdowns last year as a sophomore. 

Michigan State will return Foster and Brown as veterans in the room. Glover will also return after flirting with the transfer portal earlier this offseason. After making noise during Saturday’s Spring Scrimmage, Marsh figures to earn some playing time this season as well. 

Johnson and Smith will also look to develop into regular contributors this season. The Spartans will add true freshmen Jaylan Brown and Austin Clay to the room this summer.

Michigan State DB Sean Brown enters portal

Michigan State defensive back Sean Brown also entered the portal on Monday, per Nakos. Brown spent one season in East Lansing. He has three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Brown (6-3, 190) played in seven games for Michigan State last season, logging 24 snaps on defense and 27 on special teams. The Los Angeles native finished the season with three total tackles.

A former three-star recruit out of Simi Valley (Calif.) High School, Brown was the No. 1063 player in the 2023 class, per the On3 Industry Rankings. He was also the No. 93 player from California.

Tucker flipped Brown from Arizona to Michigan State just before early signing day in December 2022.

Gates and Brown join offensive lineman Braden Miller, defensive back Eddie Pleasant, running back Jaelon Barbarin, defensive tackle Simeon Barrow, linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote and defensive back Marqui Lowery as Michigan State players who have entered the portal during the spring window, which is open until April 30.

Michigan State wide receiver Antonio Gates Jr. catches a pass during practice on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, in East Lansing – Nick King, USA TODAY Sports

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