If you want the technical answer: no, AJ Sims will not be Le’Veon Bell because he’s not a running back nor is he a true Freshman.
However, Sims is in a position of need for the Spartan football program, wide receiver, with inexperienced underclassman in front of him. Much like when Bell came in as a true Freshman in 2010 with Larry Caper and Edwin Baker expecting to handle the backfield duties with little experience.
The Spartans have a lot of question marks at WR this fall, Bennie Fowler has the most career receptions with 16 as a Spartan and De’Anthony Arnett had 24 for the University of Tennessee last year and was awarded with a hardship waiver from the NCAA to be able to play this year for the Spartans as a true Sophomore.
The Spartans have a lot of perceived talent on the outside and some more under center in Andrew Maxwell but this passing game is absolutely the weakest part of the very talented MSU football team this coming season…for now.
Maxwell has been in the MSU Football program for 3 years now and was a very highly touted high school quarterback when he committed to MSU so any questions about him may not be necessary as there is a good chance he is a better overall quarterback than Kirk Cousins was.
But the receiving corps is going to need some help and that is where AJ Sims will come in. Arnett has to learn another new playbook this fall and could take time to do so. Bennie Fowler, Tony Lippett and Keith Mumprhy are all listed ahead of Sims on the depth chart as fall practice is about to start but that may not matter.
Sims is much smaller that these three listed ahead of him, at 5’9″ and a generous 180 lbs, he is regarded by all in the program to have the best hands and is the best route runner of all the Spartan receivers.
Not even the best receiver in his recruiting class according to the big recruiting services, Sims, like Bell, could show up, under the radar and just out work everyone and do all the small, tactical parts of the game way better than anyone else.
Like Bell two years ago, Sims was the surprise first pick in the Green/White spring game this past year and Maxwell has multiple times praised Sims route running, knowledge of the offense and ability to catch the ball in traffic and take hits while holding onto the ball.
And with not just the receivers being short on experience this year, the tight ends are also not very deep, a quality #3 receiver playing that slot, that can get open, hold onto the ball, make the BJ Cunningham style, chain moving 1st down catchers, could be the most valuable find for the Spartan offense in 2012.
Only game action will tell, as the Spartans all praised Bell throughout the fall practice leading up to the first game in 2010 and then the rest of us got to see what everyone was talking about, the same will happen with AJ Sims. No one will truly know, but if he can be a similar “burst onto the scene and contribute immediately” style player at a position of need, this should be yet another fantastic MSU football season.