EAST LANSING- Michigan State tight end Matt Sokol had high goals for himself to reach in 2017. After playing behind former Spartan Josiah Price for two years, a lot of offensive production fell on Sokol’s shoulders. Looking back, it wasn’t the season that he envisioned. It wasn’t the role in the offense he hoped to have. And isn’t the label he wants his career to end on.
Sokol finished the year with just 21 receptions for 222 yards and found the end zone just one time. He caught three passes in a game just twice, and his longest reception went for just 22 yards.
“Statistically I did not reach the goals that I set for myself last season so I have been working my tail off in improving at that production factor from the tight end position,” Sokol said.
Returning for his fifth and final season in East Lansing, Sokol vows for an increase in production, not just from himself but from the two other tight ends returning on the roster. Sophomores Noah Davis and Matt Dotson struggled to produce as well but showed potential towards the conclusion of the season.
“We’ve got some guys that have played a substantial amount of football for us now at that position so I think we have a chance to do a lot of great things together and elevate our production together as a unit,” Sokol said.
That starts with becoming a bigger receiving threat. Whether it is being a safety net for his quarterback, or finding space between the seems, Sokol wants to be a focal point of Michigan State’s offense.
The red zone specifically is where Sokol wants to “show up” more often. That is where Price made his money his entire career at Michigan State. His 21 career touchdowns attest to it. And Sokol sees no reason why he can’t do it either.
“Thats something I think about everyday,” said Sokol. “Just making the big plays, being a consistent red zone contributor.”
For Sokol, it started with getting on a better page with his quarterback, Brian Lewerke. A lack of trust between himself and Lewerke could have played a factor in his minor role in the passing game last season. Sokol also believes that trust has been restored.
“We spent a lot of time this offseason together throwing extra routes, working on red zone stuff, a lot of 7-on-7’s, a lot of just throwing the ball together trying to get on the same page,” Sokol said.
After an offseason of work Sokol sees no reason why not only himself but the other tight ends on the roster can become a consistent option in the passing game. They could add in another wrinkle to Michigan State’s explosive offense that opposing defenses will have to be weary of.
“That’s just been something we have been emphasizing all offseason is that we need to produce,” Said Sokol.
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