Michigan State football stars Bryce Baringer and Jayden Reed tackle NFL draft process

Spring is right around the corner, which means it’s a vital time in the careers of many college football athletes. After the season ends in January, it’s quickly becoming time for the upper classes to shift gears and start preparing for the next stages of their footballing lives.

The NFL Draft will take place April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri. Many college football athletes will hear their name on the stage, which means they have officially reached the highest level of American football. For others, there will be a lot of nervousness during the weekend event as there is no guarantee of being selected by a franchise.

NFL scouts love targeting skill position players, including quarterbacks, wide receivers, cornerbacks and other monster athletes. Favoritism makes it harder for other positional athletes to get attention.

Michigan State punter Bryce Baringer was one of the best in the entire country in the 2022 season. The sixth-year senior was a consensus first-team All-American, Big Ten Punter of the year, First-Team All-Big Ten and has the best punt average in Big Ten history at 46.0 yards per punt throughout his career.

Although Baringer has won all sorts of awards and set many records, it has been difficult for him to guarantee his name will be called in the draft. Special teams players, such as punters, kickers, and returners, are often considered third-day picks, or even undrafted free agents. However, Baringer enjoyed the process regardless of its national attention.

Baringer said he has adjusted to the training lifestyle as he prepares for April.

“Finding the new routines was a bit difficult at first, but I adapted pretty quickly,” Baringer said. “It was nice to still be able to come and train here, while getting treatment.”

Baringer also noted that he has practiced around the country with several free agents and a few NFL players, including Detroit Lions punter Jack Fox in San Diego.

Baringer did everything he could to train, despite not competing in Michigan State’s Pro Day.

The good thing for Baringer is that he received an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine, where he participated in drills in front of professional coaches, owners and scouts last February. The best athletes in the draft process usually participate in the combine to also show their talent in action. He also received an invite to Resee’s Senior Bowl, which is basically a college football senior all-star game after the season in Mobile, Alabama.

“It’s always nice to get those big invites,” Baringer said. “So to get a chance to go to Mobile and be with you know, some of the top seniors, and the same with the Combine, to be around guys like the top five picks… Just seeing all the buzz, that’s pretty cool.”

At the Senior Bowl in February, Baringer posted an average maximum distance of 56.4 yards per kick with hang times reaching 4 to 4.5 seconds, which was best among all punters during practices.

His offseason was important for his profile. He’s also not the only Michigan State player to do the same.

Wide receiver Jayden Reed also entered his name in the NFL Draft. The Spartan Speedboat has also flown under the radar due to its size and frame.

The redshirt senior broke out in 2021, earning first-team All-American honors in addition to posting 59 receptions, 1,026 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, all of which were career highs. Reed’s 2022 campaign included 55 receptions, 636 receiving yards and five touchdowns to go along with a Senior Bowl invite as well.

Reed was in his pro day and was mostly getting punts, even if they weren’t from Baringer.

“It was fun, you know, having a teammate there,” Reed said of his time at the combine and the Senior Bowl with Baringer. “I always knew what he was capable of. I saw that every day in training, so it was nothing new to me. I knew he was the best in the country.

Off-season training has been a wild and exciting ride for the two MSU stars as they hopefully wait to hear their names called in late April in the draft.


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