When Michigan State offensive tackle Fou Fonoti suffered a foot injury just prior to the Spartans home game against Notre Dame, Spartan fans hoped the 6-4, 296-pound Fonoti would only be gone a few weeks.
However, as each week passed the return of Fonoti was talked about less and for good reason as the Spartans and Fonoti announced on Sunday night the former Cerritos (Calif.) College standout would take a medical redshirt and return for another season wearing the Green & White.
“When I first got injured, I knew that at some point and time I’d have to weight my options,” explained Fonoti. “When I made the decision to transfer here from junior college, I thought of it as a two-year investment. I was prepared to deal with being so far away from my family in Southern California. So when this opportunity presented itself, I immediately thought about spending another year away from home, but I continued to pray about it. I talked with my girlfriend and her family as well as my mom and my entire family. We discussed all the options. And as tough as it was, in my heart, I had a straightforward answer: ‘I’ve got to come back.’ When I signed that National Letter of Intent, I devoted my everything to being a Spartan, and I haven’t fulfilled my expectations yet. I’ve decided to come back and look forward to competing with these guys again next season. I’m really excited about the 2013 season. I see this injury as a blessing in disguise.”
While Fonoti may have seen a chance to return as a blessing, the blessing is not lost to Spartans offensive line coach Mark Staten.
“Fou’s ability to stay an extra year will help us tremendously,” said Staten. “He has game experience, a high football IQ and great leadership ability. Fou has the unique ability to pull the best out of everybody around him. He will help make the 2013 season very special.
“It’s been very, very tough for Fou to watch the majority of this season from the sidelines. Fortunately, he’s been able to travel to a few road games. His presence around the team is invaluable. He’s been very helpful in meetings as well. Fou can help the younger guys understand why certain things are happening on the defensive line, like adjusting to fronts and blitz packages. He also can help them understand why the double team has to stay on as long as it does or when the timing is right to come off a lineman and take on a linebacker.”
Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio equally excited on what Fonoti can bring to the team next season.
“Fou Fonoti is one of the emotional leaders for our football team,” said Dantonio. “He’s an excitable person that brings a lot of passion to the game. It’s a tremendous advantage to have him back for another season, and we’re excited about his decision. He’ll be able to graduate and enhance his chances to possibly play professional football. Fou can play a variety of positions on the offensive line, so he isn’t locked into playing tackle.”
It is the versatility Dantonio talks about that should have Spartan fans excited going forward as we look at what the makeup of the Spartans 2013 offensive line can bring to the field.
After a season of issues along the offensive line Michigan State should be strong up front with Fonoti's return and his ability to play on the edge or inside. We feel a move inside would help the Spartans more than staying at tackle and with all members of the starting line back except for right guard Chris MaDonald, Fonoti will make the line a group of veterans instead of looking to break a new player in.
Spartans Offensive Line Breakdown
Possible Starting Line Up 2013
Dan France should be penciled in this spot at this time with Donavon Clark being the early back-up.
Jack Allen will get the early nod here over Blake Treadwell as Allen will move back from center.
Travis Jackson will return from injury and take back over the position he was excelling at before his injury in the Ohio State game.
Fou Fonoti can play tackle or guard but his more natural position at the next level is inside. This will give the Spartans a very strong right side.
Skyler Burkland continues to improve with each game and should really come into his own by the time the 2013 season opens if he can remain healthy.