Michigan State's Bennie Fowler is Learning to be His Own Man


Bennie Fowler ready to step into Mark Dell’s shoes.


Bennie Fowler is turning heads this spring.


After a red-shirt freshman season which saw him collect 573 all-purpose yards (sixth best on team), he is being looked at by the coaching staff as a big piece of the offensive puzzle. He is a weapon as a receiver – in terms of both catching the ball and running reverses – and a kick returner. He was second on the team with 336 kick return yards.


He also showed flashes of greatness along the way, such as catching a 49-yard touchdown pass against Alabama in the Capital One Bowl. His biggest moment in a Spartans uniform was arguably against Northwestern, when he saw increased playing time due to a Keshawn Martin injury. Fowler scored on a 22-yard reverse and then caught a 21-yard pass from punter Aaron Bates, eventually slimming the Wildcats’ lead to three points and putting MSU in prime position for a comeback.


With players Martin, Keith Nichol and B.J. Cunningham ready to roar in their senior seasons, Fowler and Tony Lippett are the young guys at the position. With the way the coaches have talked about the receiving corps, the Spartans’ offense looks like it will be even more dangerous than it was in 2010.


“Coach (Terrence) Samuels is still on me, pushing me technique-wise,” Fowler said with a grin. “I’m not getting too ahead of myself. I still think I have a lot of things to work on and I’m still learning a lot from Keshawn and B.J. and Keith. I’m slowly but surely getting there.


“(I think I’m best) at stretching the field. I can do kick returns, be a possession receiver … whatever the team needs me to do I can do, but definitely stretching the field,” he said.


With the returning seniors lining up on the edges, Fowler seems to have found himself a solid spot to consistently come in and be on the field as the fourth receiver – at least in terms of age. When it comes to his maturity, he is a very well-versed player and person. He doesn’t get too ahead of himself when others build him up, nor does he let himself lose sight on what is important to the team.


Fowler continues to get better as each practice comes and goes. He has actually been working on honing his skills with ex-MSU receiver Mark Dell, who was a senior last season. Fowler said that he and Dell practice with one another and play catch when practice isn’t taking place, perfecting his hand-eye coordination and becoming a better receiver.


“(Dell) stands on me ‘cause he sees something in me,” Fowler said, alluding to the fact that Dell really didn’t break out until his senior season in green and white. “He’s always on me about that, making sure I’m preparing for every year like it’s my senior year. He said that’s the approach I should take, as if every snap was my last.”

If you ask Fowler about the depth of the team, most notably in terms of wide receivers, he gets excited. It makes him work harder every day because he doesn’t want to get lost in the shuffle. He is also admired by all of his teammates, saying that at the end of the day each player in that locker room is part of a team. He understands that football is a sport driven by each player getting along with the next and having that special feeling of togetherness.


But if you press him on whether Lippett can cover him one-on-one between the hash marks, his response is what you would expect from a competitive athlete.


“I’m not gonna give (Lippett) that,” Fowler says, smiling with all the confidence in the world.