Two NFL Legends Have Sons on Michigan State Athletics Rosters
Saturday afternoon, the Michigan State Spartans football team held its spring game scrimmage. Thanks to a beautiful, rainbow-arc touchdown pass from redshirt junior quarterback Noah Kim, much of the social media world was made aware of a legacy player on the Spartans roster.
Antonio Gates Jr., the son of legendary NFL tight end Antonio Gates, is a redshirt freshman for the Spartans and is looking to make his mark in Lansing.
Of course, those who follow the Spartans closest were already aware of Gates Jr.'s presence on the roster. After all, Gates Jr. was the consensus highest-rated wide receiver in the state of Michigan in the 2022 recruiting class, playing his high school ball at Fordson in Dearborn.
Gates Jr. isn't necessarily following in his father's footsteps though.
The elder Gates played his college ball at Kent State, where he only played basketball before giving the NFL a shot as a tight end with the then-San Diego Chargers. Gates's transition was so natural, NFL teams actually began to take into account basketball backgrounds at the position as Gates used basketball techniques to get open. He did so to the tune of 955 career receptions for 11,841 yards and an NFL record for tight ends 116 touchdowns. He'll likely be in the Hall of Fame just as soon as he's eligible in 2024.
Despite playing a different position and leaving the roundball to his father, at least formally, Gates Jr. will no doubt have a weight of pressure on him to deliver when his time comes.
Not to be outshined on the Spartan campus, however, another legacy athlete more closely tied to the state is also walking the halls in Lansing. This one plays basketball unlike his father: Nick Sanders, the son of Detroit Lions Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.
Nick Sanders is a 5'9" walk-on freshman shooting guard for the Spartans men's basketball team. He may not see the court as much due to his youth and size, but his presence is notable nonetheless.
Of course, Barry Sanders is one of, if not the greatest running backs in football history, college or professionally, despite his relatively short career.
While both of these legacy athletes are just beginning their respective collegiate careers, it'll be interesting to see them grow with the Spartans athletic programs.