Michigan State football's Jake Hartbarger, Brandon Sowards granted a 6th year
EAST LANSING — Two Michigan State football players were granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA on Thursday.
Punter Jake Hartbarger and receiver Brandon Sowards will be back for the Spartans this fall after receiving injury waivers, according to a release from the school.
Hartbarger suffered a broken leg in the second game of 2018 at Arizona State and missed the rest of the season. The three-year starter from Waterville, Ohio – who is working on his master’s degree in marketing research – ranks seventh in MSU history at 42.1 yards per punt and 10th all-time in punts (186) and punting yards (7,833).
The Spartans were forced to use backup QB Rocky Lombardi against Arizona State after Hartbarger's injury, and used three others to punt for the remainder of the season.
Sowards missed all of 2017 with a torn knee ligament. He led the Spartans in punt returns in 2016 and 2018 and has 24 returns for 154 yards in his MSU career. The Wyandotte native, who is pursuing his master’s degree in human resources and labor relations, caught a career-high 18 passes for 201 yards in 13 games last season, four starts.
Both Hartbarger and Sowards were allowed to play in MSU's spring game on April 13 because it was still the same academic year as the 2018 football season.