The Michigan State coaching staff experienced some shake-ups after a rough 2012 season. Offensive coordinator Dan Roushar and defensive line coach Ted Gill departed, while Jim Bollman (co-offensive coordinator) and Ron Burton (defensive line coach) each joined Mark Dantonio’s staff over the offseason.
Demetrius Cooper, a class of 2013 MSU recruit, recently had the chance to meet and speak at length with Burton. Cooper took time to talk with Hondo S. Carpenter Sr. on Spartan Nation Radio about the experience, and had nothing but praise for the new coach. Just like Devyn Salmon did, a fellow 2013 DL recruit.
Demetrius Cooper is an exciting prospect with a load of potential. A senior at Julian High School in Illinois, Cooper will soon be bringing his talents to East Lansing. The Chicago native possesses outstanding pass rush skills that have allowed Cooper to distinguish himself as a top-notch recruit, despite missing nearly all of his junior season.
The 6’5 220 pound defensive end has “great technique getting off the ball” and is a “real speed rusher” according to his high school coach, Jason Richardson. Cooper has also been called a “shorter William Gholston” by some. The young end will be a major part of the Spartan defensive line in the coming years, so it was very important for Cooper and the new defensive line coach to get along. From the moment the two met, it was a perfect match.
Hired on February 8, Burton is charged with continuing Michigan State’s tradition of developing standout defensive linemen. The former Air Force coach started his quest off well by visiting Cooper at his home in Chicago recently. As soon as Burton walked in the door, he made “greatest impression ever,” according to Cooper. “It was very good meeting, he’s a very good guy,” Cooper said. “He ate with my family — my mom cooked for him. It was really fun. I really had a good experience…it was very exciting to meet him for the first time.”
Many coaches often act too busy and leave a bad impression by cutting a recruiting visit short. Burton was completely the opposite. He was totally at ease and did not rush at all. “The way he came in, it seemed like he wanted to stay the night with me. He came in, he was comfortable and he met the whole family, Cooper said. “He wasn’t in a rush to do anything.”
In visiting with Cooper, Burton was able to make a deep connection with the youngster. The 21-year veteran coach dove into personal topics, not limiting the conversation to small talk about the weather. Many coaches don’t bother to try to get to know the recruit as a person rather than as just a football player. Burton again distinguished himself as different from the rest. “He sat down and talked with me and asked me about my personal life and he told me about his personal life and why he coaches and things he does at his home,” Cooper stated. The youngster seemed quite impressed that Burton. Cooper could not believe that his new coach was willing to go beyond the normal coach-player conversation in only the first time meeting him.
The discussion also included Burton’s coaching philosophy, which will differ from Gill’s. “Coming in as a new coach…and for a new team, he said position-wise and playing-wise, everything is open,” Cooper explained. “He told me when he first got on campus and talked to his defensive line group…he had everyone lined up in front of him, nobody behind him or in front of him. Everybody was lined up in a straight across line. The spots are open — everyone has to come in and work. That meant something to me as an incoming freshman.”
Cooper appreciates the fact that competition is wide open and that he could be a major contributor in his first season. “With other coaches who have juniors and seniors in front, they probably lean towards them instead of a freshman coming in,” Cooper said. “You might have to sit behind them for a year or two. For me, he told me if I come and put the work in, I’ll have a higher chance to come in and play early, and that meant a lot to me.”
New defensive line coach Ron Burton is already receiving rave reviews. High marks from Demetrius Cooper can certainly be taken as high praise, as the talented young prospect will be an integral part of the Spartan defensive line in the years to come. Thus far, Burton and Cooper seem to be a perfect match. If Burton can form connections with the rest of the Michigan State defensive linemen, his mission to continue MSU’s tradition of excellence at the position will be that much easier.