Mark Dantonio Updates the Spartan Nation on Where the Team is and many of the new Freshman!
A: The time of year, coming off of camps, we’ve had a lot of people through Michigan State. I probably would imagine close to 1500-1600 young people on campus, just giving them the Michigan State experience in some way that should impact their lives. We’ve been working other camps, sound mind sound body, things we’ve been doing. Players are doing a great job I think, from what I understand, working out. Chemistry is excellent. Every time I see players and ask them how everybody’s work is it’s been very, very positive. We’re looking forward to 2013.
Q: Have you seen any of those little things sticking out to you, like guys spending extra time in the film room?
A: I think there’s a sense of…I don’t wanna say a sense of urgency, that’s not the word I’d use…but I think a sense of resolve among our football team right now. I think that’s a good thing. Seeing extra guys working on their own. We have a “bel cal” I think in each, or a number of them, in each position. A group that sort of takes control of a position group whether it’s in film or whether it’s on the field working our offensive lines. Working a lot on the field, I know our quarterbacks are feeling a lot. I know our wide receivers are catching the ball every single day. Guys that are nicked up are doing a great job at getting healed up, seems like. So we’ll see how it all goes, how it all shakes out. I’ve been very pleased with the way our players have reacted really since coming back from bowl camp.
Q: Do you feel like those guys that have missed spring, as a group, are gonna be back to or close to 100% or do you think it will be…
A: Back to or close to depending on the guy.
Q: Has there been anything else that’s come up that’s been needed to be addressed or has it been pretty…
A: Pretty standard. Everybody’s nicked up a little bit at times throughout or trying to get something addressed. Nothing that’s gonna hold anybody out.
Q: Have you seen a difference from the previous two years of 11 men in feeling really good about yourselves coming off a season where you guys didn’t necessarily perform the way you wanted?
A: I sense a sense of resolve. Our games were extremely close and so it wasn’t like we were out of games. The games came down to the end of the game, the last play. It wasn’t just the last minute, it was the last play on a lot of them. So there’s just a sense of “find those inches” as we’ve talked about many times in here. There’s a sense of resolve to what do we have to do to get better, to get over the hump. Regardless of what it is, I think that’s occurring on our football team right now. A little edge to us, which is good.
Q: What do you wanna see when you first get back? What’s the important thing?
A: When I first come back I wanna see everybody report back in shape with an attitude and an edge, comraderie. I wanna see our seniors lead and step out. It’s not easy to lead, especially among your peers. It takes a special person to do that. Sometimes you have to call people out when you lead. Sometimes it’s not easy because they’re your peers and your friends. But that’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for leadership and guys that come in here with an edge to them and in great shape. Then obviously what we have to do is stay healthy and get down to business.
Q: You have some new freshmen that are already on campus. Obviously the NCAA rules keep you, but them stopping in on their own…they can do that. Give me some thoughts.
A: Well, I saw Dylan Chmura today. He won the disk and the shot in the state of Wisconsin. He looks about ½” shorter than his dad now. He’s about 250 lbs, looks extremely fit. Jon Reschke same thing, weighing 235 lbs. These are incoming freshmen. Everybody asks, Hey how are these guys doing, to our players. And “He can really run”. RJ Shelton is here. Same type of thing, really can run. Noah Jones just got here, just saw him…I think it was yesterday. All these days are running sort of concurrently. But just saw him I think yesterday. He looks good, 270 lbs. or something like that. So ready to go. But they’re freshmen. They need to transition. There’s a big transition. This is their time to learn who’s who. Learn the coach from the trainer, the trainer from the equipment guy. Learn who their teammates are and find their way a little bit around this campus. That’s all a part of it.
Q: Outside of the running back and kicker, would you prefer to redshirt all of them if you could? Is that the general philosophy?
A: I think when you’re redshirting players it means that you have depth and experience at that particular position. We’ve been fortunate to have that and have not played many guys these last two years. I don’t know if that will be the case this year, just with things shaking out as they are. But we’ll see. It’s a lot easier to talk about those guys when you see them play. They gotta play. They gotta play at a high level.
Q: Might Reschke and (Shane) Jones be more inclined to play, maybe a little bit sooner, because of the level of experience at linebacker?
A: I think those guys… If we move Riley (Bullough) over to tailback and he stays at tailback, which is the plan right now going into the fall at least the first two weeks of summer camp, then we’ll evaluate. We don’t like to backup a senior with a senior. So that means that Jones or Jon Reschke is the immediate backup. Kyler Elsworth can play in there certainly, but he’s a senior. So that happens immediately for them. We’re only bringing in two linebackers, so they’ll get in the mix and be a part of this. They’ll have an opportunity to play. They’re two very, very good players. Two of the best linebackers probably in their respective states really. So that’s a positive. Linebacker is a position that we need to address. We’re addressing that in recruiting because we are gonna lose four seniors out of that group, four very good players.