Spring Football Update: Coach Dantonio Quotes

March 23, 2018

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Following Michigan State’s Pro Day on Friday and prior to the Spartans’ eighth practice of the spring, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio met with the media to talk about the players participating in Pro Day and also to give an update on the team.

Below is a transcript from the media briefing:

Opening statement…
Well, Pro Day is a little light this year with the number of players that are competing in it, but you know I think that’s a good thing if you’re coming back. We’ve got a lot of young players back, but I thought our guys did a nice job out here today, it was well represented by people and something to look forward to in the future.

We’ve had 28 players drafted here and numerous players sign as free agents over the course of these last 11 years, so there’s a path to the NFL from here and that’s what’s exciting for all of these guys. They’ve seen guys run this before and do these types of things so it was their time.

As far as the scrimmage – a relatively short scrimmage yesterday but we got something done. We practiced before the scrimmage actually too, so we were out there for quite a while. But going into practice eight today so there’s a lot to continue to do but we move forward.

On who’s stood out to him after seven practices…
We’ve got a lot of players back with a lot of experience, but some of the guys you haven’t seen as much – you know, I could talk about the guys that have played a lot, but some of the guys…you know, Shakur Brown had a pick yesterday, looking good. I think Noah Harvey is looking good for a guy that redshirted last year. I think those are names that probably nobody has really talked about much.



Xavier Henderson is impressive for what I would call a rookie – a guy that’s early enrolled – that’s been a big positive for us…Brandon Randle continues to improve as well as Tyriq Thompson is a much improved football player from what he’s been. He’s older, he knows what to do, he’s reacting instinctively. Byron Bullough has had a good spring thus far.

I’d pretty much have to go through each position to do something like this, but it’s interesting to watch the guys who haven’t repped as much. Rocky Lombardi is getting a lot of reps, as well as Theo Day. Theo’s opportunities yesterday for the first time in the scrimmage so a little bit of a learning process, but he’s got a lot of talent and he’s a pretty excellent quarterback for us as well as Rocky.

On Kalon Gervin
Yeah, Kalon is another guy. Got a lot of young players out there, so Kalon has looked very well, No. 18 shows up. He’s very instinctive, reacts very well, tackles effectively, plays well to the edge and he can really run so I think there’s no question that he’s going to be a player here for us.

On what he expects to see from Rocky Lombardi going into the spring game…
Execution and not making mistakes as a quarterback – the least amount of mistakes you make, the better we’re going to be as a group. And I think turnovers always play into that, so we’ve got to be better with the football. Rocky is a coach’s son. He’s a guy that works extremely hard, he’s very talented, I think his throwing motion has come a long way in a year. He’s still a freshman, so he’s done some things out there that have been very impressive.

On where this group is from a year ago…
There’s a lot of retention. There’s a lot of guys playing competitively as to whether they’re one’s or two’s or two’s or three’s, so that’s good – especially on the defensive side of the ball. We’ve tried to become as active as we can in terms of whether it’s tackling or playing off the blocks or doing those types of things, so that’s been a positive. I think a lot of retention but there’s still a ways to go. I think that’s the way it is with every football team and when you’re trying to go pass the bar that maybe you’ve set before that’s always a challenge.

On experiments he’s done with positions this spring…
Emmanuel Flowers is working wide receiver. He played wide out and defensive end in high school and so we moved him there. I think he’s found a place there, so he’s been fun to watch although he’s still learning.

These older wide receivers, or the young-older wide receivers, I should say, are all moving in the right direction. Our offensive line guys are all moving across the board in different positions.

On who will move into the center position…
Well when you lose a guy there like Brian Allen, you know you’re going to be searching a little bit. But Matt (Allen) is playing well. We’ve worked (Tyler) Higby in there, we’ve worked Jordan Reid in there. David Beedle has the ability to go in there. Blake Bueter, I think Blake Bueter has taken steps pretty much like Connor Kruse (former MSU walk-on lineman) had maybe. Not a scholarship guy, but he’s 306 pounds. He’s athletic and so he’s done some good things in there. Those guys are all sort of working things in there and one day they get the reps and one day they get slid to another position, so it’s been a positive. I still think that that position is, you know, you’ve got to play games.

On the defensive back competition with the incoming class being heavy in that category…
Well we have two of those guys here on campus in Kalon (Gervin) and X (Xavier Henderson) right now. With the three other guys coming in they’ll have opportunities. We’re going to play the best players and they are good athletes. When you have competition it breeds success.

On what he tells guys that don’t make it into the NFL…
I think everybody’s dream is to play professional football at whatever level. What’s great about all these guys that were working out here is they all have their degrees. And that’s been a big positive for a lot of our players. So they’ll have opportunities beyond football and what we’re hoping for is their success as individuals.

On what the draft streak means to the program…
One and done. I don’t know. I just take it one year at a time. I think we’ll have a guy drafted, but that’s up to other people, I can’t control that.

I think we’re one of five schools in the country that has had a draft pick for the last however many years it’s been, since the modern draft (1967). We’ve had a lot of guys go and play and we’ve had a lot of guys come out of here and be free agents. You see what Kirk Cousins is doing and Le’Veon Bell and so many other guys. Some of those guys are on their second contracts in the NFL and they were free agents.
Guys like Brian Hoyer and (Garrett) Celek and guys like them. It’s a good thing. This place gives you an opportunity to play at the highest level in this conference, in this division, in this conference. So when you have a chance to play at the highest level, the competition is stiff but it prepares you for the next step.

On what scouts are saying about Brian Allen
Well I just continually hear he’s a football player and he’s going to play. You know, he’s going to play a long time in that league. He’s just so athletic. He’s powerfully built. You know he’s a wrestler. He played the position, he could play guard and center, so he’s a multiple use guy and he understands football. One thing about what we do here is we play a pro-style offense. That does prepare them from a terminology standpoint.

On what he tells scouts about Gerald Holmes
I think Gerald is a very good football player. He played a lot of football for us in the last three years. He’s been the centerpiece guy, you know, when other guys have been out or when he’s been the starter. He’s had some very big games, he’s been a third-down back, he can catch the ball very well – you guys saw that today.

Physically, you know he’s big, run, powerful, jump, those types of things. I think what he’s looking for is an opportunity and given that opportunity he’s going to compare very favorably with the players that are in that league.

On what he wants to see sharpen when the pads are on…
I’d just like to see shock. I’d just like to see people snap. I just like to see suddenness and so we’re always trying to get that to the next level. Regardless of what that is, whether you’re throwing and catching the ball, running the ball, or tackling you want to do it with sudden bursts and so that’s what we’ll continue to look at.

On Lewerke coming back after being a starter last year…
It’s like I said to him yesterday, belief is such a big thing I think when you play football and do things. So you have got to have belief that you can come in and do the job. He won 10 games last year, I think threw for 20 touchdowns, ran for (559) yards, threw for 2500 (2,793). So there’s a foundation there for his success level and I think that he’ll be prepared for that next step. It’s important that everybody comes with him, but we’ve got a very confident quarterback who’s played in a lot of games with a lot of experience and has done great things for us.

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