The War Room: Go Inside #5 Michigan State Football
I get a lot of nuggets and information that alone are not big enough for a story. When I have a few that I can assemble together I will, and when I only have one or two I will post them as premium content on our Phalanx Forum board. So welcome to the War Room.
- When Mark Dantonio stepped to the microphone at the Breslin Center after the flimsy and in my opinion reckless journalism by ESPN and said, “I’m here tonight to say that any accusations of my handling of any complaints of sexual assault individually are completely false,” he made a major statement. He had to do it as much for recruiting as anything. But that was personal for him. ESPN called out his integrity and that matters to the Spartans head man. I think he handled it very well.
- Moments after the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, Doug Pederson their head coach told MMQB’s Peter King about his non-conservative play calling, “You learn if you play passive, if you play conservative, if you call plays conservatively, you are going to be 8-8, 9-7 every year.” I know that the MSU head coach and staff paid attention to that.
- The Spartans made the decision prior to the Northwestern game this year to open up and that will not change next year. The Eagles win impact Spartan football in many ways.
- There seems to be some real concern with fans after the loss of Trishton Jackson and Hunter Rison. I can tell you that there isn’t any concern internally.
- Rison leaving was NOT a loss. He couldn’t do punt returns or kick returns and he wasn’t able to play on the outside. The only spot he could play was the slot and he wasn’t good enough to play at MSU based on the roster.
- Trishton Jackson was a terrific person who struggled when the big lights were on. It is one thing to do well in practice or a scrimmage, but when the lights came on it was tough. He was well-liked by his teammates, but once he dropped what could have been the game-ending catch this year in Ann Arbor it was over. What confidence that remained was gone.
- The loss of Madre London stings. Super kid, a great student and a really good running back. He wants a chance to be the man and that wasn’t going to happen in East Lansing, but he should go with everyone’s best wishes. He had his degree and made everyone proud.
- When LJ Scott said after the Holiday Bowl, “With the hard work we put in, the blood, sweat, and tears with this team, I can’t leave them early,” people knew that London’s days in East Lansing were coming to an end. There is no animosity between the two, but it was done. He was the last transfer that I expected. They are a few more that could go, but none that I know to be imminent as I mentioned with the five I suggested prior to everyone leaving.
- Trenton Gillison and Elijah Collins are two freshman names you do not want to forget for next year. Both will get the chance to play early. They could be two critical nonstarters for this team in 2018.
- Speaking of 2018, no Spartan has had a better offseason than Khari Willis. Spartan Nation predicted the week of the Holiday Bowl that he would be a captain in 2018 and he has done nothing but cement that thought. He is a workout freak and a rising star.
- One key person in Spartan football said to me, “(Khari) Willis may have had the best offseason of anyone in years. He (is) a worker.”
- Despite “Sensational centric” media blathering Mark Dantonio had his six-year annual rollover contract today It now runs through 2024.
- Brian Lewerke has a real chance to leave for the NFL after the 2018 season. He is not there now, but few are. It is on the radar and that is an exciting opportunity for him.
- The spring and pre-summer camp workouts are going to be big for Lewerke. He has the attention of the NFL, most guys don’t get that, now they want to see him take the next step.
- Rocky Lombardi is very interesting. His emergence led to the departure of Messiah deWeaver. There is no mistaking that Brian Lewerke is the starter, but Rocky is putting the work in.
- I was told last week, “Rocky last season was a great kid and teammate. He was always warm and guys like him, but this offseason he has really come out of his shell.”
- Theo Day grew so much as a senior in high school. He is really spinning the ball and I was told this week, “MSU has three true NFL QB’s on the roster. We haven’t had that since Nick (Foles) and (Brian) Hoyer and Kirk Cousins.”
- 19 OH LB Luke Fulton has a Spartan offer and MSU is the team to beat on this star. I was told by a scout today, “He is a Joe Bachie/Chris Frey hybrid. He is a star.”
- I said at the end of the year that Cole Chewins would face a real competition for his job. That is 100% true, but that doesn’t mean he will lose his job. I was told that. “Cole is working harder than ever. He seems to be excited about the competition coming this spring and has really embraced it with the maturity of an upperclassman.”
- I spoke with a highly regarded Detroit Coach today. He said to me, “What is wrong with ESPN. It is out of control now. I can tell you that if any of the kids that we have sent to Michigan State in any sport was accused of a crime I would support them dealing with it. But if they kicked off one of my kids with no charges, I would tell them to get their ass out of my building. I stay neutral on schools with my players unless a school has done of our players wrongly. I am not neutral now, I am pissed off at ESPN. I know what that place is like in both sports and they aren’t out there letting these guys do what they want. You go ask Izzo or Dantonio if they ever had to discipline one of our kids. They have and we didn’t bad (talk) them.”
- I can tell you with 100% certainty that the ESPN reporting has hurt MSU. But it has not hurt them anywhere near as much as most think. One parent of a top-tier recruit who has visited in the last month told me today, “I respect the way they were so open to us. They didn’t act like it wasn’t out there. They knew it was and they took it head on. I am very comfortable with what they told me and their character. I can tell you that it will not matter in my son’s recruitment at all. I can also tell you that if anyone tries to trash Michigan State for that story we won’t be interested in them. They looked us in the eye and I trust them.”
- Chuck Bullough and his energy have made an immediate impact. I had a recruit tell me, “We had to get over to the game (Hoops at the Breslin) but he is intense. I think he would put on pads and go show us what to do. He is intense and would love to play for him. I have never been around someone so intense as him.”
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