Football riding on confidence from turnaround 2017 season
As a seemingly long winter begins to come to an end, head coach Mark Dantonio and the Spartans kicked off their first official spring practice Tuesday after coming off a 10-3 record in the 2017 season.
With the first practice comes with new coaching staff and returners from last season, who look to add another satisfying season to their record.
“Our goal is always trying to get a little bit better, I think, as a group through every improving individual,” Dantonio said. “We have a lot of young players coming back, so we’re excited about it.”
After losing 12 players last season, the team went on to sign 21 players to bring into the program.
Senior wide receiver Felton Davis III said he wants to bring back the championships for the Spartans in his senior year now that the team’s confidence levels grew after last season. With new staff heading into the new season, he said he feels they can push them toward that goal, but it will involve a lot of work.
“Yeah, it gives you confidence, but you know it’s never easy to achieve stuff like that being an all-type of talent that is out here in this Big Ten,” Davis said. “It’s really not that easy, but you have to work for it.”
Before its double-digit winning record, the team came out the season before with a 3-9 record it was able to turn around just in one season. This made Davis’ confidence go “sky-high” heading into the new season.
Junior quarterback Brian Lewerke said he believes the team can bring the energy from this season heading into the new season with some familiar faces returning. He said his teammates will be able to step up without former players, such as Chris Frey and Brian Allen.
“You've always got to take that win (the Holiday Bowl) and kind of carry it on into the next season,” Lewerke said. “Obviously, it is a whole new year, we have a new group of guys, some guys that left and we still have a lot of guys returning, so you kind of have to use the momentum but also remember that it’s a new season, we've got a new focus.”
Lewerke said the focus is bringing back the winning culture familiar to the Spartans, the culture of bringing home titles and bowl wins to mark their achievements during the season.
As for Dantonio, he said he can count on his team members to continue to work hard in order to achieve the things they want and continue to step up when needed.
“I hope we always feel like we have to earn things around here,” Dantonio said. “We just have to try to continue to do things right on the field, off the field, in the classroom, and that's what we've got to do.”