Tuesday, January 25, 2022

U gets new uniforms

March 20, 2002
Junior quarterback Jeff Smoker, left, models MSU’s new home jersey, while junior wide receiver Charles Rogers, right, models the Spartan’s new road uniform. MSU begins spring practice today at 4:30 p.m. at the Duffy Daugherty Football Building. The fifteen spring practices culminate with the annual spring scrimmage on April 13. —

The Spartan chariot won’t be the only throwback to the days of ancient gladiators this fall at Spartan Stadium.

The MSU football team unveiled its newly designed uniforms Tuesday, which are modeled after ancient Spartan gladiators. They were modeled a day before MSU’s first spring practice.

While the shoulders of the new uniforms resemble ancient history, the uniforms also incorporate modern aspects of MSU’s look.

The “State” logo sported by the MSU men’s basketball team is on the front of the jersey while the block “S” remains on the helmet. The silhouette of the Spartan helmet logo is on the front left thigh.

Head coach Bobby Williams said he wanted to include all three MSU logos.

“They wanted to take the old ancient Spartan warrior uniform where they had the gladiator suit and incorporate a little bit of the present-day Michigan State Spartan uniform and put it all together in one uniform,” he said. “So you have a little bit of the past, present and future in one uniform.

“I thought the design came out really well. We were all really excited when we saw it.”

The new look was approved by Williams after Nike took his suggestions and presented different designs to him. Junior quarterback Jeff Smoker modeled the home jersey at Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center on Tuesday, while junior wide receiver Charles Rogers showed off the away jersey.

“It’s a new jersey, new era and new team, too,” Rogers said. “Hopefully we can take it to the next level on the field too.”

MSU begins its new era at 4:30 p.m. today during its first of 15 spring practices. The practices culminate with the annual spring scrimmage at 1 p.m. on April 13. This year’s spring game will be played at Okemos High School since natural turf is being put into Spartan Stadium.

After a nine-week winter strength and conditioning program, the Spartans enter spring ball with a 63-man roster. An additional 30 players will participate in spring practice.

“This is the most numbers we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Williams said. “This is the best depth we’ve had on our football team across the board.”

Depth will be crucial for MSU this season after it lost more than 10 players to season-ending injuries last season. While MSU doesn’t enter this spring with a quarterback controversy, it does have three in its spring depth chart and one in its recruiting class.

“If you look at what happened to us last year, you can never have enough quarterbacks,” Williams said.

The backfield will be without star tailback T.J. Duckett for the first time since the 1999 season. Senior tailback Dawan Moss enters this spring as the starter.

Another area in which MSU was vulnerable to injury last year was its secondary. Senior cornerback DeMario Suggs and sophomore free safety Jason Harmon fell to broken ankles, while junior tailback Tyrell Dortch broke his leg filling in at cornerback.

Both Suggs and Harmon are ready for spring practice, but Dortch is still rehabilitating. Williams said Dortch should be ready by the end of the semester or early summer. The secondary will also get a boost with the return of senior cornerback Cedric Henry, who was academically ineligible last season.

Wide receiver Marcus Waters, another academically ineligible Spartan, is in school but will not participate in spring practice.

“I’m happy about the total number of secondary players we have back,” Williams said. “We have a lot of quality defensive backs with a lot of experience.”

Another area returning in its entirety is the offensive line. MSU also will audition for a new punter, snapper, holder and kick returners this spring since most of those positions were held by seniors last season.

But Williams’ biggest concern is still making it out of the spring injury-free.

“As a coach, you always worry about injuries,” Williams said. “We look at what happened last fall when we had injuries, the next guy has to be ready to step in.”


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