Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Gridders take the field for spring practice

March 21, 2002

The MSU football team’s spring season sprung into action Wednesday with the first of 15 practices.

The Spartans took the field for the first time since their 44-35 win against Fresno State at the Silicon Valley Football Classic on Dec. 31.

Junior quarterback Jeff Smoker said even though it ran smoothly, he hates practicing in spring because the season-opener isn’t until Aug. 31 against Eastern Michigan at Spartan Stadium.

“As far as being the first day, it was a pretty good practice and it went well,” Smoker said. “It’s definitely a tease, as much as you enjoy playing football this is the worst time of year to practice.

“There’s nothing to practice for, there’s no opponent. You’re just practicing against yourself to get better.”

Smoker and the Spartans will have to make it through 13 more similar practices before participating in anything that resembles a real game. The team’s annual spring scrimmage is on April 13. This year’s scrimmage will be played at Okemos High School since natural turf is being planted in Spartan Stadium.

With the early departure of tailback T.J. Duckett to the NFL, senior tailback Dawan Moss steps in as the spring season’s starter.

Moss, who mostly played fullback last season, said he started to prepare differently for this season after Duckett made his announcement.

“When I found out Duckett was finally going pro I thought this was my chance,” Moss said. “I shed a few pounds and have been working out, I cut back on my eating.”

Wednesday’s practice saw the return of three Spartans. Sophomore free safety Jason Harmon and senior cornerbacks Cedric Henry and DeMario Suggs.

Henry was declared academically ineligible last fall, but is back on the roster. He is slated as a starter in the Spartan’s secondary.

“I don’t really have any words for it,” Henry said. “I was just ready.”

Henry declined to commit on his ineligibility.

“I don’t even want to get into that,” he said. “I’m just happy that I’m in the position, (and) had a chance to come back. I’m here and just going to make the best of it. Leave the past in the past and look toward the future.”

Henry, who is in his final year of eligibility, said he has seven more classes to take and is scheduled to graduate next May.

After losing Henry last fall, the Spartans secondary lost Suggs and Harmon to broken ankles in consecutive practices. Both players were lost during noncontact drills.

“I guess you could kind of say it was a blessing in disguise because all the guys that got injured are coming back, which makes our team a lot stronger,” Suggs said. “The secondary is going to be one of the strong points of the team.

“Since I’ve been here this is probably one of the strongest secondaries we’ve ever had. I’m just pleased and happy to be a part of it.”

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