Friday, February 28, 2020

Mark Dantonio speaks on the NCAA Transfer Portal as MSU prepares for Penn State

October 23, 2019
MSU head coach Mark Dantonio during the game against Northwestern at Ryan field on September 21, 2019. MSU defeated Northwestern 31-10.
MSU head coach Mark Dantonio during the game against Northwestern at Ryan field on September 21, 2019. MSU defeated Northwestern 31-10. —
Photo by Connor Desilets | The State News

Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantonio took to the podium for the first time since the latest mass exodus of Spartan football players this past week, who decided to enter their names into the NCAA Transfer Portal.

Dantonio decided to take the high road.

“There are a lot of young men in the transfer portal right now. You break it up by schools, you can break it up by position, you can break it up by year and it all sort of sorts itself out as it goes in a lot of different directions," Dantonio said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. "I think it's the new norm, sad to say, I think it's the new norm that we’ll see in college football. I think it's a little bit — there’s a different reason for everybody making these decisions. But, I think in the end it's about opportunity to play in a lot of ways. It's about patience at times for younger players, or for older players it’s about trying to move forward with their careers."

Wideouts Weston Bridges and Cam Chambers, as well tight end Noah Davis entered the portal this week to increase the growing list at Michigan State to six players this season. The trio joined linebacker Brandon Bouyer-Randle, as well as running backs Connor Heyward and La'Darius Jefferson.

"I had individual talks with every person that decided to go in there and try to put the other side of the story there," Dantonio said. "My take on it is always going to be take the high road, wish the best for those individuals as they move forward in their football careers and then try to make ourselves better to be quite honest with you. When a scholarship opens up, you try to make yourself better. You try to improve your quality of play. Some guys playing for us are looking for bigger roles. Some guys who have not played for us are looking for opportunity to play elsewhere and that's the way it has gone."

Tuesday was Dantonio's first time in front of media since the Spartans' 38-0 loss at Wisconsin two weeks ago. The Spartans were off last week. MSU will look to get its season back on track when it hosts No. 6 Penn State on Oct. 26 (3:30 p.m., ABC). Only now, the Spartans will have to do it shorthanded.

“ … It's one of those things that is probably here to stay and we have to deal with it as a head football coach and as a staff,” Dantonio said.  

Depth Chart Notes:

Following Michigan State's off week, the Spartans released their new depth chart with zero changes at starting positions. However, there were numerous depth player moves on both sides of the ball.

Redshirt freshman Javez Alexander made his first appearance on a depth chart this season as the backup for WR Cody White.

Redshirt junior AJ Arcuri made his return to Michigan State's depth chart as the backup for Tyler Higby at left tackle. That move pushed true freshman Devontae Dobbs down to third string at that position.

“AJ is practicing actively, so he’s good to go," Dantonio said.

Nick Samac moved ahead of Blake Bueter as the backup center behind Matt Allen, while Bueter slides behind Matt Carrick at right guard. Redshirt sophomore Mustafa Khaleefah is now listed as the backup right tackle behind Jordan Reid.

A big change came at tight end with the departure of Noah Davis to the NCAA transfer portal. Behind Matt Dotson and Matt Seybert is redshirt freshman Parks Gissinger — who switched over from defensive end this past offseason — and a new addition to the offense, true freshman Adam Berghorst, who has been listed as a depth defensive end all season.

Michael Fletcher made his first appearance of Michigan State's depth chart, listed as the third-string defensive end behind Jacub Panasiuk and Drew Beesley.

“Michael Fletcher has been out. He had a foot injury, so he’s back in pads now," Dantonio said. "He was back last week as well. He was a guy that looked exciting initially in camp, so he’s back now. How much he’ll play will depend on how well he practices this week, that type of thing, depth issues and things of that nature. He will be active on the sidelines and he’ll travel.” 

One guy who's still missing is offensive lineman Kevin Jarvis. Following his injury against Arizona State, Dantonio said that he could possibly make his return against the Nittany Lions, or early November. When asked about his status, Dantonio declined to give an update. Dantonio said WR Jalen Nailor, who's been out with a lower leg injury since the Spartans' game against Tulsa, is still on track to return before the end of the season.

B1G Break No. 2

The Spartans will be off next week before they finish up their final stretch of the regular season schedule.

Michigan State hosts Illinois on Nov. 9 before traveling to Ann Arbor to take on No. 19 Michigan on Nov 16. MSU will then head out to New Jersey for its final road game against Rutgers on Nov. 23, before concluding the regular season with a senior day game against Maryland on Nov. 30.

Sitting at 4-3 (2-2 Big Ten), the Spartans need two more wins to become bowl eligible for the 12th time under Mark Dantonio.

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