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New football head coach Jonathan Smith excited about new roster, preparing for upcoming season

January 18, 2024
<p>Freshly minted Head Football Coach Jonathan Smith speaks at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center during a timeout of Michigan State's bout against Georgia Southern on Nov. 28, 2023. This was Coach Smith's first public appearance as Head Coach following his hire and press conference earlier that day.</p>

Freshly minted Head Football Coach Jonathan Smith speaks at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center during a timeout of Michigan State's bout against Georgia Southern on Nov. 28, 2023. This was Coach Smith's first public appearance as Head Coach following his hire and press conference earlier that day.

The new Michigan State men’s head football coach, Jonathan Smith, spoke at a football press conference on Thursday, Jan. 18, where he explained the importance of this season as a team — both players and coaching staff — where a lot of the team members are new to Michigan State, the steps he's taken so far as a coach and what it's been like adapting to the East Lansing environment. 

Since the opening of the transfer portal, Smith has made key additions offensively and defensively, and added more than 10 staff members to the team. 

“Eleven guys have joined the program and started to work out, we feel awesome about that group,” Smith said. “We were able to add to the roster on both sides, defensively at all three levels, D-Line, Linebacker and the secondary. Offensively, quarterback, (we) feel good there.”

Smith said he feels great about the quarterback, and he should. Since coming from Oregon State, Smith brought two key transfers along with him: quarterback Aidan Chiles — who came at a time with a gap in the roster — and offensive lineman Tanner Miller. Along with Chiles and Miller, Smith brought members of his coaching staff from Oregon State to fill in at Michigan State. 

“Aidan not only knows the offense, he knows the continuity and the culture,” Smith said. “Bringing the staff over here allows us to start faster in regard to how we operate, speaking the language.”  

Since coming to East Lansing, Smith has been getting himself involved with the environment and community, including going to some men’s basketball games. Since then, he has built a relationship with men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo.

 “Coach Izzo has continued to be a great advocate and mentor,” Smith said. “After games has been a bunch of fun for me and my family.”

Not only has Smith put effort into involving himself with the East Lansing community and has extended that effort out to Michigan State’s football alumni. Smith said that he had a meeting with around 200 “former players,” where he was able to introduce himself and “get to know their stories a little bit.”

Smith wasted no time in the short amount of time he has been with MSU to add staff that he is already familiar with. He finalized his coaching staff, including the 10 position coaches including a more recent hire, former alumni and Oregon State cornerback coach Demetrice Martin

“I’ve known (Demetrice) for a long time, all the way back from when I recruited his brother at Southern California,” Smith said. “Bringing in another alum (Demetrice) who knows this place, and is deeply passionate about this place, we’re excited for him to join us and help us out there in the secondary.”  

The work has only started for Smith, as the off-season and recruiting season is in his grasp and is not far away. To Smith, the season “doesn’t slow down,” but he is ready to start working again.

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