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Spring Practice No. 1: Player Quotes

<B><i>Senior safety Khari Willis will be relied upon as one of the team leaders in 2018.</b></i>
Senior safety Khari Willis will be relied upon as one of the team leaders in 2018.
Feb. 27, 2018

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Several Spartans met with the media inside the Skandalaris Football Center on Tuesday prior to Michigan State’s first spring practice.

Below are quotes from quarterback Brian Lewerke, safety Khari Willis, defensive lineman Raequan Williams, linebacker Joe Bachie and tight end Matt Sokol.

Junior quarterback Brian Lewerke

On if he’s seen anyone take a big step from winter conditioning to now…
I’ve seen guys like Josiah Scott. We have these catapult things we wear that kind of measures how many bursts and all that we get. Josiah’s been up there, Byron Bullough, Matt Sokol, all those guys. I know they’re not new but they’ve been putting a lot out there for conditioning so far.

On what was his main focus for improving on during the offseason…
I think timing, and eyes on my feet is one of the big things I’ve been working on. I noticed I kind of threw off balance a lot, so I'm working on that and making sure I can be more accurate and all that comes with your feet too, so working on that.

On if there’s still excitement from the Holiday Bowl win or if there’s a fresh start…
You've always got to take that win and kind of carry it on to the next season, so I think we’re doing that. Obviously it is a whole new year; we’ve got a new group of guys, some guys that left. We still have a lot of guys returning. We kind of got to use the momentum but remember that it’s a new season, and we’ve got a new focus.

 

 

On what the new focus is…
We’re trying to get back to where we were the past couple of years, Big Ten Championship, big-time bowl games, stuff like that.

On if he feels that some new leaders are emerging and guys are stepping into new roles…
I do. I think Khari Willis is one that I’ve noticed that’s stepped up a lot. I know he was a leader for us last year, but I can definitely tell he’s recognized his role and he’s trying to step up. I think he’s done a great job of it so far. So you know, guys like him, myself, Joe Bachie, all those guys are trying to step up and lead this team.

On the other quarterbacks behind him if Rocky Lombardi has the potential to step up and be a leader…
He can. Rocky’s a very vocal guy. He’s well-respected among all the guys. With his wrestling background he’s a tough guy so guys respect that. I can definitely see him as a guy that will step up in that role, too.

Senior safety Khari Willis

On improvements from last season, even though the defense finished in the Top 10…
Yeah, we still want to create positive momentum within each other and just trusting each other and just really, really want to get better, honestly. We’ve seen things on film throughout the year and after the year, after doing studies, coaches doing studies, looking for ways to get better and there’s a lot of them. So we’re going to go out and try to make the most of those opportunities today.

On what the theme and focus is coming into this year…
First, we want to get our young guys acclimated first. We want to stay positive with our team, make sure everybody’s on board. Finish out strong academically and as far as football goes, we always want to take strides toward winning the (Big Ten) East (Division) and that’s always been a mantra here.

On how it feels to have recognition from his teammates on being a leader…
I feel that it’s a blessing and it’s an honor just to be able to lead my teammates, just to be able to have them have confidence in me. To be able to go out and get things done for them, to be able to speak for them, to be able to fight for them and get out in front of them. So I think it’s an honor.

On how he plans to even more of a leader during spring practice…
Well, now we can get out on the field and we can put it to use. Working out and doing it in the workouts is good, but if I can find a way to do it just as effectively, if not more effectively, on the field, then that would be a plus.

On how exciting it is to start spring practice and start developing the chemistry for next year…
I’m very excited. I’m very excited to get back out, being able to play football. It came fast but we were ready for it, we were waiting on it.

On what it’s like to carry over so much of the defensive roster from last year…
We didn’t lose many pieces. I feel like it’s very helpful for us because we’re bringing back a lot of experience and I feel like we’ve got a lot of playmakers on our defense. We've got a couple spots where we've got to fill and I feel like we’ve got the guys that are capable to do it. So I’m excited to see who’s willing to step up and see exactly where we are right now.

On what workouts the team has been doing prior to practice…
We’ve been doing weight lifting, training, running. Going through Coach Mannie's "Fourth Quarter program," that's no joke (laughing).

Junior defensive tackle Raequan Williams

On the start of spring football…
We’re definitely excited to play football again. Spring ball is here, we’re ready to make plays. I tell you, we’re always going to bring that energy so we’re all ready.

On what he sees as the ceiling for this team this year…
We've got all our guys back. We've got, I mean what I heard, like 90-something percent of our production back, so it’s nice to have that coming back. Everybody’s excited about coming back and wants to win something big.

Junior linebacker Joe Bachie

On if he exceeded his own expectations last year…
I’d say no, you know. I’ve watched the film and I know I can get a lot better so that’s what I’m trying to do this spring and work with it. But the team, not many people saw us do what we did last year.

On being the first sophomore to get 100 tackles in a season since 2008 and if he’s talked to Greg Jones
Yeah, I’ve talked to him a couple times. He’s a great person and obviously he’s got a bunch of great things going on here that he did in the past. I know he’s a great guy to talk to and he’s definitely been a mentor.

Senior tight end Matt Sokol

On what the feeling is heading into spring…
I think with all the people we have coming back, a little bit bigger of a senior class. A lot of guys that have played young are really excited to just get better and capitalize on the things they did well at this season and improve – everyone has something they can get better at. As a team we’re just really excited to see where we can go and have all the experience come back, just seeing how far it can take us.

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