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Preseason Camp Update: Spartans Practice in Full Pads for First Time

Aug. 6, 2014

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The first official practice of the 2014 season was held on Saturday - in shorts, helmets and jerseys.

But the unofficial beginning of preseason camp took place on Wednesday, as the Spartans practiced for the first time in full pads under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the high-60s.

Following the two-and-a-half hour workout, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio addressed the media to give an update on the team after the fifth practice overall of preseason camp.

"I think the key thing is that anytime you start to go to live practices and even in a game, anybody can be good for one play," Dantonio said. "You have to string them together; you have to play six, seven, 10 plays in row very well. You have to condition yourself for that mentally and physically. That's really where we're at right now. There are some guys doing some good things out here. There are some guys that need to make a play here, make a play there. Guys are competing in great practice."

In addition to Dantonio, five true freshmen - center Brian Allen, running back Madre London, defensive lineman Malik McDowell, defensive back Montae Nicholson and defensive lineman Enoch Smith Jr. - met with the media for the first time during preseason camp.



"First day, it was just crazy," said McDowell on putting the pads on for the first time. "I don't know to explain it, but it was a whole different game. Real fast, real physical - a whole new game."

The Spartans will return to the practice field Thursday for their sixth practice of preseason camp.


Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio:

On any standouts...
(Jeremy) Langford looked good today. I'm just watching practice, so it's hard to say. I think (Keith) Mumphery had a couple nice catches. I always look for if they have 50-50 catches down with somebody right on them. He made a couple of those today and that was positive. Guys have done that out here. You see that out here.

On excitement for the first day of pads...
I think we had a little bit of a statement today. This was one of our live days. We were out here for a while. We got some young players a lot of reps at the end of practice, so it's sort of a showtime scrimmage, an opportunity for them.

On any surprises...
The retention is pretty good. They seem like they're in condition. Guys come back and there's a lot of retention. Especially, I would say on our offensive side of the ball. As a wide receiver, we've got as much depth as we've had since we've been here. Quality-wise, they're receivers who can make big plays and that's exciting.

On the defensive line...
You tend to watch those (younger guys). You've got to be able to put together a string of plays and that's difficult. Our young players are not used to playing against guys their size, so it's sort of a give and take there. This is how you get better. This is really the first day in pads, so we've got another two weeks.

Malik McDowell is a talent. He's learning things daily. Like I said the other day, I think all of those guys have their moments. Enoch (Smith) made some plays today. I noticed him making plays out there. Those are the two guys that are, inside defensive tackle-wise, looking good. When I sit and go over the stuff with our coaches, we talk personnel and go over those younger players. They're very positive about all those guys. That's exciting. They are saying good things about all of them, so it's just a matter of who can come on against the stand.

On the running backs...
(Madre London) looked good. He broke a long run in the showtime (scrimmage). He runs behind his pads. (Gerald) Holmes is good. He had a nice run today. Delton Williams looked good too, physical. He's a downhill runner. I mean, guys are cracking. You have to evaluate the film and see what really happened out there, because there's a lot of pieces to the puzzle.

On Michael Geiger...
Mike Geiger's very accurate from wherever, so long as we continue to put him in there that he can continue. It's a great feeling. 55 (yards) is way out there, a lot of conditions need to be right, but he has that leg. He does.

Center Brian Allen

Thoughts on playing with your brother (Jack Allen)...
Yeah, he definitely helps me out. Getting the plays down, watching film, stuff like that. It is good to have someone I can turn to and ask questions but the whole offensive line is already kind of a brotherhood and I can ask anyone anything if I need anything.

Thoughts on offensive line being close...
Well, the freshmen have been here for four weeks. So all the offensive linemen are trying to reach out to the younger guys. They invite them over; get them out of the dorms, stuff like that. We have had a golf outing already. For our meetings and stuff we always get there early in the O-line room joking around, hanging out, and just building a better camaraderie. Us freshmen are trying to catch up with what the older guys already have.

On the transition from high school...
I wouldn't say it surprised me. Just getting used to it more or less, the speed and stuff like that. Yesterday, Monday we were in shells, just the linebackers coming down and falling. It's a lot faster than high school. The (All-American) Army game and stuff that was an eye-opening experience with how athletic these guys were. So I kind of had an idea coming in, it is definitely a lot different when you are in there playing.

Running back Madre London

On competition at running back...
It is always hard work. You always just have to work hard, we are all working hard. So it is really going to be hard to see who is going to be out. Whoever works hard consistently like coach says, doing it day in and day out, that is who will get the running job.

Coming into camp in shape... I came in with good shape. I passed the gasser test...I kept running before I came up here. I impressed the coaches when I was running

Defensive lineman Malik McDowell

On first full pads practice...
" First day, it was just crazy. I don't know to explain it, but it was a whole different game. Real fast, real physical - a whole new game."

On moving from defensive end to defensive tackle...
" I played it in high school. They asked me which one would I rather play and I said I'd do whatever for the team. Just got to put on a little weight, get a little stronger, and I'll be ready."

On his recruitment and decision to play for Michigan State "This is where I wanted to go, so this is where I stuck with. When I came here, I felt at home. It made me feel like a part of the team when I got here. I felt real comfortable here."

On going up against teammate Jack Allen...
Physicality, nastiness, whatever you can think of, he's got it."

Defensive back Montae Nicholson

On his final recruitment decision
It was Pitt, Florida State, and Michigan State. I chose Michigan State because I felt a bond with the coaches and a bond with East Lansing. Not knocking Pitt or Florida State by any means, I just felt more at home here at Michigan State."

On his visit to East Lansing...
What really sold it was the coaches. That's what I was looking for. After I took all my official visits, that's what it came down to, it was the little things. That was what put them ahead. I looked at it like the only thing I had to get over was the cold weather up here."

On rooming with and learning from Kurtis Drummond...
" I ask him some hard questions. Like I said, just trying to get the system down. If I'm watching film or something on my iPad, I'll ask him something. What did I do? How can I fix it? Just about everything really."

On his expectations coming into camp...
They told me I was going to be playing both ways. It doesn't really matter to me. I do believe I can learn both at the same time. They're taking things slow for me, which I appreciate. I'm trying to get the system down on defense first and I think once I get that down, we're going to start throwing some offense in there as well."

Defensive lineman Enoch Smith Jr.

Feelings on finally putting pads on today...
It felt really good. It's been awhile since I have had the opportunity to go full contact with other people. To come out and put on that green and white is just a real honor. It is something I have been dreaming about since the day I committed.

On how practices have been so far...
It has been going really good. We started off working out when we got here with coach (Ken) Mannie doing his program and transitioning to the field. It has been going really well for me. I like the transition, the guys there, the upperclassmen have been helping us out. (They're) trying to make the transition easier, giving us pointers here and there.

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