Aug. 7, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Fifth-year Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio welcomed 105 members of the 2011 team back to campus for physicals, compliance and drug education meetings, and a media workshop on Saturday, Aug. 6, as the Spartans opened preseason football camp. The first preseason practice is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 7 at 3 p.m.
Following a 6 a.m. wake-up call Sunday, the players will report to the indoor facility at the Duffy Daugherty Football Building for a series of running tests.
Over the next five days, the Spartans will practice in shorts for two days and shells for two more days before donning full pads for the first time on Thursday, Aug. 11.
"There's always a lot of excitement this time of year, with the opening preseason camp," Dantonio said. "Our focus is on staying healthy and team development, especially these first two weeks.
"It's always exciting to check the results of the Bottom Line test. It's a demanding exercise, so we're anxious to see where the players are at from a conditioning standpoint.
"This week, we'll install our base offense and defense, so it's important that we don't leave our freshmen behind in terms of knowledge. We'll install at a slow pace to guard against information overload. At the same time, our veterans haven't participated in organized workouts for three months, so it's equally important for them to get reconditioned to playing the game of football. Later this week, everyone will have to adjust to carrying their pads again.
"We'll use these first six days to build toward a scrimmage next Saturday, so we can evaluate just where we're at as a team," Dantonio continued. "We have a good feeling about this football team, and we think it can be a special one. A special chemistry existed last year, so we're hopeful that will continue. The players are ready to go, so we're looking forward to seeing just how far we've come since last season. We're heading into our fifth year as a coaching staff, so we know where we're going."
Prior to Saturday's team dinner, the players and coaches paused for a brief ceremony outside the southwest corner of Spartan Stadium to dedicate the 2010 Big Ten Championship plaque. Michigan State won a school-record 11 games last season and a share of its first Big Ten Championship in 20 years. Former fullback and current graduate assistant coach Josh Rouse joined members of the team's unity council in unveiling the championship plaque.
"With the dedication ceremony, there definitely was a sense of turning the page from last season," Dantonio said. "The plaque was installed at the stadium while the players were on break last week, so we wanted to make sure that they all saw it. It's important to recognize that significant achievement and know that the plaque will be there for a lifetime. It was something we were able to accomplish last year, but now it's time to build upon that. The foundation has been laid, so now it's time to keep pushing forward."
"The dedication ceremony absolutely marked that it's time to turn the page," fifth-year senior quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "The Big Ten Championship plaque is a tremendous symbol that will last forever. Now, the 2011 team has a chance to cement its own place in history."
Michigan State, ranked No. 17 in the Preseason USA TODAY Coaches' Poll, opens the 2011 season and home schedule against Youngstown State on Friday, Sept. 2, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. on BTN.