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

Aug. 12, 2015

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The Michigan State football team practiced in full pads for the first time during preseason camp on Wednesday under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the high-60s.

Although it was the fifth day of preseason camp, in many ways, it felt like the first official practice.

"First day in pads, an opportunity to come out and tackle a little bit, play things live," said MSU head coach Mark Dantonio. "That's what we tried to do today. It was a good practice this morning, a lot of guys were going full go.

"You're always going to get that (intensity) the first day in pads. People want to go hit. You almost have to tone it down a little bit in some ways. But it was a good, spirited practice. We did some situational live stuff like we always do, and did a lot of drill work as well."

Dantonio also addressed how the freshmen class has been doing during their first week as Spartans.

"Four days in, our older guys have a lot of retention, and our younger guys are coming and trying to figure their way out," he said. "The game speeded up again today on people, the young players, but that's part of the process, so we keep putting them in different situations that they're going to have to play in games.

"In shorts, things are moving fast, but (there's) no contact. Shells, same thing. And then when they put the pads on, it's just a little more live, a little bit more real. So things start to speed up and there's always something that's being added in practice, so the competition level gets a little bit stiffer because they're going against 2s or 1s or that type of thing. You have to see how they play against our best players as well. We try and roll them in there and give everyone opportunities as we go."

 

 

In addition to Dantonio, nine true freshmen -- cornerback Josh Butler, wide receiver Felton Davis III, linebacker Andrew Dowell, defensive back David Dowell, quarterback Brian Lewerke, running back LJ Scott, cornerback Tyson Smith, wide receiver Darrell Stewart Jr., and defensive end Raequan Williams -- met with the media for the first time wearing the Green and White.

"It was good to get back to football. We have been doing a lot of work in shorts, but it is good that things are back the way they should be," said Andrew Dowell about the first day in pads.

"It's definitely a lot faster than high school, that's one thing I've noticed," remarked Lewerke. "A lot of movement and stuff you have to know. Sometimes the coaches just kind of throw you in there and see how you do. (There's) a lot of movement that you have to get down quickly."

The Spartans will return to the practice field Thursday for their first two-a-day practice.

INJURY UPDATE: Linebacker Ed Davis suffers season-ending knee injury
Michigan State fifth-year senior linebacker Ed Davis suffered a season-ending knee injury midway through Wednesday's first preseason practice in full pads. A post-practice MRI confirmed the injury will require surgery.

"We're so disappointed for Ed Davis, and his presence in the lineup will be missed," said Dantonio. "Ed is a tremendous playmaker and a solid leader. He will still have an important role on this team, and he might have the opportunity to qualify for a sixth year of eligibility.

"Our program has faced adversity before, so now it's time to adopt the `next man up' mentality. Ed's season-ending injury provides others with an opportunity to have a positive impact on this team."

A preseason All-Big Ten selection, Davis led the team with 200 production points during the 2014 regular season and ranked fourth on the team with a career-high 58 tackles. He also finished third on the team in tackles for loss (12 for 48 yards) and sacks (seven for 33 yards).

QUOTABLE

Freshman cornerback Josh Butler

On first day in full pads...
Putting the pads on today was pretty fun. We got to hit each other and learn from our mistakes. We got to move fast, and the older guys helped us out a little bit. They told us what to do and how to do it. They are teaching us how to play corner and safety, and how the defense goes. It just felt good to be in pads, though.

On expectations for opening practice...
I had high expectations. This is the Big Ten, so you have to play hard and come ready every day. We came out here today and played hard.

On what it was about Michigan State that made him enroll...
What not about Michigan State? Michigan State is a great football program, great academically and is all around in a nice area. It is easy to get acclimated to the environment quickly.

On goals of freshman season...
I want to learn the system, work on my technique a lot, ask a lot of questions about how the system goes and put a little more weight on this year.

Freshman Wide Receiver Felton Davis III

On what it means to be a Spartan...
Being a Spartan is like family, brotherhood, and about faith. Being a Spartan means a lot to me. I'm glad I came up here.

On contributing to the team as a whole...
Right now I'm just playing my role. If that's being with the special teams or helping out with the third team, then I just play my role to help each person on the team get better.

On what the hardest transition to college football is...
The hardest transition is just the speed and the physicality of the game.

On what he admires from being around Coach Dantonio...
His passion about the game. His passion about us as a team as a whole. He really rubs off on a lot of players.

Freshman linebacker Andrew Dowell

On first day of work in pads...
It was good to get back to football. We have been doing a lot of work in shorts, but it is good that things are back the way they should be.

On coming to Michigan State with his brother (freshman defensive back David Dowell)...
It is always good to have family and familiar faces around that have come from the same area, like David (Dowell), (freshman running back) LJ (Scott), some of the other Ohio guys and myself have. It is a great opportunity, though, to be playing with my brother.

On coming to Michigan State from the state of Ohio...
We definitely hear that Ohio thing all of the time. It is where we are coming from, but it is great to be up here at Michigan State. This is where we wanted to be since the beginning of our recruiting process. It is a dream come true to be here with this group of guys. There is great senior leadership and has just been a great time so far.

On expectations for first year on campus...
I'm up here to compete. I leave the depth chart to the coaches. I just come out every day to give 100 percent and to learn from the seniors. They show us the way. I am rooming with (senior linebacker) Darien (Harris), and it has just been a great time.

Freshman defensive back David Dowell

On playing cornerback...
It is going really well right now. A lot of stuff we are working on right now is the same stuff that I did in high school. I am just working on technique and the older guys are doing a really good job of going over stuff.

On deciding to come to Michigan State...
A spot opened up on their end, and we jumped on it. MSU was always one of my top schools that I've wanted to come to, so this is a dream come true for us to be here.

On first day of practice...
It was good. (Senior wide receiver Macgarrett) Kings (Jr.) tried to jump over a defensive back already. So that was pretty crazy. Everyone was really physical, and the older guys are trying to push us. I am just trying to pick it up as much as possible.

On fitting into the system...
It is a pretty intense competition, but I feel pretty good about it. The older guys are doing a good job of helping us younger guys out. We are just trying to pick it up.

Freshman quarterback Brian Lewerke

On his impressions after the first few days of practice...
It's definitely a lot faster than high school, that's one thing I've noticed. A lot of movement and stuff you have to know. Sometimes the coaches just kind of throw you in there and see how you do. (There's) a lot of movement that you have to get down quickly.

On what he hopes to learn at MSU...
I'm trying to learn as much as I can about the offense is one of the main things. Relationships with other players is also a big thing. I just want to be prepared if they have to throw me in the game to be prepared to play.

On who is showing leadership on the team
I'd say in our class, Khari Willis and Darrell Stewart Jr. They've been really big with leadership. Darien Harris and Riley Bullough, obviously for [upperclassmen] have really stepped up and become leaders for us.

On if he would be put into a game...
Just trying to do what the coach asks me to do. Make sure I execute as well as I can and try to make the team better.

Freshman running back LJ Scott

On thoughts about the first days of practice...
Everything is new. It's definitely a huge transition from high school to college. Everything is much faster. We'll definitely get used to it.

On what the hardest transition is...
The pace honestly, how fast the tempo is. It's something you're not used to in high school. It changes a lot once you get here.

On what impact looking to make during the season...
To be a good teammate. Bring something to the table. The ability to do whatever I need to do.

Freshman cornerback Tyson Smith

On first day of practice...
It felt good to be back in action. In the offseason, coming out of high school, we do not do too much. We don't have spring ball, so it felt good to be back on the field and to get a feel for things again.

On expectations of first practice...
The game was a little bit faster. Football is still football, though. We are all the same, trying to do accomplish the same thing here, so you get a feel for what to expect.

On playing at Michigan State...
It is exciting, but I know it was also more of a job. We have to be bigger, faster and stronger now in order to compete. It doesn't matter what age you are when you are on the field. When you are on the field, you are on the field.

On what attracted him to Michigan State...
The defense is a big part of why I came here. It is big, physical and fast. They have had a pretty good defense over the past four or five years.

Freshman WR Darrell Stewart Jr.

On practice...
Just trying to focus on one thing, get through practice. Give these older guys a good look and play hard. This isn't anything new to me. I've been playing football all my life. Just another day, baby.

On the biggest transition...
Biggest transition from high school to college is running from different station to station. It has been tempo that's changed. Everything's so fast. All the guys are so focused and so serious. Everything is speed, speed.

On whether or not he's intimidated out on the practice field...
Not really. I've been playing football all my life. The only thing that really changed is the tempo. Football is football. So I feel normal.

On what it means to wear a Spartan jersey...
This is an honor, honestly. This school right here, this is a big opportunity for me to showcase my talent. And the guys I'm playing with, I love them like my brothers, so wearing the Spartan jersey is the best thing I could have done.

Freshman defensive lineman Raequan Williams

On first day of practice in pads...
It was nice putting pads back on and to be playing football. It was a lot of fun. There weren't any crazy stories from the first day. Just going up against the offensive line was a challenge.

On leaning on the upperclassmen to learn from...
I lean on (senior defensive lineman) Damon Knox a lot. He is a mentor of mine. When I am unsure about a play he is there to help me out. He is definitely there for me.

On expectations for freshman season...
I just wanted to come here and learn during the first year to see where I am at on the college level. I just want to get better.

On the difference from high school to college...
The mental process right now is the biggest difference. In a college practice, every play you have to know something to get the play right. It is a big mental process and it is fast. You have to get it quick.

On campus and being with the team...
Just being at this university is surreal. It is huge. I am not used to anything like this. It is all surreal right now. Hanging out with the team, and the way the guys interact and everything, it is fun. In the locker room it feels like a family.

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