Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell is expected to face stiff competition for the starting job this fall. (Dale G. Young/Detroit News)
East Lansing — After Michigan State defeated TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, coach Mark Dantonio hinted at some changes on offense.
Quarterback Andrew Maxwell struggled in his first season as the starter and in the bowl, redshirt freshman Connor Cook came in to engineer the winning drive.
As spring practice opens today, Dantonio said this time of year always lends itself to making some changes, and he expects each of his quarterbacks — Maxwell, Cook and redshirt freshman Tyler O'Connor — to get an equal opportunity to show what they have.
"Maxwell starts with the ones," Dantonio said Monday. "I think he deserves that based on his leadership, based on him having to take all the bullets that are thrown at him from the press and from everybody else involved, because there is a certain part of being a leader, being the quarterback that you have to be able to absorb those hits."
And though Dantonio says Maxwell is the No. 1, he wants a true evaluation, even letting his quarterbacks take hits in scrimmages.
"They will be live this year in scrimmage situations, and we're going to give people an opportunity to create," he said. "I think that's very important and critical for this football team that our quarterbacks be able to create at a high level."
Dantonio said three players are no longer with the team.
Linebacker and fullback TyQuan Hammock would have been a senior, but Dantonio said he has decided to graduate and pursue an internship outside football. Hammock, who played fullback in the bowl last season, never could break into the linebacker rotation.
Jamare Mills , a transfer from Blinn College, is working on academic issues, Dantonio said.
Senior offensive lineman Nate Klatt was disqualified medically because of concussions.
Three starters from last year's team will be limited by injuries this spring: center/guard Jack Allen (shoulder) will miss the entire spring; and linebacker Denicos Allen (foot) and cornerback Darqueze Dennard should see some action.
Sophomore linebacker Ed Davis also will be limited.
Center Travis Jackson (leg) and tackle Fou Fonoti (foot), however, are 100 percent.