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Dantonio: Lippett switch to corner is no knock on Hicks

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — As well as Tony Lippett played at cornerback in Michigan State’s victory over Rutgers on Saturday, it shouldn’t be viewed as a negative for sophomore Darian Hicks, coach Mark Dantonio said.

Hicks had started all 10 games this season before this week, yielding to one of the Big Ten’s top receivers who hadn’t played on defense since he was a redshirt freshman in 2011.

“He played significant snaps in the football game,” Dantonio said on his weekly teleconference Sunday night. “We felt like when you’re a young sophomore we could take the pressure off him a little bit and let him play into the situation.

“The bottom line is being efficient out there and getting the job done. If we feel you’re getting to struggling a little bit we will take the pressure off. It does not mean he is not a good player. I think he is a very good player and you have to be to play at this level.”

Dantonio added the move also sparked Lippett, who gave the Spartans a bigger, more physical corner and freed Trae Waynes to guard Rutgers’ Leonte Carroo most of the game. It also helped potentially make Lippett more appealing to NFL scouts.

With one regular season game left next week at Penn State, Dantonio was unsure if fifth-year senior guard Travis Jackson would play. He was hurt on the first series Saturday and did not return. However, Dantonio said he expects Jackson to play again, meaning a return for a bowl game is likely.

Dantonio also said Lippett will join running back Jeremy Langford and safety Kurtis Drummond at the Senior Bowl. The participation of Drummond and Langford had already been announced.