East Lansing — Michigan State held its spring player draft Wednesday, and while there weren't any big surprises, the way the players were selected did offer some insight into how position battles are playing out.
The seniors for Saturday's kickoff at Spartan Stadium were split into Green and White teams before the draft, and each team's seniors began filling out their teams. In Michigan State's format, when one player is selected, that position group is completed before moving to another position.
For example, if an offensive lineman is taken first, then the rest of the offensive linemen are selected before moving on.
"It's a lot of fun because what you find out is what the players think of one another," said co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett, who will be leading the White team. "That's always interesting, and it feels good as a peer to see 'Hey, my peers think this of me, they drafted me here, or they drafted me there.'
"It's very interesting to see if they are thinking along the same line as the coaches as far as who is doing well."
The draft began with a little more fun than strategy.
Brian Allen, expected to be the starter at left guard as a sophomore, was taken first by the White team. Allen was on hand dressed in a suit and tie and joined coach Mark Dantonio at the podium, holding up a No. 1 Spartans jersey much like at the NFL draft. After that, left tackle Jack Conklin was taken.
Defensive linemen came next, and sophomore-to-be Malik McDowell went first. That wasn't much of a surprise, but the fact redshirt freshman defensive end Montez Sweat went ahead of sophomore end Demetrius Cooper was. There have been plenty of expectations with Cooper but Sweat has drawn praise several times this spring.
Available linebackers came next with junior Riley Bullough, the expected starter at middle linebacker, taken ahead of sophomores Shane Jones and Chris Frey. Safeties were next with sophomore Montae Nicholson going first, followed by Demetrious Cox.
The cornerback spot started with junior Jermaine Edmondson, followed by sophomore Darian Hicks and redshirt freshman Vayante Copeland. That trio has been battling with Cox and senior Arjen Colquhoun.
Wide receivers came next with junior R.J. Shelton first, then junior Monty Madaris. Redshirt freshman Madre London was the first running back selected, followed by sophomore Gerald Holmes.
Tight end was a small surprise with junior Jamal Lyles going ahead of junior Josiah Price. The quarterbacks were fairly obvious: Senior Connor Cook was on the White team, meaning junior Tyler O'Connor would play for the Green team.
"You always find something when the kids draft that maybe you didn't know," said first-year linebackers coach Mark Snyder, who will lead the Green team. "We have our opinions, but every year there is a surprise somewhere where somebody drafts somebody a little bit higher than you thought that they'd be drafted."
In addition to quarterback Damion Terry, there are several other players who are out with injuries — including senior wide receiver Aaron Burbridge, kicker Michael Geiger, offensive linemen Kodi Kieler and Dennis Finley, tight end Dylan Chmura, linebacker Jon Reschke and defensive back Jalen Watts-Jackson.
As usual, the teams are playing for a steak dinner, which goes to the winners. The losing team gets franks and beans.
"If you have any kind of pride at all, it's more about winning than the meal, it's more about you wanting to prove that your team is better and you have bragging rights," Barnett said. "That's bigger than the meal itself."
The seniors drafting the Green team were Burbridge, Shilique Calhoun, Colquhoun, Ed Davis, Macgarrett Kings Jr., Chris Laneaux, Trevon Pendleton, Andre Sims Jr., Michael Topolinski, AJ Troup, and RJ Williamson.
The White roster was picked by Cook, Jack Allen, DeAnthony Arnett, Donavon Clark, Darien Harris, Joel Heath, Damon Knox, Paul Lang, Lawrence Thomas, Tommy Vento and Philip-Michael Williams.
Green and White game
Kickoff: 2 p.m. Saturday, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing
Free youth clinic: Kids 8-12 meet from 10-11:30 a.m. on field behind the Duffy Daugherty Football Building.
Honorary captains: Basketball players Travis Trice (White) and Matt Costello (Green)