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MSU’s Williams lags in race to replace Langford

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Chicago — Delton Williams is set to rejoin the Michigan State football team Aug. 14, a week after the full squad reports, but the junior running back still has work to get back into the mix.

Coach Mark Dantonio said Thursday he’s happy to have Williams back after he was suspended following an incident on campus in March when he allegedly flashed a gun from his car at another motorist. Williams, however, is lagging in the race to replace Jeremy Langford as the No. 1 running back.

“He’s a good football player, but he’s missed the entire spring and entire summer of workouts, and he doesn’t come into camp in early August with everyone else,” Dantonio said during the first day of the Big Ten’s media days. “So he’s behind the eight-ball.”

Williams has gone through the student judicial process and is returning without a scholarship. Any additional punishment is still to be determined.

Asked if Williams has a chance to regain his scholarship, Dantonio said, “Down the road, but not for a year.”

Williams had 54 attempts for 316 yards and five touchdowns last season and brings back the most experience in the backfield. Sophomore Gerald Holmes has seen limited action, and Madre London was redshirted. True freshman LJ Scott also is expected to compete for time.

Instead of transferring, Dantonio said Williams was committed to staying at Michigan State — and the coach was committed to making the right choice for everyone.

“I think it was very important that everybody win to some degree in the process,” Dantonio said.

“There was retribution that had to be made, but it still provided an opportunity for a young man to stay at the school he wanted to stay at. I thought that was important. I think it needed to be his choice. If he opted out of the program it was going to be by his choice. I did not want to dismiss him. I did not want to hurt him in that endeavor.”

“It is very difficult when you recruit a person to look down the table and say, ‘OK this is what you’ve done for us, but now we’ve encountered a problem and you’re done.’ I’ve had to do it at times, and it is not a fun thing to do. I felt like he had that choice to make. He had a tough choice and that is where we are at.”

Gaines ruled eligible

Dantonio received some good news this week regarding freshman Kaleel Gaines, a defensive back from Frostproof, Florida.

Gaines had not been cleared by the NCAA because he was missing a core class from high school, but he completed it during the summer and Michigan State petitioned the NCAA to review the case.

It worked.

“He is in,” Dantonio said. “The NCAA ratified that his online class would represent his additional core class and he would be eligible.”

Burbridge ready

Dantonio said senior wide receiver Aaron Burbridge (foot) will be ready when camp opens next weekend.

The Spartans need a receiver to step up after the departures of Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery to the NFL, and Burbridge seems the most likely candidate. Dantonio did say, however, the former Farmington Hills Harrison High standout is behind in conditioning after missing most of the summer.

... Defensive tackle Craig Evans, a redshirt freshman who did not participate in spring practice because of “internal” issues, is down to 318 pounds, and Dantonio hopes the highly regarded prospect works to get on the field.

... This week, Michigan State shuffled offensive line recruits for next season when an offer was pulled from Gavin Cupp after the Leipsic, Ohio, native went to camp at Ohio State. The Spartans offered the spot to A.J. Arcuri of Olentangy, Ohio, and he accepted.

Dantonio was asked Thursday if he had a policy on verbal commits not visiting other schools.

“Recruiting is a very fluid situation,” he said. “I have a policy on communication.”