Key positions are up for grabs at Michigan State

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — The first scrimmage is in the rear-view mirror.

Entering the second full week of camp, it's a time the separation in key position battles for Michigan State typically starts to happen. But it's also the time the monotony of camp can set in as veterans battle through and freshmen can sometimes get lost.

But as Michigan State continues to prepare for the opener Sept. 4 at Western Michigan, coach Mark Dantonio likes where his team stands.

"I feel good about our football team," he said Monday. "We lost Ed (Davis), but injuries are at a minimum. At the same time, these are dog days and you've got to come out and you've got to grind throughout the entire week. So we're gonna go hard, we're gonna go live … We're gonna try to put them in game situations like we always do."

What is clear is it should take all of camp to sort out some key position competitions.

There is little separation at running back between sophomore Gerald Holmes, redshirt freshman Madre London and freshman LJ Scott, while junior Delton Williams now jumps into the mix.

And at cornerback, fifth-year senior Arjen Colquhoun and junior Jermaine Edmondson are fighting to stay ahead of a group of freshmen. It's a competition that could get more crowded with the return of junior Darian Hicks. He has missed all of camp with mononucleosis, but Dantonio expects him back this week.

Dantonio still is trying to determine who will step in for Davis, with sophomores Chris Frey and Jon Reschke leading the way. At the other outside spot, sophomore transfer Drake Martinez has performed well behind fifth-year senior Darien Harris and freshman Andrew Dowell appears headed for significant playing time.

"He will play for us this year as a freshman," Dantonio said of Dowell.

Even in positions where the starters are set, there are players working to make the two-deep.

Wide receiver is set at the starting spots with seniors Aaron Burbridge and Macgarrett Kings Jr. as well as junior R.J. Shelton. Fifth-year seniors AJ Troup and DeAnthony Arnett seem certain to see playing time, but the other spot is up for grabs.

Determining a backup quarterback behind Connor Cook is also playing out with junior Tyler O'Connor and sophomore Damion Terry competing.

"Both those guys played very effectively in the scrimmage," Dantonio said.

Michigan State sophomore linebacker Jon Reschke.

And, redshirt freshman punter Jake Hartbarger continues to impress as he vies to be the starter ahead of O'Connor.

"I thought he has punted very well and he was on it," Dantonio said. "But Tyler O'Connor has punted the ball very effectively as well."

Extra points

The annual "Meet The Spartans" is from 5-8 Tuesday at Spartan Stadium.

Dantonio and members of the football team will be available for autographs on the concourse inside the stadium. Parking is free (Ramp 5; Lots 63W, 66A, 75, 79 and 62W), and the stadium gates (Gates B, C and J) open at 4:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Offensive players will be available for autographs from approximately 5:30-6:30 p.m. and defensive players from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Dantonio will be available from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

... Funeral arrangements are set for Michigan State Hall of Famer George Guerre, who died last Thursday at age 91.

Visitation is from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday at Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes East Chapel (1730 East Grand River, East Lansing).

The funeral is at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish (955 Alton, East Lansing).