East Lansing — Following last weekend's scrimmage, Michigan State's depth chart is starting to sort itself out.
Entering camp, determining a starting tailback and coming up with a pair of starting corners were at the top of the list. On Monday, the big news was in the offensive backfield.
Coach Mark Dantonio said redshirt freshman Madre London is the No. 1 at tailback, taking a slight lead over sophomore Gerald Holmes and freshman LJ Scott.
"They're all sort of grouped in there, but I thought London had a great scrimmage," Dantonio said, breaking down the group that is working to replace Jeremy Langford. "Gerald is probably ahead of LJ in terms of knowing what to do, but LJ makes plays and looks very good out there.
"Then Delton Williams is getting back into the flow of it. He came in (to camp) on the 14th and missed a lot of time (suspended), so there's timing things and little things. He's gotta get himself back in shape ... I think we have four very good running backs."
While Williams has the most experience, London has impressed coaches and teammates.
"Madre has been having a great camp," sophomore safety Montae Nicholson said. "Our running back competition has been fierce, especially with Delton Williams back. LJ also is competing. ... Playing against those guys, you have to step back sometimes and say, 'That was a good play.' "
Michigan State officials didn't release any stats from the scrimmage, but London said he broke runs of 70 and 40 yards. The 40-yard run went for a touchdown.
Which begged the question, did London get caught from behind?
"I didn't really get caught from behind," London said, smiling. "He had an angle."
That player with the angle was Nicholson, a noted speedster who spends his spare time on the track team.
In the quest to replace cornerback Trae Waynes (Vikings), junior Demetrious Cox has locked down one side while fifth-year senior Arjen Colquhoun has been in good shape since spring.
But, Colquhoun suffered an undisclosed injury and junior Darian Hicks is working back from mononucleosis, which has allowed some movement.
Co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett said his No. 1 corners are Cox and redshirt freshman Vayante Copeland.
"I think Vayante has had a pretty good camp," Barnett said. "Unfortunately Arjen is down and Darian is down, but expect to get those guys, so that's a good thing."
Barnett also said nothing is set in stone, adding that junior Jermaine Edmondson as well as some of the true freshman, Josh Butler and David Dowell, could see playing time.
"The first three games for sure are no huddle," Barnett said. "We're gonna rotate guys through. We have to survive those games to play at the level we want to play at. All those guys I mentioned will be playing and maybe that separation will come once that happens."
At the "star" linebacker spot, it appears freshman Andrew Dowell is No. 2 behind Darien Harris. Dantonio said redshirt freshman T.J. Harrell is working with the No. 3 team.
"He's got to be more physical in the box," Dantonio said of Harrell. "He's got to grow a little bit yet. But he's a very good football player."
… Redshirt freshman Montez Sweat could be the third defensive end ahead of sophomore Demetrius Cooper.
"Coop has played pretty well but I think Montez Sweat has had a great summer camp," Dantonio said.
"(He) makes a lot of plays and he runs around like he does. So he's been very good, and Evan Jones has been solid."
… True freshman receiver Felton Davis has had a good camp, as well, but it looks like a redshirt is likely.
Michigan State at Western Michigan
Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4, Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo
Series: Michigan State leads 11-2 (Michigan State 26-13, Aug. 30, 2013)
Did you know? This is the first time Michigan State has played at Western Michigan since the series began in 1908.