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MSU’s Jon Reschke seizes ‘Money’ LB spot

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — A few short weeks ago, Michigan State sophomore Jon Reschke was focused on being the No. 2 middle linebacker for the Spartans and hoping to make it through his third season injury free.

It had been a problem for the former four-star recruit from Birmingham Brother Rice, who missed parts of both of his first two years with injuries, including a shoulder injury that knocked him out of four games last season and limited him this spring.

It’s one of the reasons junior Riley Bullough was inserted as the No. 1 middle linebacker ahead of Reschke.

But during the first week of preseason camp, fifth-year senior Ed Davis went down with a knee injury, creating an opening at the strong-side, outside linebacker, position, or “Money.” Sophomore Chris Frey immediately moved into that spot, but it also provided an opportunity for the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Reschke.

He made the move to the “Money” and battled Frey all spring. By the time the first depth chart was released, both were starters. It was the culmination of a solid camp for Reschke, and it carried over to last week when he started at Western Michigan.

“I had a great week of practice,” Reschke said on Friday. “The last two scrimmages in camp I played very strong, and I think that might have been it.”

That got him the start against Western Michigan and he responded with nine tackles. And now as No. 5 Michigan State prepares to face No. 7 Oregon on Saturday, Reschke is listed as the clear No. 1 at “Money.”

“Jon Reschke played there in the past, but last year he was alternating at both when he went down with the shoulder,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “And he’s been in that linebacker room now, this is his third year. He’s from a great program in Brother Rice. They did a nice job as well, and they really put them in there, put them out.

“He’s got the ability to play “Mike” linebacker and our “Money” linebacker. So he’s been able to do it based on reps, and he’s making plays. He’s active in the box, and he can run and do the things he needs to do.”

Deciding on redshirts

The suspension of junior safety Mark Meyers won’t affect the starting secondary, but it will create some issues with depth.

Meyers played on Friday against Western Michigan when Montae Nicholson left for a handful of plays after getting hit on the left elbow. With Meyers’ long-term future still unclear, the Spartans will be making some decisions on possible redshirts for a handful of freshmen.

Several defensive backs played well in preseason camp, and three made the travel squad last week, including Josh Butler, David Dowell and Khari Willis. Butler has been playing corner while Willis and Dowell have been playing mostly safety.

Add in safety Grayson Miller, and Dantonio said decisions will need to be made quickly.

“Khari Willis possibly,” Dantonio said when asked who might see the field. “Josh Butler has been impressive. We have to make decisions on our redshirt players. David Dowell, Grayson Miller, those four guys really come to my mind in terms of, ‘Do we make decisions to play them now or do we wait?’ We just don’t want to play a guy and then not play him fully on all special teams.

“It’s not so much is he going to play on defense, but they’ve got to be active on all special teams. So that’s a tough call, but we may need to make that call and make decisions.”

Waiting to spring

Redshirt freshman Madre London remains No. 1 at tailback after scoring twice in his debut. But the No. 2 spot is now shared by sophomore Gerald Holmes and freshman LJ Scott.

Holmes scored on Friday, as well, while Scott led the Spartans with 77 yards. Junior Delton Williams continues to be No. 4 on the depth chart.

“None of these guys have had the opportunity to cut it loose and be themselves yet,” Dantonio said. “They’ve got to feel confident and loose to the point where they are running like they can run. We’re going to see who that is, and we really have four, because I know what one other one can do. So I’m not afraid to play him either.

“But I think that where it’s at right now is the running back situation is healthy.”

Extra points

Former All-American running back Clinton Jones, who was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame this year, will have his name unveiled on the Spartan Ring of Fame prior to Saturday’s game.

Jones led the Spartans in rushing in 1965 and 1966 as they won back-to-back Big Ten and national championships.

… Former Spartan Le’Veon Bell will be the team’s honorary captain on Saturday. Now with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell is the seventh-leading rusher in Michigan State history with 3,346 yards.