East Lansing — Michigan State redshirt freshman cornerback Vayante Copeland suffered a fractured vertebrae and will miss the rest of the season, coach Mark Dantonio said Sunday.

Copeland was injured in the fourth quarter of Michigan State’s victory over Oregon on Sept. 12 and watched this week’s game against Air Force from the sidelines with a neck brace.

“It’s very unfortunate, he’s a great player and a good person,” Dantonio said. “But he’s handling it very, very well. That’s the situation and you cannot mess with that kind of thing. We took the precautions, did the MRIs, etc., and those are the things that it showed.

“He’ll heal fine, be back for the spring, but right now it’s too iffy of a situation.”

Copeland won the starting job in preseason camp and several players likely will see more time now. Fifth-year senior Arjen Colquhoun started on Saturday while juniors Darian Hicks and Jermaine Edmondson have also seen extensive action.

There’s a good chance No. 2 Michigan State could also go to a true freshman. Dantonio said there already have been discussions about whether to play Josh Butler and David Dowell.

“I do think we have depth,” Dantonio said. “We have good football players on this team and that will not be an excuse not to win. Injuries are gonna occur and we have to handle them.”