East Lansing — Delton Williams didn’t figure he’d be playing this season, but then again, not much has gone to plan over the last six months.
Michigan State’s junior running back was expecting to redshirt this season after returning from suspension in early August, but when Madre London went down with an injury at Rutgers two weeks ago, Williams was called upon.
“It was very surprising but it was just a sacrifice I had to make for my team,” Williams said. “It was either you’re gonna redshirt or you’re not. Are you gonna tell coach, ‘I don’t wanna to play?’ That’s not a response you’re gonna give your head coach. You came here to play football.
“So however the path goes — playing or not — that’s the way it’s gotta be.”
Playing at all was a question last March when he was arrested following a road-rage incident on campus when he flashed a gun at another driver. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor weapons charge and was suspended until August by the Michigan State student judicial board.
He returned to the team the second week of preseason camp, and through the first five games, it appeared he was headed for a redshirt with a crowded backfield that included London, freshman LJ Scott and sophomore Gerald Holmes.
The injury to London, however, means he’s back in the mix. Williams will play on special teams and have a shot to be part of the running back rotation.
“They’re all strong, powerful runners, so I don’t know what’s gonna happen here in the next couple weeks,” said Dave Warner, Michigan State’s co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach. “But Delton is certainly in the mix. We took the redshirt off him for a reason. We don’t want him sitting on the bench. I think he can be very valuable on special teams, but I think he can carry the ball as we’ve seen in years past.
“So he’ll get his opportunity as well, and as I’ve said all year, it’s sort of who has the hot hand and those guys will get more reps.”
Williams entered the season with more experience than any of the other backs with 554 yards rushing and six touchdowns. This season, he has carried the ball 10 times for 21 yards the past two games.
While he sat this season, coach Mark Dantonio praised his attitude.
“He’s been unbelievable in terms of in the locker room, an emotional leader and just been extremely positive,” Dantonio said. “He’s done everything he needs to do.”
It wasn’t easy sitting for Williams, but now he’s ready to become the player he was before his suspension.
“I was down at some points,” Williams said. “But I looked at it like everybody makes mistakes. Nobody is perfect and you gotta bounce back. It all depends on how you bounce back.”
Indiana coach Kevin Wilson has played the best this season and he’s come close to pulling off the upset.
The Hoosiers came up just short in a 34-27 loss to No. 1 Ohio State to open Big Ten play on Oct. 3, and Wilson believes Michigan State is as good as it gets in college football. The Spartans might even be better than most people think.
“Michigan State’s very, very good. Always are,” Wilson said. “One of the longest winning streaks in the country, (ranked) seventh in the nation right now and probably getting slighted, because they win every week. I think they’ve won 11 games — 10 or 11 games — four of the last five years. (They’ve) beaten top programs, won bowl games, won championship games. … Coach Dantonio and his staff is awesome.”