Corley takes it 'one step at a time' as new Spartan
East Lansing — On a typical Signing Day, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio often talks about players making an immediate impact.
With more than 20 players usually being talked about, the idea every one of those players will have that kind of impact on the team in his first year is a bit of a stretch.
On Friday, things were different.
As Dantonio wrapped up the 2015 season that ended with a loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinals, he also welcomed eight early enrollees, the most at Michigan State under Dantonio.
And unlike Signing Day in February, this time there’s a chance every player that was in the room could see the field as freshmen.
“They’re extremely highly recruited guys, and we expect for them to have an immediate impact on our football team, with their opportunities to transition now,” Dantonio said. “Academically they’re going to transition, socially transition and then football-wise they’re going to be able to transition.
“With that is going to come some bumps in the road, problems they’re going to have to navigate through, but at the end of the day they’re going to be much farther ahead than a normal freshman when they come in in July.”
With them comes high rankings and expectations.
Detroit King’s Donnie Corley, who committed last week, is among the group, and the chance to play right away was a reason he chose the Spartans.
“I’m taking it one step at a time and not looking ahead,” Corley said. “I’m just going to work hard and playing early will come with that, so it’s not something I’m thinking about right now.”
Corley was one of the nation’s top recruited receivers, but is one of four the Spartans have coming in this class. He’s joined this semester by Cam Chambers, a four-star out of New Jersey, and four-star quarterback Messiah deWeaver.
The group already has been taking advantage of being on campus and has been throwing with each other as well as veteran receivers R.J. Shelton and Felton Davis, who finished his freshman season.
While the receivers have a good shot to play early, deWeaver will be thrust right into a quarterback battle to replace Connor Cook.
“Everybody is coming in with the same mentality to go in there and get a shot,” deWeaver said. “We’re not sure how it will play out, but right now everyone is going in there and planning to get reps in the spring and see how it goes.”
It will be an adjustment for each as they must adapt to college life. They each talked about having the luxury of leaning on each other, but the reality of what they’re up against on the field will be setting in quickly.
“To me they’re all beasts, super strong and I’m the weakling,” said offensive tackle Thiyo Lukusa, a 6-foot-5, 330-pounder from Traverse City. “I have to work hard to get there, especially for an offensive lineman to be able to handle the quick defensive ends and defensive tackles that are 330 pounds but can move like a ballerina.
“You’ve kind of got to know you’re not the best anymore. You’re working to be the best, but right now you’re not and you might not be for a while. You just have to keep working and good things come with that hard work.”
Seven of the early enrollees are on scholarship, including deWeaver, Chambers, Corley and Lukusa. They are joined by linebacker Joe Bachie and safety Kenney Lyke, as well as defensive end Mufi Hunt, part of the 2015 class but enrolled this semester.
Troy Athens long snapper Bradley Robinson is a walk-on.
Odds and ends
Dantonio said he would be open to taking a graduate transfer after losing left tackle Jack Conklin early to the NFL draft.
“This day and time maybe we need a graduate transfer, so I’m putting that out there so you can Tweet that out,” he said to the media, laughing. “With Jack Conklin going out, maybe there is a graduate player who is an excellent player wants to come here and play — advertising is good.”
While the Spartans might take a transfer, Dantonio said at this point he isn’t aware of any players planning to leave the program.
“I guess there is always that possibility as we move through this,” he said.
... Dantonio said defensive end Montez Sweat is still part of the program after being suspended for most of the season, but didn’t give a clear idea of his future.
“Right now he’s in limbo, L-I-M-B-O,” Dantonio said, spelling it out for emphasis.