MSU’s Cooper in ‘Stage 3’ as he seeks return to team

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio calls his players over as the Spartans hold their first football practice Monday in East Lansing.

East Lansing — Fifth-year senior Demetrius Cooper was on the field and practicing Monday as Michigan State went through its first practice of the season.

The defensive end is in “Stage 3” of a four-step process that should end with him being back on scholarship and playing with the Spartans this season.

“We’ll get through camp here and see how he does,” coach Mark Dantonio said. “But he’s done everything he’s supposed to do thus far.”

Cooper was accused of spitting on an East Lansing code enforcement officer late last October and eventually took a plea deal that would reduce his charges to littering if he followed his bond conditions. He was later accused of breaking that bond and was required to take daily alcohol tests.

Dantonio said last week that Cooper had been removed from scholarship and would have to earn it back for this season. The Chicago native earned his undergraduate degree in the meantime and likely would start at one defensive end spot if he continues to follow the parameters set by Dantonio.

Cooper, who has played in 38 career games, had 23 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season.

Paulino-Bell, Smith in action

Michigan State is fairly healthy as camp opens, including incoming freshman defensive end Lashawn Paulino-Bell and junior cornerback Tyson Smith.

“They’re out here,” Dantonio said.

Smith suffered a stroke last season but last week Dantonio said he has been cleared to play though they would take things slowly.

Paulino-Bell was in a Jet Ski accident last spring back home in Florida. He’s further behind than his classmates but moved well on Monday.

“He’s got some things to make up,” Dantonio said. “He’s starting from scratch, really. It’s gonna take a little bit of time, and there’s a big learning curve. We’ll see how he does when he puts pads on.”

MSU welcomes return to field, has ‘something to prove’

Hair apparent

Players tend to do what they can to keep camp light. Some of the Spartans have shaved heads while others like offensive David Beedle have a full mullet.

Left tackle Cole Chewins went with the mustache, something he and all the offensive lineman have decided to do.

“They might not be pretty,” Chewins said. “But we do things together. There are some good ones.”