Michigan State defensive end Zach Slade likely out for season with leg injury

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Michigan State went through its final practice of preseason camp on Thursday and came out relatively healthy.

Not completely, mind you. That’s because redshirt freshman defensive end Zach Slade will need surgery to repair a leg injury and should be out for the season, coach Mark Dantonio confirmed.

Michigan State redshirt freshman Zach Slade is likely out for the season with a leg injury.

“We do have a season-ending injury, probably,” Dantonio said. “Zach Slade, he has a surgery he has to go through.”

Slade was part of Michigan State’s 2018 recruiting class along with his brother, Jacob, a defensive tackle. Zach Slade is a former three-star prospect from Ohio who didn’t see the field last season, but did make a few plays in the spring game, including an interception and a fumble recovery.

He was battling to move up the depth chart behind starters Kenny Willekes and Jacub Panasiuk. Slade was battling for playing time with the likes of Jack Camper and Drew Beesley, as well freshmen Michael Fletcher and Adam Berghorst.

“He was definitely coming along,” Willekes said of Slade. “He was going to be in the rotation this year. He’s improved his game immensely down to the small details. When he came in you could see he had talent, you could see he knew how to play, he was a little raw and he really took it upon himself to focus on the small details this camp and he really improved his game.

“Not having him hurts, but it’s that next-man-up mentality.”

While Slade appears to be the only significant injury, that doesn’t mean the Spartans are completely healthy.

“We’re nicked up a little bit,” Dantonio said. “But everybody is nicked up right now. We’ll get our guys back. We’ve got a couple guys that might not be back for the first game or so, but our starters will all be there.”

Who some of those guys might be is tough to determine, considering Dantonio has never been very open about injuries, especially when he expects the player to return during the season.

Before camp began, Dantonio said offensive lineman Tyler Higby was recovering from offseason surgery and would hopefully be ready by the Aug. 30 opener against Tulsa. Left tackle Cole Chewins has also had his share of injury concerns, something Dantonio said was the key to the fifth-year senior’s season.

Dantonio didn’t give an update on either player or freshman running back Anthony Williams, who suffered an undisclosed injury early in camp.

Reed likely to sit out season

It doesn’t look like transfer wide receiver Jayden Reed will be playing this season.

After earning freshman All-American honors last season at Western Michigan, Reed opted to leave the Broncos and come to Michigan State. As of now, he’ll be sitting out this season.

“We haven’t been able to petition him at this point,” Dantonio said. “There’s some things academically that we need to make sure that we’re able to get over the hump before we’ll be able to petition. So, it remains to be seen if that can happen.”

Taking a break

The Spartans will get the next two days off before returning to campus on Sunday to begin preparation for facing Tulsa at 7 p.m. on Aug. 30 at Spartan Stadium.

Before that, plenty of players will head home while others will just be happy to get off the field for a couple of days.

“I think it's important, you got to step away from football a little bit and you got to be able to have you have an opportunity to maybe go home,” Dantonio said. “So a lot of our guys will go. And you know, you just can't grind and grind them down and you've got to get your legs back. And there's a physical aspect of it. There's also, I think, a mental aspect of it too to kind of step away and get yourself sort of recharged.”


Twitter: @mattcharboneau