Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio previews this week's game against Indiana at Spartan Stadium. The Detroit News
East Lansing — As Matt Seybert said Saturday after scoring his first two career touchdowns, making the choice to come to Michigan State was the toughest of his life.
He’d been at Buffalo just one season, and while making the decision to transfer to Michigan State fulfilled a dream he had growing up in Traverse City, there were no guarantees.
No guarantees what position he’d play. No guarantees he would play. No guarantees at all.
And oh yeah, he was doing so as a walk-on, a designation that stuck with him the past three seasons as he sat well down the depth chart and contributed to a small degree on special teams.
All that has changed quite dramatically in the last few days.
Seybert scored the first two touchdowns of his career in Saturday’s win over Northwestern — an 8-yard grab in the third quarter followed by a 7-yarder in the fourth — and by Monday he was on scholarship.
“Matt Seybert busts onto the scene a little bit and has a couple touchdown catches,” coach Mark Dantonio said Tuesday. “We'll put Matt back on scholarship. We put him on scholarship last spring, but we put him on scholarship (after Saturday's game), so he will be on scholarship the remainder of this year, so congratulations to him.”
Seybert was able to take advantage of a scholarship in the spring semester, but with a new recruiting class arriving by the end of the summer, the numbers were limited.
But after the way he played this week with starter Matt Dotson sidelined with an undisclosed injury, the scholarship has returned for the fifth-year senior’s final season at Michigan State, putting a nice touch on the last stop of a winding journey.
After Seybert transferred, he played tight end in both 2016 and 2017. But in the spring of 2018, he transitioned to defensive end, appearing in only three games last season, primarily on special teams. It led to the move back to tight end this past spring, and now Seybert finds himself as an important piece of the offense.
“He did a nice job in the spring, and it felt like that warranted that scholarship in the spring,” Dantonio said. “Then I just leave it up in the air and say, ‘OK, we have a certain number of scholarships and you have to work for them and see what happens.’
“He had 47 plays this last week. Had big moments. He had four catches … two touchdowns. He's going to give you everything he's got, and I just thought that was warranted, but excited for him. Brings a certain amount of excitement to the game and we’ll continue to play him.”
Pink eye for Barnett
Freshman wide receiver Julian Barnett had his second catch in the victory over Northwestern, but his playing time through the first four games has been limited.
It turns out there’s a pretty good reason.
“Pink eye,” Dantonio said. “He's had a serious eye infection for about two weeks. There's been a number of days where he hasn't been able to practice. So he finally got it cleared up. He missed one practice this past week. He missed Tuesday, and he was having a very difficult time getting rid of it. So that's basically the reason.
“But he's OK now. He's back and he should be playing more because I think he does have ability.”
It just so happens that pink eye is contagious, and Barnett got it from someone. Who? His roommate, freshman running back Anthony Williams, who battled it at the end of preseason camp.
“That would be Anthony,” Dantonio said. “It's unfortunate but it happens.”
Michigan State continues to be without left tackles Cole Chewins and AJ Arcuri. Chewins has not played this season, while Arcuri has missed the last two games.
Dantonio said he expects Arcuri to return, but is sounding less optimistic that Chewins’ back injury will allow him to get back on the field.
“I think that AJ will get back. Not sure about Cole. We'll see,” Dantonio said. “I know he's working extremely hard at it and it's been very disappointing for him, and for our football team because he's one of our leaders and he's been a starter here. But his overall health is our main concern.”