Word could come soon on Spartans linebacker Davis
East Lansing — As it turns out, Ed Davis has taken well to coaching.
However, at Michigan State, the preference is the linebacker makes his impact on the field instead of the sidelines.
The Spartans are expecting to find out soon if Davis will be granted a sixth season of eligibility now that he has completed his final class toward graduation. Summer classes ended Thursday and the paperwork is ready to be filed.
From there, it’s anyone’s guess.
“The process could take a day, it could take an hour. I’m not sure,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “But we expect it to be quick.”
Davis was lost for the entire 2015 season when he tore his ACL on the third day of preseason camp a year ago. He was primed for a big season after recording 12 tackles for loss, including seven sacks as a junior in 2014, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors.
Heading into 2015, Davis was on several preseason All-Big Ten teams and was named to the Bednarik Award Watch List.
Davis spent all of last season rehabbing the injury and has continued to work this summer. While the rest of his teammates have been going through camp, Davis has been helping linebackers coach Mark Snyder.
“He’s been helping me coach a little bit,” Snyder said. “He’s helping Tyriq (Thompson) and some of the other young guys who play his position, bringing them along.”
The next step for Davis and the linebacking corps is working him back into the rotation of one of the more talented groups in the country. In Davis’ absence last season, sophomores Jon Reschke and Chris Frey solidified themselves as difference-makers at strong side outside linebacker.
Reschke started all 14 games and finished fifth on the team in tackles while Frey played in all 14 games and had five tackles for loss, including 2.5 sacks. Each is spending time in camp working on the weak side as well, but how Davis fits in when he returns is still to be determined.
“We'll worry about that rotation after that happens,” Snyder said. “Until that happens, there is no rotation. He's going to get his reps and we're going to try to bring him along slowly and get confidence in that thing.”
It’s not a simple task, especially considering sophomore Andrew Dowell will also play plenty on the weak side, but the Spartans aren’t going to push Davis to return to his 2014 form too quickly.
“He’s had knee surgery so he’s gotta get his confidence back to play,” Dantonio said. “But he’s a very, very good player, a very good person and has worked hard to get to this point. So we’re looking forward to seeing him on the field.”
Playing as a true freshmen on the defensive line isn’t something that happens often, but it looks like more than one will have a shot to do that this season for the Spartans.
Ends Josh King and Auston Robertson have stood out in camp while tackle Mike Panasiuk has done the same.
“We’ve got some young players,” Dantonio said. “Josh King, Auston Robertson, Panasiuk — those guys are probably gonna end up playing for us because you see them getting better and better every practice. You even look back at last week’s scrimmage on Saturday and where we are Thursday and they are completely different players. They’re making a move in that respect.”
There will continue to be plenty of competition over the next couple weeks of camp. Juniors Demetrius Cooper at end and Malik McDowell inside are the only certain starters. After that, there is a battle.
Along with the freshmen, fifth-year senior Evan Jones is pushing to hold a starting spot at one end while graduate transfer Gabe Sherrod has also flashed in camp. Inside, graduate transfer Kevin Williams brings experience while redshirt freshman Raequan Williams has been impressive as well.
Michigan State will hold its second scrimmage of preseason camp today. It’s one of the last opportunities for players to prove they belong on the two-deep depth chart considering the Spartans will start moving more toward game preparation next week.
“Scrimmages are exiting, they are fun, especially this one,” fifth-year senior linebacker Riley Bullough said. “This one coming up is a special one for the younger guys. It is really the last scrimmage of camp, the hard one. They will have an opportunity to show what they’ve got.”