Dantonio: Players will decide if Jon Reschke returns to MSU
Detroit — A little more than a year ago, Jon Reschke’s career at Michigan State was finished.
The linebacker, who was a standout at Birmingham Brother Rice, announced in February 2017 that he was leaving the Spartans program and seeking a transfer for his final season of eligibility after making what he called “an insensitive and totally regrettable comment involving a former teammate.”
Rumors have been circulating recently that Reschke, who never announced where he would transfer and did not play in 2017, was hoping to return to Michigan State for one final season.
After speaking at a coaching clinic for Detroit Public School League coaches at the Horatio Williams Foundation on Wednesday, coach Mark Dantonio said he has discussed the matter with his team and any decision welcoming Reschke back would be made by the players.
“I’ve talked to our football team about it. It’s our football team’s decision on that,” Dantonio said. “I think there are certain things that you go through relative to your football team, so that decision will get made as we go forward, but I think it’s more important to talk to our players about that if that happens.
“I’ve talked to our football team about it. I think it’s important that we allow our players to embrace certain things and empower them to make decisions. I’ll empower them to make certain decisions on our football team.”
Dantonio said there wouldn’t be a vote on whether to welcome Reschke back and that he would consult the Eagle Council — Michigan State’s leadership group that is typically comprised of 12 players — when making the ultimate decision.
“We have leaders on our team and I expect them to lead from within,” Dantonio said.
Aside from the team being open to his return, Reschke would likely have to petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility. He played in only two games in 2016 because of an ankle injury, making the chances of being granted an extra year seem likely.
“There’s things that have to happen,” Dantonio said.
In 24 career games, Reschke had 101 tackles, including 6.5 for loss.
He came to Michigan State as a four-star recruit and redshirted his freshman season in 2013 as he battled injuries playing middle linebacker. He played eight games in 2014 and made the move to the outside in 2015, starting all 14 games on the strong side while collecting 75 tackles as the Spartans reached the College Football Playoff.
Reschke injured his ankle in Week 3 of 2016 against Wisconsin and missed the rest of the season.
If he were to return, it’s difficult to say what Reschke’s role might be. In the playoff year of 2015, Reschke started all 14 games at the SAM outside linebacker spot, a position he could move back into with the graduation of Chris Frey. However, the continued development of junior Tyriq Thompson and sophomore Antjuan Simmons has provided plenty of depth for the Spartans, as well as the prospect of sophomore Brandon Randle playing linebacker and defensive end.
The bigger question, however, lies with the players who will decide if he should come back.
Reschke’s decision to leave the team was announced as the Michigan State program was in the midst of several off-field problems. Three players had been charged with sexual assault and a staff member had been suspended following the incident. Several weeks later a fourth player was charged in a separate sexual assault cases.
Those players — Josh King, Donnie Corley, Demetric Vance and Auston Robertson — were all ultimately dismissed from the team while former staffer Curtis Blackwell did not have his contract renewed. Several other players also transferred.
It all came after a disappointing 3-9 mark on the field, leaving Dantonio and the coaching staff working to rebuild the atmosphere in the locker room. The turnaround, however, was quick as the Spartans responded by going 10-3 in 2017 and winning the Holiday Bowl.
The result is a locker room as strong as it’s been under Dantonio.
“It’s as good as it’s ever been in my 11 years in terms of chemistry,” Dantonio said, “because we’ve had to solidify things together, you know. We’ve had to come together. We’ve had to establish ourselves on the field. We’ve had to establish ourselves off the field.
“We’re challenged constantly right now. That creates a little bit of chemistry in itself. I think right now we have great young people. I’m not gonna say we won’t ever make a mistake, but we’ve got great young people and we’re poised for challenges.”