CHICAGO — Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio didn’t shy away from any questions Monday at Big Ten Media Days.
“Now we talk about commitment, change, learning from the past,” he said at the podium, wrapping up a brief opening statement. He proceeded to field questions largely about the upcoming season, with a few inquiries about the turmoil of the offseason sprinkled in.
On the status of Demetrius Cooper: Dantonio shared that the senior defensive end has reached the second of four stages on the road to returning. Cooper allegedly spit on a traffic officer in October, reached a plea agreement, then was accused of violating the terms of that agreement in May. Dantonio said Cooper has plenty of work to do to earn back his scholarship.
“The determination is made by me, but Demetrius is in [Stage 2],” Dantonio explained. “We have four stages. Stage 1 was prior to summer session. He needed to do well in school and he was allowed to work out individually. He got two 4-points in both his classes, and he’s a graduate of Michigan State University. He should be congratulated for that.
“Stage 2 now, which he is in, goes until he reports to camp, which is next week. No problems, no issues. Under Stage 3, he earns back his scholarship. If he’s able to do that, we’ll maybe make it to Stage 4. In all those stages, he’s accountable for his actions on and off the field, and he’s supervised on and off the field.”
On the status of Tyson Smith: Dantonio sounded as optimistic as ever about his junior cornerback, who suffered a stroke last year. Smith declared himself cleared to play in June, but Dantonio responded with reservations about his ability to return. Now it looks as though he will be eased back into action.
“Tyson is back on the roster and he’s been cleared to play,” Dantonio said. “We’ll work him into things gradually, but he has been cleared to play. Obviously he’s started for us before, he’s an experienced corner and he has a good skill set. We’ll look forward to seeing how he does, but we’ll take it slow.”
On a potential silent commitment for the 2018 recruiting class: Michigan State currently has 13 players publicly committed to the program. Did Dantonio misspeak, or was he hinting at a 14th prospect who will soon make his commitment known? You be the judge.
“Right now, I think we have 14 committed guys for next season,” he said while discussing the character of his recruits. “All of them are outstanding young people, outstanding students and outstanding football players. That doesn’t mean they won’t be tempted or have a problem. We all need to be on guard.”
An hour before that comment, 3-star linebacker Chase Kline shared that he will announce his decision at 1 p.m. ET Tuesday. The Chardon (Ohio) standout has visited Michigan State twice.
👀 Committing tomorrow at 1 PM 👀
— Chase Kline (@chase82bank) July 24, 2017