Youngsters Earn Early Praise

The day all college football players wait for finally arrived on Wednesday as Michigan State dressed out in full pads for the first time. While Mark Dantonio gave some of the young players praise, he also stressed fans should not get overly excited just yet.

While the Spartans have been on the field since Saturday, full pads gives players a little extra edge as work continues towards The Opening of the 2012 season.

"Guys made plays on both sides of the ball I thought," said Dantonio. "Guys looked crisp; there was a lot of hitting out there and they were very active. We'll look at things on the film and move forward and try and get better. It's important we begin to carry our pads again and be able to be active out on the football field."

While players look forward to putting on the pads, once things get going they often find the grinder a little harder than expected.

"It was rough and touch in the trenches," said Shilique Calhoun. "We all got beat up – but it was a good day though."

For Joel Heath the chance to hit a few teammates made it worth putting on the extra gear.

"It's competitive," said Heath. "People are flying around and it's exciting. Basically, we've been training and running drills every day. We're finally to be able to get out here in pads and hit each other."

While still early in camp, Dantonio is seeing some of the Spartans young players make things happen. But he cautions it's too early to say someone is ready to rise up the Spartans depth chart especially at wide receiver.

"We're in day five," said Dantonio. "It's too early to make those assumptions. As long as they continue to progress, we'll continue to allow that to happen. We'll scrimmage twice before we decide who's going to be where in terms of depth chart. Those guys have a lot of ability, we'll just see how far they can raise the bar.

"I think all of our guys catch the ball very, very well. It's basically who's going to be able to step up there and learn what they have to do the fastest. I think MacGarrett Kings has shown some things; he's exciting to watch after catching the football. Tres Barksdale has made some very good plays down the field. Also, (Monty) Madaris has been solid. We've seen Kyle Kerrick and DeAnthony (Arnett) in the spring, and they're picking up...I think they're going to play a lot of football here. But they're young, so they're still learning how to get lined up in the huddle, let alone sometimes on the field in the various formations that we have.

"Everybody's in the mix right now. People have to separate themselves; we've got a lot of new guys."

On defense, Dantonio pointed out the early performance of freshman safety Demetrious Cox.

"Just the way he focuses in on things, and really his level of play in terms of adjustments in talking and moving," Dantonio said on what has impressed him about Cox. "He just seems to understand conceptually what we're doing a little bit more back there, not more than any of our other guys, but as a normal freshman. I think that's a big positive.

"He's definitely a player. If you're looking at guys who may play early, he's one of them I would expect."

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