Offseason brings different feel, re-centering

The offseason had a different feel to it this year compared to last, and the leadership on the team is a big reason why the Spartans are focused and hard at work.

Michigan State has 18 seniors on this year's team, double the number of last year's team.

That group has been key to the Spartans offseason, which head coach Mark Dantonio said had a different feel to it.

"They sense some unfinished business," Dantonio said. "They've been resilient. I think the whole program has really re-centered itself. I think that's important. You always need to, whether you come off a winning season or come off a losing season, you need to re-center yourself. I don't know that we did a great job of that last year collectively.

"We tried, but you usually have to have adversity to do that." The Spartans certainly had their share of adversity in 2012, losing five games by a total of 13 points – many of which came down to one of the final drives of the game.

As a result, the Spartans have upped the intensity this offseason, but a lot of it came from the players – especially the seniors.

"We have had an incredible offseason," senior linebacker Max Bullough said. "Guys are taking ownership of this team and we've got more seniors. That allows us to have more leadership spread out among the team, so it doesn't have to be as clear cut and we are getting ready to start chasing camp and doing what we have to do and then start playing games."

"You could see more leadership (this offseason)," senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard said. "Last year, the senior class wasn't as big and there are lot of us this year and a lot of us in each position group. … We all are working a little bit harder than last year's team, as well."

Dantonio said that players including Bullough, Andrew Maxwell, Fou Fonoti, Bennie Fowler, Tyler Hoover and Isaiah Lewis have taken more of a leadership approach this season.

Another player Dantonio mentioned was senior offensive lineman Blake Treadwell.

"I would say we are working harder, as well as a lot of us have good camaraderie," Treadwell said. "Every senior cares about everyone in the locker room. It's a big deal. The younger guys feel welcome and we can show them how it feels to be a top athlete at Michigan State."

Dennard said knowing Michigan State was close to having a better record last year motivated everyone on the team since the 2012 season concluded.

"We came into this offseason and just pushed ourselves and worked hard," Dennard said. "We have been doing stuff before and after practice, putting in the extra effort and doing what we need to do to be a Big Ten championship team.

"We gotta go and we gotta chase it. Have tunnel vision on Indianapolis."


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