Spartan Digest Inside Dish

We start off April with some changes at Spartan Digest and some inside dish as the Spartans continue to work towards their annual spring game on April 25th.

What is the latest inside dish on the Michigan State football program?

Find out in our first "INSIDE DISH" as we have several exciting bits of info coming out of the Spartans football program.


How good of a job has Mark Dantonio and his staff done in recruiting punters? Yes, punters I say. Consider the Spartans brought in Aaron Bates who started as a true freshman and played in all of the 52 games played during his MSU career. Not only did Bates excel on the field, his teammates selected his as a captain being the first punter in the programs history to earn the honor.

Before Bates left the program Mike Sadler sat behind him his first year in the program before also becoming a four year starter and earning honors on and off the field.

Now Jake Hartbarger is set to follow in Sadler’s footsteps after watching him last season. As someone close to the program told Spartan Digest about the Ohio native and his abilities.

“The past two guys we had were real good. However, when Jake gets hold of a ball the ball booms off his foot.”

If all goes as planned look for Hartbarger to join Bates and Sadler by becoming a four year starter.


The Spartans secondary will be a big question mark when the season opens. However, many inside the program feel they have a couple of standout players ready to make a major jump.

Spartan Digest is hearing Demetrious Cox is about to have a breakout season as he fully understands it’s his time to step up and take his game to a new level.

However, the one to really keep an eye on is Montae Nicholson as many inside the program feel the Monroeville (PA) native could be the next special player to come out of the Spartans secondary and play on Sunday’s.

We’re also being told R.J. Williamson is on track to take his play up another level and will have a legitimate chance of receiving an invite to the NFL Combine next year if he plays at the level those inside the program he’ll play this fall.


Spartan Digest is hearing glowing reports about cornerback Vayante Copeland’s ability to catch the football. As one source told SD about the Dayton, Ohio native. Vayante has major ball skills with his ability to catch the ball. In fact many in the program feel Copeland may have the best set of hands on the entire team and if not is at least in the Top Three. The only problem for Copeland is he entered camp at 200-pounds making him about 10-pounds heavier than he needs to be to play at the level needed.


Offensive lineman Dennis Finley is another young player SD is hearing good things about out of the early spring. The Detroit Cass Tech product came into the spring with the proper mindset and is really taking to the early coaching he’s received. All the athletic tools are there for Finley to play at a high level once he finds his way to the field.


A lot of people are saying great things about Cincinnati native Monty Madaris and for good reasons. Coaches were thrilled with what they were seeing out of Madaris last season during practice and many feel he understands his window is in front of him. As one source told SD… Monty is on the verge to take off. He’s been working hard and knows he’s got two years to go. He did a good job last season during practice, but other players were more proven and game ready.


While all eyes will be on the Spartans defense without Pat Narduzzi being their coordinator, all reports we’ve received have been extremely positive. That should be expected with anything Mark Dantonio does. One change SD feels could happen has Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel both in the coaches box in the fall just as Dave Warner and Jim Bollman have been doing. While many will say the positives of having Tressel and Barnett together since Dantonio arrived in East Lansing should make for a smooth transition, they often forget the duo had worked together since the 2004 season in Cincinnati making this their fifteenth season together.


While the Spartans secondary will be the biggest question mark about the programs 2015 version one area of little concern right now is along the defensive line. One source told SD the Spartans defensive line could be one of the all-time best with Shilique Calhoun, Joel Heath, Malik McDowell and Lawrence Thomas as the anchors. SD has also been told that the breakout player of the group could well be Heath as he’s put everything together and still has the ability to run with the best of them for a player at almost 300-pounds. It was this trait that caught the eye of Mark Dantonio when Heath came to summer camp and blew people away with a forty time around 4.7 seconds.


Is there a prospect Spartan fans should be watching for a possible commitment? Yes!!!! All eyes should be on Battle Creek Central linebacker Brandon Randle as there are a couple of different ties between the BCC program, Randle and the Spartans. Former MSU running back Larry Caper is from the school and SD has been told Randle’s mother ran track at MSU.

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