The Spartans will welcome a highly ranked freshman class into the fold as head coach Mark Dantonio and his staff put the team through their paces following a 6am wake up call on Monday.
"The first thing the players have to do tomorrow is pass the running (Bottom Line) test," Dantonio said.
"(Head strength and conditioning coach) Ken Mannie and his staff have done a great job managing the summer conditioning workouts, but most importantly, the players have bought into the program. So the guys have trained throughout the summer for this test. It's a demanding exercise, so we're anxious to see where the players are at from a conditioning standpoint."
The Spartans head into this season picked to finish third in the conference by the media at the recent Big Ten Media meetings in Chicago.
State returns junior linebacker Greg Jones, tabbed as the preseason offensive player of the year by the media, but have some holes to fill. MSU loses graduating seniors Brian Hoyer and Javon Ringer, but hope that they have adequate replacements in sophomore quarterback Keith Nichol and Kirk Cousins.
"We have both talent and depth at running back," said Dantonio. "What we'll be seeking this preseason is consistency from our running backs. Our two incoming freshmen, Edwin Baker and Larry Caper, will be given opportunities to impress, so it will be interesting to see how they respond."
Dantonio believes he has a contender in his third season as MSU's head coach.
"With 18 starters returning, the expectations are high for the upcoming season, and it takes a certain maturity level to manage those aspirations," Dantonio said.
"For this team to meet those expectations, our seniors must have the best seasons of their careers. Look back at the 2007 and 2008 seasons, those teams had success because the seniors consistently performed at a high level. This year will be no exception, as our seniors will ultimately determine if this team will become a contender for the Big Ten championship."
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