Before the Michigan State football team kicked off their preseason camp on Saturday, Aug. 4, head coach Mark Dantonio spoke with the media regarding several team issues including the 105-man roster, the players at the wide receiver position, and which players are on the “Eagle Council.”
Arthur Ray Jr., a senior offensive guard and cancer survivor, is not on the 105-man roster this fall.
“That’s a conversation that’s relatively private between he and I,” Dantonio said. “He will be in school. He will play football again. So we’ll see.”
Soon after Ray signed his letter of intent to Michigan State in 2007, a tumor was found near his left calf. Ray spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons on the inactive roster, but was able to start last season’s opener against Youngstown State when starting left guard Joel Foremen gave up his spot for Ray.
However Dantonio did point out that Ray is not officially done playing football at Michigan State.
“Well you never say never,” he said. “At this point in time, this is the decision that both of us have made.”
Another senior that is not currently on the 105-man roster is senior defensive end Corey Freeman. Freeman is still recovering from knee surgery after an injury this past spring. He appeared in 21 games for Michigan State these past two seasons.
Switching over to the wide receiver position, the questions continue as to who will emerge this fall. There have been several names tossed around during the off-season, including true freshman Aaron Burbridge, who did not participate in summer conditioning due to academic reasons.
“Obviously he’s not going to be in the shape that some of these other guys are in, although he ran pretty well this morning,” Dantonio said. “But you’re just looking at him relative to the other guys. We’re looking for athletic ability and the ability to catch the football, and he’s been doing a lot of that down in Farmington.”
“At wide receiver, we’re going to have younger players,” Dantonio said. “Are they red-shirt freshman, are they true freshman, are they sophomores, I’m not quite sure, but we’re just young overall at that position. We lost some older players, but we’ve got good talent at that position. We’re going to make sure everyone gets some reps and make sure that our guys are moving in there so everyone can get an honest evaluation.”
Unlike the inexperience at wide-out for the Spartans, there are plenty of experienced players on the team ready to take over the leadership role that Kirk Cousins, Trenton Robinson, and others from the 2011 Legends Division title team left behind.
“We have a good nucleus of seniors and really a good group of juniors, probably 20-plus juniors,” Dantonio said. “A lot of those guys are ready to assume that leadership responsibility. We choose what we call our Eagle Council now. We choose that council about five or six times a year. So it’s pretty indicative of exactly who is leading on our football team. Those are three guys (Andrew Maxwell, Max Bullough, and Chris Norman) that have demonstrated that they can lead.”