CHICAGO — Heading into the second day of Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, people were expecting the usual talking points for head coach Mark Dantonio: his rising star quarterback, how he returns 19 of 22 starters, the fact that his team is being disrespected, the standard fare.
I wouldn’t have been able tell you that the biggest surprising piece of news for Dantonio especially, if not the whole day, was the fact that Jon Reschke, a linebacker dismissed from the team before the start of the 2017 season, has found his way back onto the team.
Reschke was dismissed from the team prior to the 2017 season for what was later learned by the Detroit Free Press for sending a racially insensitive text message to a former teammate. Regardless of which side of the fence fans areon regarding Dantonio’s decision, Reschke reached out to the team back in late 2017, issuing an apology before parting ways with the team, looking to mend the bridges he burned during that season.
Senior safety and probable captain Khari Willis, who also gave Tuesday’s Big Ten Football Kickoff Luncheon speech, offered his support for Reschke and said he was thrilled to have him back as part of the team.
“You have to be careful with the way other people react because they don’t know a person individually,” Willis said. “I never judged anybody unless it’s some frequent behavior, but I’ve never got that vibe from Jon, and I’ve played with him for two years. I wasn’t really concerned but I just wanted to talk with him. If you make the mistake, as long as you go back and fix it and correct it, and go to those that you may have hurt, and I feel like he’s done that.”
Willis’ teammate and fellow classmate, LJ Scott, echoed the same sentiments as well.
“Jon Reschke’s a great guy. I’ve hung with him since I got here as a freshman,” Scott said. “People make mistakes and I believe second chances are always there. He’s a great guy. We all know Jon Reschke.”
Reschke announced back in February of 2017 that he would leave the program after a “mutual decision” with Dantonio. His intentions were to transfer, but after failing to find himself on another roster last fall, sat out last season looking for a team to take a chance on him as a sixth-year senior.
Dantonio confirmed Tuesday morning that Reschke has been added back onto the roster, listed as a sixth-year senior linebacker, donning No. 33. Reschke is on the team, but Dantonio noted that it’s still going to be an ongoing process to keep him on and work him in as a contributor on the field.
“I talked to our football team and our players and said: Hey, if you guys want him back, then you have to bring him back,” Dantonio said about seeking the team’s input on the situation. “It has to be a decision made by our African-American players, led by them. They have to support that.”
The decision comes at a time where many people outside of Michigan State are perturbed by the move, especially considering the off-field allegations the football program has had to deal with for the past year and a half.
“But the one thing I want our football players to understand and to learn from is that — and to grow as people from is that they’re going to have to handle big, big issues at times, such as standing for the flag or not, things we’ve endured at Michigan State in this past year, they’re going to be a part of that, and they’re going to have to weigh in on things,” Dantonio said.
If Reschke does return to the field for the fall, many are questioning just how effective the 23-year-old can be, having played just two games in the last two seasons. Two of the linebacker positions are set with Joe Bachie and Andrew Dowell returning, but Antjuan Simmons and Tyriq Thompson have both emerged as the frontrunners for the last spot.
Reschke, who will not be on scholarship for his final year, finished the 2015 Big Ten title and College Football Playoff run with 75 tackles, which was fourth-most on the team. Michigan State will begin their 2018 season Aug. 31, when they welcome the Utah State Aggies to town, beginning their pursuit for a second Big Ten title in the last four years.