CHICAGO — Brian Lewerke, LJ Scott and Khari Willis spent time in front of the cameras on day two of Big Ten media days. The Spartans have high expectations heading into 2018, returning as much production as any team in the nation, but much of the focus on Tuesday was in the past, as sixth-year senior Jon Reschke was listed on the team’s roster after being dismissed from the team in early 2017. Ryan Collins and Kyle Turk pick out the most vital pieces to come from MSU’s availability:
Michigan State’s last star quarterback, Connor Cook, was a starter for more of his sophomore year. In 2017, it was all Brian Lewerke, and heading into year two as a starter, the Arizona native knows that there is plenty of optimism around a talented Spartan lineup.
“Everyone’s more positive,” Lewerke said. “The coaches are more positive…last year it was about ‘let’s get this taste out of our mouths,’ this time it’s more excitement instead of trying to revamp what we lost.”
Lewerke was the conference’s most threatening dual-threat quarterback last year, notching over 3,000 all-purpose yards and scoring 25 total touchdowns. With expectations high again for the program following a 10-win 2017, he knows there are facets of the game that needed to improve in the offseason.
“A big part of it is staying in the pocket,” Lewerke said. “My main focus has been on my footwork and staying in the pocket. Throwing on the run, there’s no way to prepare for it because [the throw]could come from any angle.”
After returning just 12 catches total last year, Lewerke now has his three top receivers back and knows that the big personalities of senior Felton Davis and junior Darrell Stewart could be backed up by on-field play.
“They’re goofy, but all the guys build off of Felton and Darrell,” Lewerke said. “They keep it light for all of us.”
Lewerke’s head coach Mark Dantonio added that the quarterback is a leader in the locker room and even said he had “street cred”.
“He commands a lot of respect, people in the locker room respect him.” – Kyle Turk
Minutes after last season’s bowl game L.J Scott announced that he would return for his final year in East Lansing. A surprise to many following the team last year, but Scott knew early that he’d play out his eligibility,
“It was like in the middle of the season.” The talented running back thought it’d be “better for me and my teammates” when listing reasons for his return.
Scott has had his struggles on and off the field over the last two years but he wasn’t hurt by the criticism he felt from Spartan fans. Some were surprised when he gave his thoughts on Jon Reschke returning to the program after being dismissed for off-field conduct involving his teammates.
“Jon Reschke’s a great guy. I’ve hung with him since I got here as a freshman. People make mistakes and I believe second chances are always there. He’s a great guy. We all know Jon Reschke.”
The senior said the team unanimously voted for Reschke’s return and wasn’t shy in his belief in the sixth-year linebacker. As this season kicks off, look for Scott to have an increased role as a leader and a running back hungry to prove critics wrong. – Ryan Collins
As a probable captain in the fall, the Jackson, Mich. senior was was more than happy to explain how he ended up as a speaker at the conference’s Kickoff Luncheon in the middle of the day and full of praise for the rest of his position group.
“Everyone likes each other,” Willis said. “It makes communication much easier.” The safety noted that many of the touted freshmen in the secondary have been eager to learn and improve, including third brother Michael Dowell, a freshman with two siblings in the starting lineup.
“It’s interesting, because Andrew and David aren’t big talkers, but they do push him,” Willis noted. “Sometimes he’ll even text me, trying to improve, trying to get better.” – Kyle Turk