MSU NEWS: 2017 roster finalized, more player departures, one more pledge for 2018

There was a collection of news and announcements regarding the Michigan State football program on Tuesday, the kind that people want to hear about… the on-field activity.

Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio discussed and disclosed a number of things regarding both player and staff personnel.


One may notice a notable omission from the roster, cornerback Vayante Copeland. Dantonio confirmed on Tuesday that Copeland is no longer a part of the program. While details of his departure are unknown at the time, Dantonio adds that Copeland “was not thrown off this football team.”

Copeland was set to enter his redshirt junior year at MSU. He played in just two games as a RS freshman in 2015 before being sidelined for the year with a neck injury He played in seven games (five starts) last season before missing the final five games with a foot injury. Overall for his career, he’s logged 43 tackles, three pass break-ups and two interceptions.

Despite being limited at times due to injuries. Copeland was easily the most experienced player in an already-young, unproven MSU secondary.

Dantonio also expressed his concerns about a few other players: defensive lineman Demetrius Cooper and defensive back Tyson Smith.

Cooper has been in some trouble off the field since the end of last season. He faced misdemeanor assault and battery charges back in February stemming from an incident in November of 2016. He then did the unthinkable by filming himself consuming alcohol, which was a violation of his plea deal from the aforementioned charges.

Smith, as MLive’s Kyle Austin points out, revealed back in May that he suffered a stroke during last season. While Dantonio has his doubts and concerns, Smith is feeling very optimistic.

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In addition to the player personnel, Dantonio and the team confirmed of some new roles in the coaching and player development staff as well.

Mark Staten has been at Michigan State throughout Dantonio’s entire tenure. He started out as a coach for tight ends and tackles before being promoted to offensive line coach in February of 2011.

Sheldon White, the former Detroit Lions’ interim GM and employee of the Lions for nearly 20 years, earns a promotion of being involved heavily with the recruiting area of MSU football. White was hired as a consultant for the program in July of 2016. His son Cody is a member of the 2017 freshman class for the Spartans.


Apparently Cassius Peat will not be making the rare return to Michigan State in the fall.

The former Spartan commit and recent junior college transfer recently said that the Spartans’ coaches informed him that he should not return to MSU. Reasons for this have not been disclosed but Peat says the program just “blindsided” him. Dantonio later confirmed this on Tuesday.

“I have respect for them, and I understand it’s a business,” Peat said. “But morally, man, as a 20-year-old kid with a family, for them to do that is – I can’t even put it into words, to be honest.

“I did nothing wrong. I was admitted to get back in and everything. I’ve been trying to bite my lip about it, but I just feel like I have to put that out there. … They didn’t even give me a reason.”

Peat was a member of the 2015 recruiting class for Michigan State. He redshirted his first year before being granted his scholarship release shortly before the start of the 2016 season, returning to play at the JuCo level back in his home state of Arizona. Peat announced back in March that he would be returning to MSU, and we recently tabbed him as one of five guys who will need to step up in wake of the sexual assault charges coming to fruition.

The news is quite puzzling, because Peat was going to return as a defensive lineman after first entering the program in 2015 as a linebacker. The defensive line has been severely whittled down, with the likes of Josh King and Auston Robertson facing sexual assault charges, in separate incidents; Malik McDowell foregoing his senior season for the NFL Draft this past spring; and the aforementioned questions surrounding Demetrius Cooper. Another added wrinkle was that the team still has multiple scholarships available for the upcoming season.

Dantonio would not provide full detail, but cited “uncompleted responsibilities” regarding Peat.

“It’s unfortunate what was written. I can say that,” Dantonio said at a press conference. “We’ve been in contact with Cassius throughout the semester, and there’s certain things that you’ve got to be able to get done before you can come back. It’s one of those things, but I don’t want to speak bad about anybody.”


Lastly but not least, Michigan State earned their latest commit from the Class of 2018, in 3-star linebacker Jeslord Boateng (Dublin, OH) committing late on Monday.

Boateng (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) is listed among the top 40 players in the state of Ohio and top 75 outside linebackers in the country. His pledge to the Spartans comes roughly one month after the program offered him a scholarship for 2018 and one day after unofficially visiting East Lansing.

Boateng had offers from various programs across the country, including Big Ten foes Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Rutgers.

For Michigan State, the addition of Boateng now gives the Spartans seven commits for the Class of 2018. Boateng is also the fifth player from the state of Ohio from the class. He’s also the latest pledge since Michael Dowell (Lakewood, OH), brother of current Spartans Andrew and David Dowell, committed in late May a few weeks back.

Written by Alex Muller

MSU Graduate. Just a city boy born and raised in south Detroit. Baseball is life, a pitcher at heart. Freelance writer for MIPrepZone (News-Herald, Press & Guide).

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