MSU media day: Who are the 2017 Spartans?

MSU, media day
The Spartans practice during Michigan State University media day in East Lansing on Aug. 7, 2017.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Just under four weeks (26 days, in fact) until the Michigan State football team straps on the pads, knots the laces and races out of the tunnel at Spartan Stadium, coaches and players met with reporters during the team’s annual media day.

Turning the page from an offseason sex assault scandal, MSU has established a toughness founded on its young talent.

“We have experience but we’re young,” head coach Mark Dantonio said. “Now you’ve got to grow up fast and that’s the exciting thing, because when you’re around youth, relatively speaking, there is a lot of excitement because people are doing things for the first time and they’re having opportunities to play a little bit earlier.”

After putting the past in perspective to move forward, the Spartans also have a renewed sense of ownership. With that comes a hunger to erase the recollection of a 3-9 season.

“We have guys that are really talented, but then we have guys that might not be the most talented guys in the world, but they’ve got a work ethic like nobody else,” senior linebacker Chris Frey said. “Guys come to work every single day and I think it shows. It might not be talent, but it’s at least hard work, and that’s what we’re about.”

Only 13 seniors are on the roster, so a large group of underclassmen will see the bulk of the playing time this season.

MSU Media Day, Harlon Barnett
Michigan State football associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett speaks with reporters on MSU’s annual Media Day in East Lansing on Aug. 7, 2017.

“The thing about year three guys is there’s no more, ‘Where’s this class?’ ‘What time do I need to be here?’ All that stuff is out the window,” Harlon Barnett, associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator, said. “Their natural ability starts to come out and you’re starting to see that now with some of these guys.”

Even with all the talk of youth, chemistry and focus might just be the defining characteristics of this team.

“I think our seniors have done a great job. We don’t have many of them, but they’ve done a great job,” Dantonio said. “Our leadership group also has done an outstanding job. But I’ve seen the focus. I see guys that like being together. I see a lot of energy out on the football field. I see a sense of accountability as well.”

Michigan State hosts Bowling Green on Saturday, Sept. 2 at noon. The game will be televised on ESPNU.