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 Draft Scout College Football Player News: Michigan State
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  02/22/20 - Matt DotsonSr/2021, Michigan State, 6-5, 252 (DS#28 TE) + More +

  Michigan State hired Wisconsin assistant Ted Gilmore on Friday as tight ends coach. Gilmore, 52, joins the Spartans after spending the past five seasons as the Badgers' wide receivers coach. Previously, he spent three seasons as wide receivers coach for the Oakland Raiders and numerous colleges before that, including Nebraska, Purdue and Colorado. "Coach Gilmore is a great teacher and excellent motivator who brings high energy," new Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker said in a statement. "He's a proven developer of players and a very effective recruiter." Tucker also announced the hirings of three directors: Geoff Martzen for player personnel, Cody Cox for football operations and Darien Harris for player engagement. - AP College Football

(DS#28 TE) Sr/2021 TE Matt DotsonMichigan State
News Source: AP College Football
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  Jay Johnson followed head coach Mel Tucker and fellow assistant Chris Kapilovic to Michigan State from Colorado, joining the Spartans on Thursday as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Johnson filled those roles last season at Colorado under Tucker. The Spartans hired Tucker last week following Mark Dantonio's retirement. Tucker brought the 50-year-old Johnson with him to East Lansing along with offensive line coach and running game coordinator Kapilovic. Kapilovic's move was announced this week. The assistants were with Tucker for his only season in Colorado. - AP College Football

(DS#23 QB) rJr/2022 QB Rocky LombardiMichigan State
News Source: AP College Football
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  02/19/20 - Jalen NailorJr/2022, Michigan State, 6-0, 212 (DS#44 WR) + More +

  Michigan State has hired Courtney Hawkins as wide receivers coach. Spartans coach Mel Tucker announced the addition to his new staff on Wednesday. Hawkins was the head coach and athletic director at Flint Beecher High School in Michigan, where he played receiver before going on to star at the position at Michigan State. Hawkins was a two-time All-Big Ten player for the late George Perles from 1988 to 1991 for the Spartans. He played in nine NFL seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tucker was hired away from Colorado last week by Michigan State, which more than doubled his total compensation with a six-year, $33 million contract. He retained assistants Mike Tressel and Ron Burton from coach Mark Dantonio's staff. Tucker brought one of his assistants with the Buffaloes with him on Monday, hiring Chris Kapilovic to be his offensive line coach and running game coordinator. Kapilovic had the same roles at Colorado under Tucker last year in his only season at the school. - AP College Football

(DS#44 WR) Jr/2022 WR Jalen NailorMichigan State
News Source: AP College Football
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  Michigan State is hiring Chris Kapilovic as its offensive line coach and running game coordinator. The school announced the move Monday night. Kapilovic filled those same roles last season at Colorado under new Michigan State coach Mel Tucker. The Spartans hired Tucker last week following Mark Dantonio's retirement. Tucker brings the 51-year-old Kapilovic with him to East Lansing. "Chris is very passionate about the game of football and is a master motivator," Tucker said in a statement. "He's a great teacher who puts a premium on technique and fundamentals." Tucker has also been an assistant at North Carolina, Southern Mississippi, Missouri State and Alabama State. He was the offensive coordinator at North Carolina before his brief stint at Colorado. - AP College Football

(DS#27 RB) Jr/2022 RB LaDarius JeffersonMichigan State
News Source: AP College Football
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  Mike Tressel and Ron Burton are remaining on the defensive staff for Michigan State's football team. The team announced via its Twitter account Saturday that the two assistants would be back. A team spokesman said Burton will coach the defensive line, and Tressel's role is to be determined. The Spartans hired Mel Tucker as their new coach earlier in the week after Mark Dantonio's retirement. Tressel was the defensive coordinator this past season under Dantonio and was also a linebackers coach. Burton coached defensive tackles. - AP College Football

(DS#48 OLB) Sr/2021 OLB Antjuan SimmonsMichigan State
News Source: AP College Football
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  02/12/20 - Kevin JarvisSr/2021, Michigan State, 6-3, 317 (DS#6 OG) + More +

  Michigan State hired Mel Tucker as its football coach Wednesday, rallying to land a veteran leader with ties to the school who decided to leave Colorado after a single season. The Spartans lured Tucker away from Colorado with a six-year contract worth about $30 million after appearing to be interested in coaches including Luke Fickell, Robert Saleh and Pat Shurmur. Tucker replaces Mark Dantonio, who retired two weeks ago after 13 mostly successful seasons. "Mel brings a championship pedigree, NFL experience, connections to our region, success on the recruiting trail and head coaching experience to our program," athletic director Bill Beekman said. Michigan State's board formally approved Tucker's contract. Colorado hired Tucker in December 2018, and gave him an opportunity to run the Pac-12 program after he was Georgia's defensive coordinator. He was given a five-year, $14.75 million contract to lead the Buffaloes, and they were 5-7 last season to match the program's record from each of the previous two years. "We are disappointed to see coach Tucker leave,” Colorado athletic director Rick George said. - AP College Football

(DS#6 OG) Sr/2021 OG Kevin JarvisMichigan State
News Source: AP College Football
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  Mark Dantonio announced his retirement Tuesday, ending a 13-year run as coach in which he guided Michigan State to heights the Spartans hadn't reached in decades. The school announced Dantonio's decision in a news release. Defensive coordinator Mike Tressel will be the acting head coach while Michigan State seeks a replacement for Dantonio. Dantonio went 114-57 as Michigan State's coach and won Big Ten titles in 2010, 2013 and 2015. The last of those three seasons included a trip to the College Football Playoff, but the Spartans declined after that. They went 7-6 this past season. - AP College Football

(DS#23 QB) rJr/2022 QB Rocky LombardiMichigan State
News Source: AP College Football
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  01/10/20 - *Cody WhiteJr/2020, Michigan State, 6-2, 218 (DS#41 WR) + More +

  Michigan State receiver Cody White said Friday he's forgoing his senior season and entering the 2020 NFL draft. White made the announcement on social media. "After a tough decision, I have decided to pursue my lifelong dream of playing in the NFL," White said in a message posted on his Twitter account. White was Michigan State's leading receiver this season, finishing with 66 catches for 922 yards and six touchdowns. In three seasons, he caught 143 passes for 1,967 yards and 12 TDs for the Spartans. - AP College Football

(DS#41 WR) Jr/2020 WR *Cody WhiteMichigan State
News Source: AP College Football
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  Brian Lewerke threw for 320 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score in Michigan State's 27-21 victory over Wake Forest on Friday night in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Lewerke threw a 10-yard pass to wide receiver Cody White in the third quarter to put the Spartans (7-6) ahead 27-21 and they survived down the stretch to give embattled coach Mark Dantonio his sixth bowl victory. Wake Forest (8-5) missed a chance to win nine games for just the third time in program history.

Michigan State tried to give away the game twice in the fourth, the first time on Lewerke's shovel pass to tight end Trenton Gillison inside the 10 that was stripped and recovered by linebacker Ja'Cquez Williams at the 6. The Deamon Deacons failed to score on the drive, and handed Michigan State another chance to seal the victory. Again, the Spartans couldn't put it away when Matt Coghlin was wide left on a 28-yard field goal attempt with 3:03 left Wake Forest's last chance ended on an incomplete pass on its own 16. White finished with 97 yards receiving and Elijah Collins had 96 yards rushing. Dantonio said he would play mutliple QBs to give the program a better feel for what it had on the depth chart to work with next season. But Michigan State stuck with Lewerke, in his fifth-year and making his 38th career start, and he responded in the clutch when he connected with White. Lewerke passed Connor Cook (9,403) to become Michigan State's career leader in total offense and was the bowl MVP. - AP College Football


(DS#15 QB) rSr/2020 QB Brian LewerkeMichigan State
News Source: AP College Football
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  Almost a year to the day after breaking his leg, Kenny Willekes is ready for his Michigan State swan song. As usual, he's trying to think of himself as an underdog. "Always," he said. "That's the way you've got to play, that's the mentality I play with. I play with a chip on my shoulder regardless. I still feel like I got a lot to prove." Willekes already holds a school record with 49 1/2 tackles for loss in his career, and the senior defensive end has nine sacks this season. But the honor that best exemplifies his path at Michigan State may be the one he received earlier this month. Willekes was the 2019 winner of the Burlsworth Trophy, which goes to the nation's most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on.

Brandon Burlsworth was a walk-on who eventually became a standout at Arkansas. He died in a car accident 11 days after being drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 1999. The award bearing his name has gone to players such as Baker Mayfield and Hunter Renfrow. "It's pretty cool. Everyone loves the underdog. Everyone loves the underdog story," Willekes said. "There's a lot of people that truly are the underdog, and they're working to get noticed, so the fact that they brought that trophy in to acknowledge some of those underdogs and show other walk-ons that there's a way to do it - it can be done, and here's an example of it." Michigan State faces Wake Forest in the Pinstripe Bowl on Friday. For Willekes, it's a chance to finish his college career on a positive note - and another opportunity to move on from his difficult experience last year, when Willekes broke his leg in a 7-6 loss to Oregon in the Redbox Bowl. - AP College Football


(DS#13 DE) Sr/2020 DE Kenny WillekesMichigan State
News Source: AP College Football
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  2019 BURLSWORTH TROPHY WINNER: Michigan State's Kenny Willekes was named tenth winner of the Burlsworth Trophy in Springdale, Ark. at a ceremony hosted by the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation and the Springdale (Ark.) Rotary Club. The award is given to the nation's most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on. On hand to present the trophy to Willekes was Marty Burlsworth, Chairman and CEO of the Burlsworth Trophy. Willekes, a preseason All-America selection and last year's Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, has 59 tackles this season with 24 solo tackles, including 6.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries. Willekes was named Defensive Player of the Week by the Big Ten and the Walter Camp Football Foundation after recording seven tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks against Tulsa earlier this season.

Willekes, named a Burlsworth semifinalist in 2018, did not receive scholarship offers from any Division I schools. He was invited to walk-on at Michigan State, where he redshirted as a true freshman in 2015. Willekes was named a mid-season All-American by Rivals.com in 2019. Willekes, 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, suffered a broken fibula in a bowl game to end last season and rehabbed in the offseason. He is the active career leader in tackles for loss per game (1.22). Other finalists for the award were University of California safety and returner Ashtyn Davis and University of Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. - Burlsworth Trophy


(DS#13 DE) Sr/2020 DE Kenny WillekesMichigan State
News Source: Burlsworth Trophy
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  2019 ALL-BIG TEN SECOND TEAM (COACHES): DL Kenny Willekes, Michigan State,...Team captain became MSU's all-time leader in tackles for loss on Senior Day with 2.5 TFLs vs. Maryland and now has 49.5 TFLs in his career...leads MSU and ranks tied for fourth in the Big Ten with a career-high nine sacks...ranks first among all Big Ten defensive linemen with 69 tackles...leads all active FBS players in career tackles for loss (1.27 per game)...has 14.5 tackles for loss in 2019...Burlsworth Trophy finalist...first Spartan defensive player to win the Governor's Award (team MVP) twice...2018 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and 2018 first-team All-American...has 220 tackles overall in 39 career games. - Michigan State Football

(DS#13 DE) Sr/2020 DE Kenny WillekesMichigan State
News Source: Michigan State Football
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  2019 ALL-BIG TEN THIRD TEAM (COACHES): DL Raequan Williams, Michigan State,...Team captain has started 41 consecutive games at defensive tackle, the longest active streak on the team and tied for the most in the Mark Dantonio era (Shilique Calhoun)...has a career-high five sacks this season...has 41 tackles overall and seven TFLs...ranks 19th in MSU history with 28.5 tackles for loss in his career...also named MSU's Sportsmanship Award honoree...was a third-team All-Big Ten choice by the coaches and media as a junior in 2018 and an honorable mention selection by the media in 2017. - Michigan State Football

(DS#16 DT) rSr/2020 DT Raequan WilliamsMichigan State
News Source: Michigan State Football
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  2019 ALL-BIG TEN HONORABLE MENTION (COACHES): Elijah Collins,...Collins is averaging a team-best 74.3 yards rushing per game (201 carries for 946 yards; 4.4 avg.), which ranks fifth in the Big Ten. His 74.3 ypg also ranks first in the conference and ninth in the country for freshman running backs. Collins leads the team with five rushing touchdowns. In his first career start at tailback on Sept. 7 against Western Michigan, Collins recorded 192 rushing yards on 17 carries, the second most by a Spartan freshman in a single game (Javon Ringer had 194 yards at Illinois in 2005).

In addition, Collins' 192 rushing yards were the most by a freshman starting running back in school history. Collins had three rushes of 20-plus yards (career-long 58-yarder in third quarter; 29-yarder on second play from scrimmage; 24-yarder in second quarter). Collins' 892 rushing yards are the most by a Spartan freshman since Sedrick Irvin had 1,067 as a true freshman in 1996. In addition, he is also the first Spartan freshman to record three 100-yard rushing games (192 vs Western Michigan, 170 vs. Illinois, 109 vs. Rutgers) since Ringer in 2005. Collins redshirted in 2018 and played a total of six offensive snaps in three games. - Michigan State Football


(DS#11 RB) rSo/2023 RB Elijah CollinsMichigan State
News Source: Michigan State Football
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  2019 ALL-BIG TEN HONORABLE MENTION (COACHES): ST Jake Hartbarger,...Ranks fourth in the Big Ten in punting (43.1 avg.)...has played in 53 career games, one shy of the MSU record...named to final watch list for the Ray Guy Award...has placed 17 punts inside the 20...has booted 16 punts 50-plus yards...was also an honorable mention choice as a sophomore in 2017. - Michigan State Football

(DS#11 P) rSr/2020 P Jake HartbargerMichigan State
News Source: Michigan State Football
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