Answering your Michigan State Football Questions and Emails…

MSU vs Alabama 2016 Cotton Bowl.  Photo courtesy of Tom Ackerson

Hondo, is Vayante Copeland planning to play next year? We would obviously love to see him back where he was before the injury, but a vertebrae injury sounds career ending. We certainly would prefer he can walk around campus and take classes than be permanently injured. What does his future look like from a health perspective? Scott Lehr

I asked Dantonio recently and he expects him back this fall for sure. At least that is the plan now, but we shall see. At this time, we all agree we just want him well. In fact, I asked him if he expects Vayante and Dennis Finley back by the start of the season and he said, “Yeah, that would be my thought process, but I think some of it, with Vayante, I think there are some different things that they’re getting readings on as well, but I think Finley for sure.”

Dear Hondo: The success of the 2016 Spartan football class is due in no small part to the leadership of Messiah DeWeaver and Cameron Chambers. Those two forged a social brotherhood with other prospects that was amazing to see unfold. One should expect that it will also serve them well as they prepare for the field and matriculate in the classroom. Is there a concerted effort to identify that kind of leadership for the 2017 class? I was hoping that Hunter Rison might be that person, given the Rison legacy at MSU, but he decommitted. When will the 2017 class find its leader, and whom might it be? Glenn T. Marrichi

Well, Messiah was really lightning in a bottle. I am not sure MSU has had a football recruit like him that showed that kind of leadership. Drew Stanton was one of the best leaders MSU has had and he didn’t impact recruiting like that. Granted, today’s social media love affair certainly helps. I don’t look for that. That stuff happens and happens RARELY. Chambers jumped right in with him, and to get lightning in a bottle TWICE is amazing. Plus, remember it has to be a high profile recruit that can lead with so many guys that want to play with an elite player.

I just read a detailed prospective lineup for next year’s team, and the only Kick/Punt returner they mentioned was Shelton. Don't we have some young guys who were ATH recruits who could help out returning punts? Kaleel Gaines springs to mind. Who do you suggest might compete for those jobs? I don't think having Shelton as the #1 WR *and* KR and PR is wise. Too many eggs in one basket. Jon Reed

I think that they are going to give some of the young guys looks. Shelton is penciled in now, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t love for someone else to get it. Penciled in because pencils come with erasers. If they can get someone else just as good it would hedge their bets on Shelton getting an injury. MacGarrett Kings was terrible as a punt returner and his absence at that spot will be an upgrade for MSU. That isn’t a personal attack; just simply fact. He made so many mental mistakes, sadly on and off the field.

Hondo, now that the drama of Signing Day is over, do we know if there a list of gray shirts? That would be interesting to see. Do both groups sign actual letters of intent? Thanks, Mike Accoe

Bradley Robinson, the long snapper, is a gray shirt. Altogether, according to Dantonio, there is one gray shirt and seven preferred walk-ons.

Fans are still bristling over the Bama loss. Getting beat is one thing, but totally pummeled is another. The players didn't deserve it. The last time the coaching staff gave it away was the ND loss, when the controversy was Maxwell or Cook. Your term of arrogant fits well; you might also consider hubris. How the coaching staff adjusts will determine if the program progresses onward-and-upward or plateaus. Player quality is not an excuse. Warm Regards, Jim McClain

Agree. Mark Dantonio is a great coach and his tenure at MSU has been amazing. On that day and in that game he and his staff let the team down. More on that in the next magazine.

Hi Hondo, given Coach Dantonio’s history of loyalty to his staff (not altogether a bad thing), it seemed doubtful he would make any changes right after the Cotton Bowl. That chance seems even more remote now. Would you agree? Tim Price

Yes. No one will be let go.

Hondo, I keep reading that MSU has added about 11 walk-on players for football this signing period and three gray shirts. Is that accurate? Henry Rolle

Hi Henry. I have heard all of that noise as well, but as mentioned above it is only noise.

There you go everyone. That is your weekly MSU football questions and answers article. Make sure you send your questions to and put in the subject line Football Q/A. Thank you.