Mark Dantonio Looks For Big Results For Record Seven Spartans Invited to the NFL Combine

Coach Ken Mannie working players out at Spartan NFL Pro Day.
Coach Ken Mannie working players out at Spartan NFL Pro Day.

East Lansing, Mi

The Michigan State Spartan football program’s resurgence under Mark Dantonio is simply amazing. That is truly being objective. Mark Dantonio has done a terrific job improving the roster to the point that young men with bright NFL futures now every season don’t see the field. That says something.

The NFL Combine in Indianapolis, IN is being held February 23-29 and those invites are more sought after than a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket. The Spartan tied a record by getting seven players invited.

Dantonio said of the combine being the next big event for his program and the off season. Dantonio said, “The next thing up is the combine. We have seven players going to the combine this year. That is exciting as well. There is a reason we have won as many games as we have won. I think it is recruiting, it is coaching and I think also it is having great players. We certainly are well represented in the NFL and will continue to be as we move through the time here.”

So what does Dantonio think a record tying seven players being invited to the NFL for the combine say about his program? “When you look back at the fact that those seven players played on that Rose Bowl team, and the people that have played previous like the Max Bullough’s and some of the other guys that have played, like the Connor Cook’s this year and all of the people in between you can see why we were successful. We had a lot of players that have gone on to play at the next level. I think that is what you have to have if you are going to win the Big Ten championship and play on a national level like we have had.”

Those seven players are Shilique Calhoun, Joel Heath, Connor Cook, Aaron Burbridge, Lawrence LT Thomas, Jack Conklin and Jack Allen. Each year at the combine some player will stand out with some amazing physical display of talent. Does Dantonio think that guy will be one of his seven? What can they do to wow at the NFL’s annual meat market?

He said, “I think Aaron Burbridge is going to run in the four fours. I think Jack Conklin is going to run extremely well, extremely well. Jack Allen is who he is, but he is going to jump well. When you look at our defensive line, Shilique Calhoun, LT Lawrence Thomas, Joel Heath three guys and they should be outstanding. Then Connor Cook makes seven. We have guys that are going to represent very very well. It’s the next phase that you go through. Football is a year round thing. We have seen that happen and then college football has become so big along with the NFL has big as it is, they sort of run through each other there. They will perform very very well. I expect all of those guys to be drafted.”

The record number for Spartans picked in a draft is 10. That happened when the draft was much bigger and happened in both 1962 and 1973. The most players selected in the modern draft is nine in 2000 the most under Dantonio was 2012 when MSU had six. MSU could tie or even set a program record this year, with some great pro day performances on March 16, 2016 at the Duffy Daugherty Football building.