Michigan State notebook: Davis adds experience to Spartan defense

Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND – It’s been a while for Ed Davis.

The last time the linebacker stepped on the field for Michigan State’s football team was on Jan. 1, 2015, when the Spartans pulled off a 42-41 Cotton Bowl win over Baylor.

An ACL injury early in preseason camp 2015, Davis’ fifth season, put his career in doubt. The Spartans went through the application process and, just over a week ago, Davis was granted a sixth year of eligibility.

His first availability was Saturday night against Notre Dame, when he added valuable experience to a stable of linebackers loaded with talent.

“Bottom line is, he is now officially cleared to play and all of the sudden there is a real light at the end of the tunnel,” Spartan co-defensive coordinator Mike Tressel said earlier this week. “He can see it. He can taste it. It’s not just talk anymore. So, all of the sudden it feels better because he can really play.”

The three-year letterman (2012-14) has recorded 80 career tackles while playing in 40 games with 12 starts. He has 16.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks.

As a junior in 2014, Davis earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors after ranking fourth on the team with 58 stops and third in tackles for loss (12 for 48 yards) and sacks (7 for 33 yards). He was the 2014 defensive recipient of MSU’s Outstanding Underclass Lineman Award.

Davis will be worked into the rotation at linebacker slowly, while also seeing time on special teams.

“We’re very excited to hear the news about Ed Davis receiving his sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said earlier in the week. “We felt all along throughout this process that Ed would get an opportunity to play this season once the paperwork was submitted and reviewed. Ed fulfilled his requirements by earning his degree this summer, so it’s great to see him get rewarded after missing all of last year with a knee injury.

“Ed is an outstanding football player and has persevered through this past year. We’re looking forward to him getting back in a Green and White uniform for the Spartans this fall.”

Home cookin’

Mark Staten, a Michigan State assistant coach throughout Dantonio’s 10 years at the helm, is a native of Dowagiac. He followed Dantonio from Cincinnati, where he started in 2004.

The Spartan offensive line coach for the last six years, Staten has been a first-hand witness to the evolution of the offense in college football.

“It has changed,” Staten said. “That is what still makes us unique, is that we still like to run power. We still like to go at you. That’s helpful because teams aren’t built for that. Teams are built for speed. Teams are built to stop the spread and the running around and the races and ghosts and motions and all of that.

“By us being able to put our hand in the dirt and line up with two tight ends and a fullback (it’s a difference). I tell (fullback Prescott Line) he’s a guard with privileges. Having a guy like Prescott, who is going to get under your chin and stay on you, it’s different. (Teams) don’t see it in practice, so it helps us.”

Built tough

Thinking of the Michigan State program conjures the notion of a car commercial.

“A Dantonio program is what it is,” said Tressel, who, like Staten, followed Dantonio from Cincinnati. “It is built on toughness. It is built on relationships. It is built on doing things the right way. In those regards, that is what we tried to do at Cincinnati (2004-06) and that is what we have tried to do here and the philosophy has not changed. That is the biggest similarity.”

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio, left, shakes hands with Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly at midfield following Notre Dame's 36-28 loss to Michigan State in an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN