The attrition of the Michigan State roster continues.
When speaking with reporters Tuesday, Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio announced that cornerback Vayante Copeland is no longer a member of the team. Copeland, one of the team’s most-experienced defensive backs, started seven games over the past two seasons, both of which were cut short by injury.
In 2015, his redshirt freshman season, Copeland suffered a neck injury after beginning the year as a starter. He returned in 2016 and was a five-game starter before going down with a broken foot in practice.
Dantonio told reporters that Copeland’s departure was not a disciplinary measure.
“There’s certain things you’ve got to be able to make as you process yourself through from a junior to a senior,” the coach said per MLive.com. “We wish Vayante the best, but he’s not going to be able to be here.”
Copeland’s absence means 11 scholarship players from last year’s team with remaining eligibility have left Michigan State under various circumstances. Four players were dismissed following sexual assault charges: Donnie Corley, Josh King and Demetric Vance in one incident and Auston Robertson in another incident. Linebacker Jon Reschke left the team after making what he said was an “insensitive and totally regrettable comment” to a teammate. Lineman Thiyo Lukusa said he lost his passion for football and decided to leave the team while defensive backs Kenney Lyke (academics), Drake Martinez (unknown) and Kaleel Gaines (unknown) have also departed. Montae Nicholson and Malik McDowell left for the NFL.
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That number could increase with the status of defensive end Demetrius Cooper up in the air. Cooper, a senior who started 11 games in 2016, remains suspended because of an assault and battery charge from last year. He also may have violated terms of his plea agreement, but there’s a chance his charge could be reduced.
Dantonio also addressed the status of cornerback Tyson Smith and the news that defensive lineman Cassius Peat will not be returning to East Lansing after a year away.
Smith revealed last month that he suffered a stroke last year and tweeted Monday that he gets “cleared this month.” Despite the optimism from Smith, who started four games in 2016, Dantonio was a little more guarded about his football future.
“I have my concerns about whether he’s able to play again or not, but that’s an ongoing process,” Dantonio said per ESPN.com. “He’s been a good player for us but I don’t want to really speak to his medical situation.”
Finally, with regards to Peat, Dantonio confirmed that the defensive lineman will not join the team. Peat began his career at MSU in 2015 and planned to return before the upcoming season, but told the Detroit Free Press he was “blindsided” last week when MSU told him he could not rejoin the squad.
Dantonio didn’t offer any details about what changed.
“We’ve been in contact with Cassius throughout the semester. There are certain things you have to get done before you get back. It’s one of those things, but I don’t want to speak bad about anybody,” Dantonio said.
Since the news got out, Peat said he has received interest from plenty of other programs. He expects to return to the field in 2017.
For more Michigan State news, visit SpartanMag.com.
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