EAST LANSING — On a day when Michigan State football welcomed its newest players, Mel Tucker gave some glimpses into some of the decisions his current Spartans are making for their future.
Most notably that offensive linemen Nick Samac and JD Duplain both plan to return for their COVID-waiver extra seasons, along with defensive end Khris Bogle.
Yet there are a few others whom Tucker did not mention, among them linebacker Jacoby Windmon and running back Elijah Collins.
“Some of these guys are still deciding, and we’ve got a couple of guys that I think after they see what we did today are gonna really want to come back and be a part of it,” Tucker said Wednesday. “So we’ll have to see.”
RAINER SABIN:Why Mel Tucker & MSU’s push for sustained success starts now
Windmon could be the biggest question mark, after a stellar start that saw him earn three Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors and two national weekly awards at both defensive end and linebacker before he was suspended for the final four games for a postgame altercation in the Michigan Stadium tunnel. The former UNLV transfer is facing one count of misdemeanor assault and battery in Washtenaw County for the Oct. 29 incidents.
Collins, a redshirt senior, finished his fifth season strong and posted 107 rushing yards and two touchdowns along with 43 receiving yards on four catches in a loss to Indiana and eclipsed 1,500 career rushing yards this fall. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Detroit native tied Jalen Berger with a team-high six rushing touchdowns and was second at 318 yards on 70 carries.
Although Jarek Broussard left for the NFL draft, MSU added transfer running back Nathan Carter and got a commitment from Jaren Mangham both on Wednesday.
“Along with Berger, Jordon Simmons and Davion Primm, we feel like we’ve improved our running back room,” Tucker said during his signing day news conference.
Perhaps the biggest retentions are keeping the two offensive linemen for a fifth season.
SIGN RIGHT HERE:Michigan State opts for mix-and-match fixes with transfer portal and prep players
Samac started all 12 games at center, leading MSU with 803 snaps in 2022, and the 6-4, 300-pound native of Mentor, Ohio, has 22 career starts in his first four seasons among his 38 games played.
Like Samac, Duplain earned a starting role immediately as a true freshman in 2019. The 6-4, 300-pounder from Strongsville, Ohio, has started 30 straight games at left guard and 35 of his 41 career games.
Their veteran presence should help bring along a group of younger guys in the offensive trenches and help offset the departures of Matt Carrick, Jarrett Horst and Brian Greene.
“We got quite a few linemen coming back including Samac and JD Duplain and big Spence (Spencer Brown),” Tucker said. “So we feel good about our O-line room right now.”
Bogle, who arrived last winter as a transfer from Florida, played in just four games before suffering what ended up being a season-ending left leg injury against Minnesota. He has one year of eligibility remaining.
Tucker gave personnel updates at a few other positions, although he did not recap the defensive backs and about the linebackers only said, “We have quite a few guys coming back at that position.”
Here are the players Tucker mentioned by name he expects back:
∙ QB: Returning starter Payton Thorne, backup Noah Kim and third-string Katin Houser;
∙ WR: Returning starters Keon Colman and Tre Mosley, along with Montorie Foster, Christian Fitzpatrick, Antonio Gates Jr., Jaron Glover and Tyrell Henry;
∙ TE: Maliq Carr, Jack Nickel, Michael Masunas and Hamp Fay;
∙ Germany: Bogle, Jeff Pietrowski, Itayvion “Tank” Brown, Avery Dunn, Zion Young, James Schott and Ken Talley (Pietrowski played three games before suffering a season-ending left leg injury, and Young and Brown were suspended for the final four games for the incident at Michigan);
∙ DT: Simeon Barrow, Maverick Hansen, Derrick Harmon and Alex VanSumeren.
∙ Special teams: Punter Ryan Eckley, long snapper Hank Pepper and kicker Stephen Rusnak.
When the Spartans reconvene to begin winter conditioning after classes resume Jan. 9, a number of the players who signed Wednesday will join them.
Eight of the 12 transfers currently are scheduled to arrive after the New Year: running back Carter (Connecticut), defensive tackle Tumise Adeleye (Texas A&M), offensive lineman Keyshawn Blackstock (Coffeyville CC in Kansas), defensive tackle Dre Butler (Liberty), tight end Ademola Faleye (Norfolk State), tight end Tyneil Hopper (Boise State), defensive lineman Jarrett Jackson (Florida State) and cornerback Semar Melvin (Wisconsin). It is unclear if three others who have committed that Tucker could not talk about — Mangham (South Florida), linebacker Aaron Alexander (Massachusetts) and tight end Jaylan Franklin (Wisconsin) — could join them.
More:Michigan State football’s 2023 recruiting class: What to like about each player
MSU also has six freshmen, five of them four-star prospects, who signed Wednesday and will enroll early to participate in conditioning and spring practice: offensive linemen Cole Dellinger and Stanton Ramil; defensive ends Andrew Depaepe and Bai Jobe; tight end Brennan Parachek; and cornerback Chance Rucker.
Tucker was asked if he planned to make any changes to his coaching staff following the Spartans’ 5-7 campaign that ended without a bowl berth for the second time in his first three seasons.
He quickly rebuffed the notion, at least from his end.
“I haven’t planned to make any changes, but you know there’s always opportunities for guys,” he said. “I’m never gonna try to hold anyone back if they have an opportunity where they think they can better themselves. But I don’t plan on making changes at this time.”
Contact Chris Solari:email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari.
Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.