Michigan State Spartans

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 12: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans leads his team onto the field before a college football game against the against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Spartan Stadium on November 12, 2016 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
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Mark Dantonio won’t lose long-time assistant to head-coaching job at Div. II school

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At least for now and when it comes to one particular assistant, Mark Dantonio won’t have a hole to fill on his Michigan State coaching staff.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Spartans offensive line coach Mark Staten was one of five finalists for the head-coaching job at Div. II Northern Michigan. On his Facebook page Thursday, by way of ESPN.com, Staten indicated that he will be staying at MSU.

Left unsaid is whether Staten withdrew from the search process because he wanted to remain in East Lansing or if he became aware the program had decided to go in a direction that didn’t include him.

Decision was made after a lot of prayer, talking with family, friends and mentors. I appreciate all of those involved as I will continue to battle on as a Spartan. God Bless and Go Green!

Staten has been a part of Dantonio’s coaching staff for the past 13 seasons, the first three at Cincinnati and the last 10 at MSU. He’s been the Spartans’ line coach for the past five years.

NFL calls, Mich. St.’s Malik McDowell answers

EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 02:  Malik McDowell #4 of the Michigan State Spartans works against Harrison Monk #71 of the Furman Paladins during the first half of a game at Spartan Stadium on September 2, 2016 in East Lansing, Michigan.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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When it comes to college players taking the early cannonball leap into the NFL draft pool, there will be at least a couple of surprises and/or headscratchers.  This one would be neither.

In a statement on his personal Twitter account as well as a press release through Michigan State, Malik McDowell confirmed that he will be foregoing his senior season in East Lansing in order to enter the 2017 NFL draft.  While describing it as “very difficult,” it’s been a decision that has been expected.

Despite missing the last three games this season with an injury, McDowell led all Spartans in tackles for loss with seven. The 6-6, 275-pound defensive lineman was named first-team All-Big Ten by The Associated Press and earned second-team honors from the league’s coaches and media.

In 36 career games (23 starts), McDowell has been credited with 24.5 for losses and 7.5 sacks.

He’s currently projected as a likely first-round pick in the draft.  Back in August, McDowell stated he wouldn’t leave early if he wasn’t projected as a top three selection.

“Malik McDowell is an extremely gifted player who has demonstrated the ability and mindset to succeed at the next level,” said MSU head coach Mark Dantonio in a statement. “His pre-draft numbers project him as a likely first-round selection. We are thankful for his contributions to the program that significantly impacted our recent success, culminating with last year’s Big Ten Championship and an appearance in the College Football Playoff. We wish him the best and are excited for the opportunity in the next chapter of his life as he pursues his dream to play in the NFL.”

Malik Zaire’s release from Notre Dame is unconditional

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 10: Malik Zaire #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish throws a pass in the second half against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Notre Dame Stadium on September 10, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Not surprisingly, there’s already a market for what’s expected to be one of the most sought-after transfers of the upcoming offseason. Somewhat surprisingly, there’s been an apparent about-face when it comes to said player’s restrictions.

Earlier this week it was reported that Malik Zaire would be granted a release from his Notre Dame scholarship, with the quarterback’s intent being to transfer and use his final season of eligibility elsewhere. Following a meeting with head coach Brian Kelly Wednesday, that request was granted — albeit with reported stipulations.

Zaire had confirmed to ESPN.com that he would not be permitted to transfer to any program on Notre Dame’s 2017 schedule, with the exception of North Carolina. That initially meant that Temple, Georgia, Boston College, Michigan State, Miami of Ohio, USC, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Miami (Fla.), Navy and Stanford would’ve been off-limits for Zaire.

However, since that initial report, it’s been updated to state that Zaire has been granted an unconditional release.  It’s unclear if Zaire was mistaken in stating that there were conditions on his release or if the football program subsequently relented.

Florida, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin are believed to be among the list of potential transfer destinations.  UNC, depending on Mitch Trubisky‘s NFL decision, could be a possibility as well.

“I just want, of course, to do what I wanted to do at Notre Dame, and that’s win a national championship,” Zaire told the South Bend Tribune Wednesday said when discussing his next move. “For me, it’s finding the best fit where I can help bring the team something that I can add and help bring a national championship. I felt like I could do that at Notre Dame, and I still feel the same way.

“I feel like I’m the best quarterback in the country. This opportunity is good for me. I’ve got one shot to do it, and you only need one shot to do it. That’s what I’m looking for.”

Zaire expects to graduate in December, meaning he’d be eligible immediately at whatever FBS program he ultimately lands.

Notre Dame QB Malik Zaire expected to be released as graduate transfer Wednesday

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 30:  Malik Zaire #8 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs with the ball against the LSU Tigers during the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl at LP Field on December 30, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Malik Zaire‘s career at Notre Dame started with a bang, and it will end with a thud.

Zaire led Notre Dame to an unexpected win over LSU in the 2014 Music City Bowl — Zaire was named MVP of that game — and posted Heisman-like numbers in his 2015 debut against Texas and Virginia, but an ankle injury derailed his career and he never recovered.

Zaire won the starting job to start this season but ceded control to DeShone Kizer in the second half of the Irish’s opening-night loss at Texas and never wrestled it back.

And now, according to a report from Irish Illustrated, Zaire is set to leave.

The site reports that Zaire will meet with Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly on Wednesday morning, at which time he’s expected to receive his release from the school. A graduate transfer, Irish Illustrated lists Florida, Pittsburgh, Michigan State and Wisconsin as possible destinations.

The timing of the report is interesting with DeShone Kizer listed as a possible first-round pick by some mock drafts. Kizer has not formally entered the draft, though.

Zaire finishes his Notre Dame career completing 58-of-98 passes for 816 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing 72 times for 324 yards and two touchdowns.

Arrested for misdemeanor assault, Mich. St.’s Demetrious Cox claims he ‘was falsely accused’

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 12: Defensive back Demetrious Cox #7 of the Michigan State Spartans runs back an interception for a touchdown in the first quarter during a college football game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Spartan Stadium on November 12, 2016 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
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And now we know a little bit more of the rest of the story.

In what would have been his final game at Michigan State, Demetrious Cox was suspended for the blowout loss to Penn State this past Saturday.  At the time, head coach Mark Dantonio labeled it a violation of unspecified team rules that led to the safety’s suspension.

According to the Lansing State Journal, however, Cox as arrested and cited for misdemeanor assault early Wednesday morning. In a phone conversation with the State Journal, the senior co-captain claimed that he had been “falsely accused” of the assault because he matched the description of the alleged suspect.

“I told them everything that I did (that night), and then he said (I matched) the description of somebody they’re looking for, and then they put me in handcuffs,” Cox said. “I was falsely accused of something, and it’s going to work itself out, and I’m gonna move on.”

Cox has yet to be formally charged.

After starting 14 games last season, Cox had started 10 of 11 in 2016.  The fifth-year senior’s 55 tackles were fifth on the Spartans this season.