Enoch Smith Jr. leavs MSU

MSU DT Enoch Smith leaves program

EAST LANSING – Michigan State’s already-thin defensive line depth took another hit this afternoon.

Sophomore Enoch Smith Jr. announced via Twitter he is leaving the program. He is the fifth defensive lineman to leave the Spartans since their College Football Playoff loss to Alabama in December.

Smith, in his tweet, thanked MSU fans and coach Mark Dantonio, as well as current defensive line coach Ron Burton and former Spartan assistants Pat Narduzzi and Dan Roushar.

“I have enjoyed my time spent here, but my time here has come to an end…,” Smith wrote. “God has a plan for me and I am excited for the future. I am more than confident that the team has what it takes to accomplish their goals of going #B2B (Back 2 Back).”

Smith entered preseason camp as the No. 3 defensive tackle, but he dropped to fourth-string on the depth chart for Friday’s opener against Furman. The 6-foot-2, 293-pound Smith made one tackle in three games last season after redshirting in 2014. Rivals.com rated Smith a four-star recruit out of Mount Carmel High in Illinois.

The loss of Smith leaves Malik McDowell as the lone returning defensive tackle with game experience with the Spartans. Graduate transfer Kevin Williams previously played for Nebraska. The rest of MSU’s interior linemen – sophomore Gerald Owens, redshirt freshmen Raequan Williams and Keyonta Stallworth, and true freshmen Mike Panasiuk and Naquan Jones – have not played a snap of college football.

“We have a lot of players that can play at the front position, and I think that will be good,” Dantonio said Tuesday.

The Spartans lost two linemen in the spring and another during fall camp to transfer.

Defensive tackle Craig Evans and defensive end Montez Sweat left the program in April “for personal reasons,” according to the school. Sweat has landed at a junior college in Mississippi and earlier this week committed to play for Mississippi State in 2017. Evans is on the roster at Arizona Western Community College. Redshirt freshman defensive end Cassius Peat left MSU’s program a little more than a week ago and reportedly will play for Eastern Arizona junior college.

MSU also expected a fifth lineman, defensive tackle Damon Knox, to apply for a sixth year of eligibility, but Knox opted to quit football following spring workouts to pursue a career in law enforcement.

■D-line depth: Williams atop the depth chart at defensive tackle is a sign coaches have developed a trust in the Nebraska transfer’s ability. Staying healthy has been the one thing that kept the 6-2, 281-pound defensive tackle off the field for the Cornhuskers.

“Oh, it’s a we thing. It’s not a me thing,” Williams said Tuesday. “I came in here and already had that mentality. But it doesn’t take long being around this program, being around these guys, to really feel like you’re one of them.”

As for Gabe Sherrod – a former basketball player who arrived at defensive end after playing offensive line, quarterback, receiver and tight end in his football career – co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett said the 6-3, 250-pound second-stringer appears to be adjusting to the speed of major college football in practice after playing for Football Championship Subdivision Delaware State.

“They’ve pretty much held up to what we saw because we really looked into them,” Barnett said of Williams and Sherrod.


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