Four Spartans back for spring practice

Updated: March 24, 2010, 12:16 PM ET
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com

Four Michigan State players convicted in last year's residence hall assault have been reinstated for the start of spring practice Tuesday.

Wide receivers Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham, cornerback Chris L. Rucker and offensive lineman J'Michael Deane all are back with the team after being suspended, coach Mark Dantonio said Tuesday.

"You're going to fall down at times," Dantonio told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "We have the same problems that society has in a lot of ways, and because we live in a fish bowl a little bit, there's going to be higher consequences, more public scrutiny and things of that nature.

"But you do always have to believe in your young people. That helps them grow, and that's what we'll do."

All four players pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery in a Nov. 22 incident at Rather Hall and were sentenced earlier this month to probation and community service.

Wide receiver Myles White, who Monday was sentenced to probation and community service, and nose tackle Oren Wilson, who faces sentencing March 31, both will transfer, Dantonio said. The coach said the status of wide receiver Fred Smith, sentenced last week to five days in jail plus probation and community service, won't be determined until his legal situation is resolved.

Eleven current or former Spartans pleaded guilty to assault in the incident, which took place following a fraternity potluck function. The two players reportedly at the center of the incident, running back Glenn Winston and safety Roderick Jenrette, were dismissed Nov. 24.

Winston on Monday was sentenced to six months in jail, while Jenrette received a 90-day jail sentence Friday. Running back Ashton Leggett and defensive end Jamiihr Williams, who both received probation and community service, have left the team.

Wide receivers Chris D. Rucker and Donald Spencer, suspended for being present at Rather Hall but never charged, are back with the team for spring practice.

"We talked about the law, talked about our players' rights, talked about consequences," Dantonio said. "When you make a decision, it's not a quick fix judiciously. Our players need to understand that. It's not over and done with when you do make a mistake.

"We're just trying to educate and be proactive, and I think it draws our team together."

Adam Rittenberg covers Big Ten football for ESPN.com.

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