Quarterback Rocky Lombardi will take snaps on fourth downs going forward for the Spartans.

By Khadrice Rollins
September 12, 2018

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio just gave himself a reason to get real creative with fourth-down play calls going forward.

With starting punter Jake Hartbarger on the shelf for at least six weeks after suffering a leg injury in the Week 2 loss at Arizona State, Dantonio has turned to redshirt-freshman quarterback Rocky Lombardi as his new punter.

Lombardi has previously only been listed on the depth chart as a backup for starting quarterback Brian Lewerke.

The No. 25 Spartans have one other punter on their roster in freshman William Przystup. They also have three kickers they could pick from with starter Matt Coghlin, backup Tyler Hunt and redshirt Cole Hahn. Dantonio mentioned Przystup and Hunt as potential options to take over the punting duties. He added that Lombardi was the backup punter prior to Hartbarger's injury and he's a "great athlete" who will understand pressure because of his time as a quarterback.

Pryzstup was listed as the backup punter on the depth chart going into the Arizona State game, but it was Lombardi who got the chance to show his skills in that contest after Hartbarger went down. Lombardi's one punt in that game went 32 yards and was taken back to the Sun Devils' 21-yard line after the returner lost two yards.

Michigan State is 1-1 and has a bye this upcoming week, but will be back in action on Sept. 22 for a road game against Big Ten rival Indiana. After that, the Spartans will host Central Michigan on Sept. 29 and Northwestern on Oct. 6.

If Lombardi is dropped lower on the quarterback depth chart because of the move to starting punter, freshman Theo Day or senior Mickey Macius will likely slide into the backup role behind Lewerke.

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