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CHICAGO — Jon Reschke is back on Michigan State's football roster, 17 months after the linebacker issued an apology for using the N-word in a racially charged text message that led to his departure.
Spartans coach Mark Dantonio confirmed the decision Tuesday during the final day of Big Ten football media days.
"Honestly don't know who for sure but probably (teammate's name redacted) or another s----- f------ (N-word) with no morals," Reschke wrote in an undated text message obtained via screenshot by the Free Press.
The text listed Reschke's phone number as the sender and had the responses scribbled out. A former Michigan State teammate, who requested anonymity and did not provide the text, confirmed its contents and said the conversation involved a female acquaintance of Reschke's.
Michigan State did not make Reschke available for an interview after a Free Press request.
"I talked to our football team and our players and said, 'Hey, if you guys want him back, then you have to bring him back,'" Dantonio said. "It has to be a decision made by our African-American players, led by them, and they have to support that."
Reschke left the Michigan State program in February 2017 after reaching a mutual decision with Dantonio and other members of the coaching staff. His intention was to transfer to another school for his final year of eligibility after completing his undergraduate degree in the spring of 2017, but he did not land on another roster last fall.
The decision to leave was reached based on reaction of his teammates to the text message Reschke sent.
Dantonio said Reschke suffered a non-football knee injury after leaving the team and did not transfer. The coach said the players on his team made the decision to bring back Reschke, who will not be on scholarship for his final year.
"He paid the ultimate price by being out of football for a year," Dantonio said Tuesday.
Reschke sent an apology letter in a news release in February and said he "lost control of my emotions and made an insensitive and totally regrettable comment involving a former teammate."
"In so doing, I have hurt and offended countless number of people, and for that, I am deeply sorry," Reschke wrote. "If I could take my comment back, I would do so in a second. I have addressed my teammates and coaches and while many understand my actions were totally uncharacteristic of who I am, the hurt still lingers."
Dantonio told reporters in late April that he had talked with his players about possibly reinstating Reschke and would leave the decision up to them.
"The one thing I want our football players to understand and to learn from is that -- and to grow as people from is that they're going to have to handle big, big issues at times, such as standing for the flag or not, things we've endured at Michigan State in this past year, they're going to be a part of that, and they're going to have to weigh in on things. And I'm going to have to listen to them and listen to them weigh in on it and make decisions, ultimately. I'll ultimately have to make decisions," Dantonio said Tuesday. "But I have individuals that I'm concerned about. I'm concerned about people's families. I'm concerned about how they live their life. Jon Reschke makes the decision he wants to come back, he's trying to look things in the eye and ask for forgiveness.
"Our football team has forgiven him, I think. If they haven't, that's something we'll deal with on an ongoing basis."
Reschke received NCAA approval for a medical waiver and sixth year of eligibility in May, according to a school spokesman. He battled an ankle injury and played in just two games in 2016 as a junior, finishing with 13 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception. Reschke took a redshirt as a freshman during the 2013 season because of injuries, though he was the scout team's special teams player of the week leading up to Michigan State's win over Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game that year.
The 6-3, 235-pounder has played in 24 games, including 14 during the Spartans' Big Ten championship and playoff season in 2015. Reschke had 101 tackles, 61/2 for loss and two sacks from 2014 to 2016.
Dantonio said he does not know where Reschke is physically after his knee injury or what position he might play this fall.
"We're just trying to see if he can get on the field as a football player, and then we'll make decisions," Dantonio said. "Again, it's a step-by-step process in every respect, not just the things we talked about but physically as well I think."
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