The strength of the Michigan State defense the past few years has been at linebacker. With All-American Greg Jones, and Eric Gordon finishing their careers on Saturday, the program will look to younger players to fill the rolls filled by these two players the past four seasons. Who is in the mix to replace these two senior stars, and how will Michigan State look at the linebacker position in 2011?
Must replace two super star players and one of the top back-up players of the past couple of years. As Jones, Gordon and Jon Misch leave the program.
The Known Factor
Chris Norman: The Detroit native will be in his junior season and it will be his time to shine, as he will look to come out of the shadows of Gordon and Jones. Norman started nine games in 2010 and posted 59 total tackles but posted no sacks from the STAR backer spot. Could be moved to SAM backer to make room for the right player.
Denicos Allen: The Ohio native will be listed as the top back-up at the STAR position or push the staff to move Norman around to make room for him on the field.
Max Bullough: The next great Spartan linebacker looks to be Bullough. Played in all twelve games as a true-freshman posting 21 total tackles and half a sack. Must continue to show the growth he showed last spring as a lot will be expected of him.
Steve Gardiner: Should get first look at the SAM backer position with the graduation of Gordon. Did not start a game in 2010, but posted 20 total tackles on the year.
The Future Star
Lawrence Thomas: Scout.com 5-star linebacker opened eyes with his Spartan camp performance at 6-foot-4, 255-pounds and a 4.63 forty time. Some have him penciled in as an edge rusher, however, with his overall skill level he could become a super-sized MIKE backer.
Taiwan Jones: Long and lean, Jones is an athletic looking prospect who could get his first look at the STAR backer spot.
Ed Davis: Another prospect with a lean build who will be looked to fill one of the outside spots when he arrives on campus. Should have time to grow into a solid college player.
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