The 2012 season looks to be the coming out party for William Gholston and company as MSU looks to make a return trip to the Big Ten Championship game.
DEFENSIVE END Marcus Rush, William Gholston, Shilique Calhoun, Joel Heath, Jeremy Gainer, Lawrence Thomas, Corey Freeman
All eyes will be on junior Gholston as he is coming off a solid season in 2011 with much more expected in 2012. Gholston may find himself in the same position as Jerel Worthy did a year ago after this season and will have to make a hard decision about returning for his final year at MSU.
He is joined by Rush who was one of the top players in the conference in 2011 despite being in his first year on the field. While Rush and Gholston make for one of the best tandems in all of college football, there is no time to rest on past success as the Spartans have depth pushing both players to stay on top of their game.
Coaches raved about Calhoun during last season and Heath showed during the spring why many feel the Spartans got a steal in signing the Cincinnati, Ohio native. Both players will get their reps this fall making the Spartans one of the most feared squads on the edge.
While most programs would be extremely happy with four defensive ends capable of making an impact, the Spartans don't stop as Thomas moves from linebacker to the edge. After fighting injuries since arriving on campus, Thomas is still a force to be reckoned with 6-foot-3, 295-pounds. If healthy opponents better be ready to see #8 on the field looking to make up for wasted time.
Freeman and Gainer provide even more depth as both players have earned letters during their Spartan careers.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE Anthony Rashad White, Damon Knox, Micajah Reynolds, Jordan Sanders
The loss of Worthy is huge for the Spartans but hopes are high that Rashad White can carry over the momentum from his last game against Georgia in the Outback Bowl where he posted seven tackles (3 for loss) and finished the game by blocking the Bulldogs game-tying field goal attempt in the third overtime.
Spelling Rashad White will be Knox and Reynolds and surprised performer Sanders who continues putting in the work to get reps on the field.
If Rashad White would go down for any length of time, there will be questions at the position as Knox is only a redshirt freshman and Reynolds is back on the defensive line after flipping back and forth over the past two years.
NOSE TACKLE Tyler Hoover, James Kittredge, Brandon Clemons, Mark Scarpinato, Doug Curtis
Because of the depth at defensive end, Michigan State can move Hoover inside to help make up for the lack of numbers at the position. Hoover has great size and now has transition from around the 270-pound mark to over 300-pounds. The Spartans need Hoover to come up big to make nose tackle a strength on the defense.
After transferring from Vanderbilt, Kittredge showed well during spring practice and the spring game. He will be joined by Clemons and Scarpinato, two players the coaching staff are high on being solid players during their careers.
Curtis is there for depth and will see some reps when the Spartans have a game put away.
INCOMING FRESHMEN David Fennell,
Don't look for the Portland, Oregon native to take any on-field reps this fall as the Spartans look to bring him along on the scout team and in the weight room. Fennell came out of nowhere late in the recruiting process but the coaching staff is extremely high on his future with the Green & White.