MIKE LINEBACKER Max Bullough, Steve Gardiner, TyQuan Hammock, Ty Hamilton
Bullough continues to take his game up a level each season and much will be expected out of him in year two as a starter. With great physical size and the ability to keep the Spartans in the right defense, Bullough will look to follow up last season's 89 tackle year with an even bigger season. If teams continue to focus on the second-team All-Big Ten linebacker, those at the SAM and STAR spots will continue to have giant seasons.
Gardiner enters his final year in the program as a solid back-up and Hammock looks to have found a solid home after going back and forth from the offensive and defensive sides of the ball the past couple of seasons.
SAM LINEBACKER (Strong Side) Denicos Allen, Kyler Elsworth, Ed Davis
Allen won't be able to surprise teams this fall and could see his numbers suffer as teams focus on stopping the Hamilton, Ohio native after he recorded 11 sacks last season as a first year starter. However, if the Spartans get solid play from their defensive front, Allen will have another big year as he is able to use his athletic ability to keep linemen off him to make plays.
Elsworth is a solid back-up but the future is Davis who will get his first chance to take some reps this fall.
STAR LINEBACKER (Weak Side) Chris Norman, Darien Harris, Taiwan Jones, Danny Folino
Norman cannot rest of his past success as he's got Harris and Jones pushing for time. Harris has really impressed the coaches and only needs more experience. Jones, who played as a true freshman, has some seasoning behind him and showed why many feel he could push for time as a starter if there is an injury in the Star or Sam linebacker spots.
Folino is there for depth as a walk-on and understands his role within the program.
INCOMING FRESHMEN Riley Bullough, Jamal Lyles,
The goal will be for these two freshmen to stay on the sidelines this fall and learn from watching and taking reps with the scout team. But anytime there is a Bullough on a roster, you just never know if they'll push for early reps and time on special teams.
OTHERS – Pat Rhomberg