The Spartans released their preseason depth chart at the Big Ten Media Days on Wednesday and it came with a bit of a surprise.
The starting running back was converted redshirt freshman linebacker Riley Bullough, which head coach Mark Dantonio attributed to his work in the spring.
"I think it's a statement that he came in and made some plays," Dantonio said. "We need a guy that can get the tough yards. I don't think there is any question about that.
"We also with that being side, don't see him carrying the ball 390 times. That position is open. We have got some freshman in there and some returning guys in there.
"I think the nod goes to Riley right now when you talk to our coaches."
Bullough's older brother, Max, said it's a credit to his athleticism.
"It's great," Max Bullough said. "He's only played two weeks there, but aside from just his pure ability to play that position, I think he always has been a gamer on offense and defense.
"So, you can put him in a lot of position and he is going to make plays. That's why Coach D put him there."
Max Bullough also said that Riley adds a confidence to the offense, which was seen through the spring.
"When Riley's back there, this offense has an air of confidence about them that otherwise they didn't have," Max Bullough said. "You look back to the spring when Riley is back there, guys on the offensive line and the entire offense, there is more confidence about him and it gets us excited.
"This team is different when he is back there."
As for what differences Riley has implemented, it has been pretty basic for the redshirt freshman.
"(Riley) has been working out with the running backs all summer and running with the skill positions, which is a little bit faster group and he has been learning the offensive plays," Max Bullough said.