Competition between the Joneses

Returning starter Taiwan Jones faces stiff competition from former safety Jairus Jones, who moved to linebacker in the spring.

Michigan State linebacker Taiwan Jones was a guy who burst into the starting lineup last year, starting over then-senior Chris Norman, at times.

This year, he enters the season as a co-starter with former safety Jairus Jones at the STAR linebacker position.

"Jarius is a guy that can play outside backer for us," head coach Mark Dantonio said. "He had a great spring. If you look and you always point, I think, to your football team you ask yourself who is the guy that's really popped out and really had an impressive spring, I think Jarius Jones is one of those guys, especially on defense, weighing 216, 220 pounds or so.

"He's got the ability to go back and play safety. He's got a lot of experience back there, both safety positions."

Senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard spent time in the secondary with Jairus Jones, and said between him and Taiwan Jones, the Spartans have two good options.

"Those guys, seeing them in spring ball, when we moved (Jairus Jones) to the STAR spot, he added another dimension because he plays safety so he has ball skills and he has speed," Dennard said. "Taiwan brings intensity with his power and strength. We will need both those guys. Added competition will just make the team better."

Competition is a sentiment echoed by Dantonio when it comes to Jairus Jones.

"You can't assume, you can't relax and assume you are going to be the guy," Dantonio said. "Just like last year, Chris Norman couldn't assume that he was going to be the guy. We've got good players and guys that have played football. I thought Taiwan had a great season last year. This is 2013, Jairus did a great job in the spring. Taiwan is bigger and fast. … I don't care who starts."

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