Defensive line shows well in first scrimmage

One player is making a move at defensive tackle, while others are cementing their roles for the season.

Michigan State has had a defensive lineman leave for the NFL early in two consecutive years, but the Spartans still have a solid group up front.

Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi was particularly pleased with a select few after the Spartans held their first scrimmage Saturday.

"Up front, Shilique Canhoun, Marcus Rush, Joel Heath had a very good scrimmage and, of course, Denzel Drone," Narduzzi said. "All four of those guys played well."

Rush had six tackles and two sacks, while Calhoun tallied three tackles and a sack for a loss of nine.

Narduzzi said the defensive tackles had a good day, with sophomore Mark Scarpinato pressuring for playing time over senior Micajah Reynolds.

"When you look inside, we've got a battle going on," Narduzzi said of the defensive tackle competition. "Inside, Tyler Hoover looked good, Scarpinato, and Micajah Reynolds are in a battle for that nose spot.

"Scarpinato is pushing them hard right now. So, those three are the top three tackles right now."

The race for the starting defensive tackle spot — between Reynolds and Scarpinato — has heated up to the point where the coaches have listed them as equals on the depth chart.

"Micajah's had a good camp," Narduzzi said. "Scarpinato's got a motor and he's really getting after it.

"I think Micajah's had a good camp and it's good to see Scarpinato pushing him. We've kind of moved them up next to each other in the depth chart and let them battle it out." Narduzzi was pleased with all the defensive tackles, but said sophomore Damon Knox showed him something extra over the weekend.

"Inside, Knox also emerged," Narduzzi said. "He had a good scrimmage and he had even a better practice yesterday. Knox had a good scrimmage and a great day yesterday, showing some explosion.

"I just hadn't seen that quick twitch like I saw (Sunday), maybe it was the Big Ten Network cameras. I just saw some explosion off the ball yesterday that I just didn't see in the past so it's good to see and we're trying to keep him healthy too."

Another guy that has impressed Narduzzi with his performance during camp is the senior defensive end Drone.

"Right now, Drone has had a great camp and I consider him a starter, Narduzzi said. "He looks good.

"He's slimmed down; I don't know what he's weighing right now. I really don't care; it's just the way he's moving. He's locked in and focused."

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