Hicks, Harris working at STAR linebacker

With Jairus Jones' injury, MSU has made some shifts in positions to compensate for the loss, including shifting Mylan Hicks to linebacker. Plus, what it the status of Lawrence Thomas and who is working at kick and punt returner this week?

With Michigan State losing senior linebacker Jairus Jones to an MCL injury, junior safety Mylan Hicks has moved to the backup STAR spot.

"We've moved Mylan Hicks there but also Darien Harris can move out there, he's played out there before," coach Mark Dantonio said. "He's a 4.4 guy, 215-pound linebacker that can really run, strong, he's got to gain experience."

Jones was moved to linebacker in the spring and has been a staple of third-down packages early this season. He started against Notre Dame in place of injured Taiwan Jones.

Dantonio said Hicks can "go out there and play," but the coaches will have to see how he handles playing in the box.

"He's a tough guy," Dantonio said. "He weighs about 200 pounds but he's active. And he can do some of the things Jairus was able to do. They can sort of play off of, complement Taiwan as he plays."

Hicks has five tackles in his career.

As for Harris, Dantonio said his future could lie at any of the linebacker positions.

"He's just looking for an opportunity to get involved," Dantonio said. "I mean, he's a good football player and he's shown that the one summer camp scrimmage he had, he had 10, 11 tackles. He played with the ones the whole day and was very, very good at the Mike. He's played at the STAR before and he has the athletic ability to do that. So that should be a place for him to go to."

Thomas beginning to work back

Sophomore defensive tackle Lawrence Thomas has been out all season with an undisclosed injury, but he will begin to work back this week, Dantonio said.

"He will begin to, he's not been able to do too much," Dantonio said. "He'll begin to move back into the conditioning phase of it and we'll see how far he can come."

"Can he be ready for Iowa? We'll see. But we have to sort of see how he's coming, we have to watch him. But he's gonna start to progress this week."

While Thomas and James Kittredge have been out, Dantonio said defensive tackles Damon Knox and Mark Scarpinato have been solid.

"They're solid number twos right now, so those other two guys are gonna have to work themselves back in," Dantonio said. "But they're good players as well. Gives us added depth."

Kings working in the return game

MacGarrett Kings has been the Spartans' most consistent wide receiver this season, but also was back returning punts and kickoffs against Notre Dame.

Dantonio said Kings is getting work at both spots.

"Macgarrett's back there returning kicks and punts right now," he said. "We'll see on kickoffs but punts for sure right now."

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