5 Spring Positions to Watch: Defensive Tackle

Spring football starts this week, so we take a look at the five positions to watch this spring as the Spartans look to return to the Rose Bowl.

Michigan State's defense was top notch the past few years, but the interior defensive line went mostly unnoticed.

The pair of Tyler Hoover and Micajah Reynolds have graduated and are looking to make their NFL dreams a reality. In addition, the Spartans also will not have would-be junior Mark Scarpinato, who has elected to move on to medical school.

The top returner will be junior Damon Knox, who had 22 tackles and one sack in 2013. He was a solid player as the third defensive end in rotation with Scarpinato last season and should make a strong impact as a starter.

Behind him, the Spartans are in large part a question mark. Junior Lawrence Thomas, who was hurt in fall camp last season and played sparingly in seven games, could factor in. He also could be in the mix as a backup defensive end.

A likely player that will step in and contribute is James Kittredge, who started some of his sophomore year in 2012. He had 14 tackles with 4.5 tackles for loss that season.

Junior Brandon Clemons will be in the mix, assuming he can stay healthy and find a way to contribute.

Like Thomas, defensive end Joel Heath also could factor into the middle. He will be very necessary on the edge, though, as the depth is a bit of an issue behind Marcus Rush and Shilique Calhoun.

He won't be in the picture in the spring, but incoming freshman Craig Evans likely will make his presence felt come the fall as a part of the defensive tackle rotation. The Spartans also brought in Enoch Smith and David Beedle in the 2014 class.

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