5 Spring Positions to Watch: SAM Linebacker

Three-year starter Denicos Allen has graduated, so who is next for the Spartans at the SAM linebacker spot? One player likely has the spot cemented, but others are in the wings.

A staple of Michigan State teams the past three years has been Denicos Allen flying off the edge from his SAM linebacker spot.

The speedy linebacker racked up tackles – especially tackles for loss – throughout the three years on his way to being honored as an All-Big Ten selection twice. He also was an All-American as a senior by some organizations.

Fortunately for the Spartans, of all the positions they have to replace, the SAM linebacker might be the best equipped to not suffer a big drop off.

Junior Ed Davis is the likely player to step right in and start and has 27 games under his belt.

He had a coming out party against Michigan last season, with four tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss – both sacks. Davis has been much ballyhooed during his time in East Lansing, but last year was his time to shine in a backup role. The Spartans placed a bigger emphasis on getting backups more experience, which they also were able to do with such a successful season. The 2012 campaign did not allow such opportunities with so many close games and needing to have the starters in as much as possible.

Riley Bullough was listed as the No. 2 on the spring depth chart released Monday and will get the majority of time at the position with Davis expected to be out for much of spring ball with an injury.

Now, Davis will be the focus at the SAM spot. Behind him, will-be redshirt freshman Shane Jones could be in the mix. He was working at the SAM position last fall camp and he could factor in at multiple linebacker spots in his career.

Behind him, the Spartans have a group of incoming freshmen that should be solid players down the road.

But replacing the three-year starter in Allen, who started the final 40 games of his career, will not be easy. It is comforting for the Michigan State coaches to have experience and skill with Davis to step in, though.


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