5 Spring Positions to Watch: MIKE linebacker

Max Bullough is gone and the Spartans are looking for the next commanding linebacker to take control and run Pat Narduzzi's defense. The depth chart makes it clear Taiwan Jones will get the first look, but who else is in the mix?

As much as Denicos Allen was a staple of the past few years on the Michigan State defense, Max Bullough was an even greater presence.

The face of the program for the past few years, the third-generation middle linebacker will be tough to replace in his skills, but more so in his ability to control the defense and read opposing offenses.

To make matters a little bit more challenging as the Spartans look to replace Bullough, his backup Kyler Elsworth also graduated. Elsworth, who was instrumental in the Spartans' Rose Bowl victory after Bullough's suspension, would have ben an obvious replacement heading into 2014.

Instead, the Spartans are left shuffling around. It makes sense that junior Darien Harris will be in the mix as he was splitting time with Elsworth, worked at the MIKE spot in fall camp last season and spent time there during the 2013 season.

But the player topping the depth chart is the only starting linebacker returning to MSU this year: Taiwan Jones. It will be interesting to see how he handles the adjustment to captaining the defense in his senior year, if he sticks at MIKE. He will have the first crack at it, though.

Behind him, redshirt freshman Jon Reschke has long been thought of as the heir apparent to Bullough, but he did not play last season and needs that game experience.

Others that could be in the mix include Riley Bullough, who is on the depth chart as the backup at SAM behind Ed Davis – another position that could see some battle this spring, especially with Davis out for the spring with injury.

The Spartans brought in a solid haul of linebackers in the 2014 recruiting class, but none likely would factor in this early and most project to the outside not the inside.

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