Depth Chart Set for UAB

A relatively healthy Michigan State squad will provide the UAB Blazers with all they can handle in the first game of the Mark Dantonio era. Freshman WR Mark Dell has stepped into a starting slot on offense and the defense is completely healthy with young players like LB Greg Jones and DT Oren Wilson in the mix for playing time.

EAST LANSING – Although the backup quarterback position is still being shared between Nick Foles and Connor Dixon, the rest of the depth chart remains relatively unchanged for the game against UAB.

One absence will be left tackle Mike Gyetvai, who would normally anchor the offensive line. "He continues to rehab and is practicing," head coach Mark Dantonio says, though it may be 3-4 weeks before he sees game action. But with senior captain Peter Clifford taking his place protecting Brian Hoyer's blind side, the team should feel secure.

"(Pete Clifford) is one of the hardest working players on our football team," says Dantonio.

One surprise, however, is freshman Mark Dell, who has impressed coaches and will take one of the starting wide receiver spots next to Devin Thomas.

"He's a playmaker. He's going to be a great player at Michigan State for years to come," Dantonio says.

As for the rest of the offense, upperclassmen abound and most of the depth chart has been unchanged since spring, from TE Kellen Davis and QB Hoyer to center John Masters and guard Roland Martin. However, when it comes to the defense, a youth movement cannot be contained.

Nowhere is this more apparent than at the linebacker position, save for senior captain Kaleb Thornhill, who is the heart and soul of the unit and defense.

"He was the top vote-getter of all the captains, almost a unanimous pick in all respects. A great leader for us on the field and off the field," Dantonio says.

But Eric Gordon (R-Fr.) at the WILL and Jonathan Mish (R-Fr.) at the SAM bring youth to the position as they have held onto their starting assignments. SirDarean Adams is still in the mix as a more versatile second-teamer behind Misch, but he is receiving plenty of competition at that level as well.

True freshman Greg Jones has impressed the coaching staff and should find the field as a backup to Gordon on the weak side.

Also in the mix to give starters a breather on the D-line will be true freshmen Oren Wilson and Antonio Jeremiah.

In the secondary, no changes have been made, although CB Chris L. Rucker (Fr.) will push sophomore Ross Weaver.

Todd Boleski (Jr.) will handle kickoff duties, pushed back to the 30-yard line this season, while Brett Swenson (So.) will continue his work hitting big field goals.

And although Dantonio says the return games will be by committee, WR Thomas and CB Kendell Davis-Clark are listed as kick returners, while the surprising Dell will get a shot to return punts as well.

Finally, Aaron Bates out-booted Ed Wagner for primary punting duties.

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