Defensive Outlook

Goodbye Jonal Saint-Dic and Ervin Baldwin; Kaleb Thornhill and SirDarean Adams; Travis Key and Nehemiah Warrick. All three major positional units on the Michigan State defense—the line, linebackers and secondary—take hits next year losing at least two steady performers each. But much experience returns, and with a coaching staff unafraid to utilize freshman, more are certainly on the way.

EAST LANSING - Goodbye Jonal Sain-Dic and Ervin Baldwin. Goodbye Kaleb Thornhill and SirDarean Adams. Goodbye Travis Key and Nehemiah Warrick. All three major positional units on the Michigan State defense—the line, linebackers and secondary—take hits next year losing at least two steady performers each. But much experience returns and with a coaching staff unafraid to utilize freshman, more are certainly on the way.

The line will be hit the hardest with Ogemdi Nwagbuo also graduating. But the good news is that the other units return plenty of talent.

The linebackers return the most promise, with Scout.com Freshman All-American Greg Jones returning at the SAM. He led the team with 73 tackles, 7.5 of which were for a loss. Eric Gordon (R-Fr.), who started most of the season on the weak side, returns, as will MIKE Josh Rouse (So.) and reserve Jon Misch (R-Fr.)

Add into the mix Dion Guy (Woodson HS) who has given MSU a soft verbal, as well as commit Jhamiihr Williams (Trotwood-Madison HS), and the Spartans have as deep, young and talented a linebacking corps as anyone in the Big Ten.

The defensive line loses a lot, but with the addition of Trevor Anderson, a standout Cincinnati transfer at defensive end, the negative impact should be lessened. Justin Kershaw (Sr.) also returns as do a number of younger players.

Oren Wilson (Fr.) and Antonio Jeremiah (Fr.) both found the field often this season and should give the defense a foundation to build on. In addition, junior college transfer Michael Jordan, who will have two more years of eligibility, returns. John Stipek (So.) at tackle and Brandon Long (Jr.) at end will add depth.

Tyler Hoover, a commit from Novi, has been recruited to play defensive end as well as tight end. With the graduation of Baldwin and Saint-Dic, Hoover could be relied on immediately to add depth. Commits Jerel Worthy (Wayne HS) and Anthony Woods (Melvindale HS) will also be in the mix with a coaching staff unafraid to expose young players to action.

The unit with the most talent returning is surely the secondary. Otis Wiley (Jr.) and Roderick Jenrette (So.) return at safety as do experienced cornerbacks Ross Weaver (So.), Kendell Davis-Clark (Jr.), Chris L. Rucker (Fr.), Ashton Henderson (So.) and converted wide receiver T.J. Williams (So.)

A few wide receiver recruits appear to be candidates to add depth to the secondary at the college level. Charles Burrell (Southeastern HS) and Keshawn Martin (John Glen HS) could convert to the defense, and Martin will have an opportunity to contribute as a returner on special teams as well.

On the horizon, Michigan State is also shooting for Brynden Trawick (Sprayberry HS), a safety from Marietta, Ga. who intends to commit to a school by the end of the month. The Spartans are in his top six.

And the son of former Spartan superstar Lorenzo White, Lorenzo White, Jr. (Dillard HS), is a rising DB prospect from southern Florida. Michigan State is a favorite and with him and possibly Trawick in tow, the woes of the defense from years past appear to be distant memories.


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