D-tackle Battle Ongoing

One is 280 pounds, the other 320. Oren Wilson and Antonio Jeremiah bring different physiques to the gridiron, but both are showing defensive line coach Ted Gill they deserve to play.

EAST LANSING -- On the defensive line, there is one starters spot that is not absolutely certain for Michigan State.

Oren Wilson, who logged significant playing time last season as a true freshman, is the favorite to start alongside Justin Kershaw at the tackle spot.

But with the emergence, and size, of Antonio Jeremiah, things might not be set in stone. What helps Jeremiah, though, is also what might hurt him: his weight. Coming into camp, Jeremiah was the last player to pass the conditioning test and head coach Mark Dantonio noted troubling fluctuations in Jeremiah's weight, from the 330 pound range to near his playing weight at around 320, which is where he's at currently.

"When you're 320 pounds one day, but you're 330 the next day, that's a big meal," Dantonio said. "But he's a good football player, he's a great person."

For his part, Wilson, whose weight hovers in the 280's, says working for the starters spot is important and he wants to keep possession of the number one position. He embraces the competition and knows it will be an ongoing battle.

"I would say it's close. We are going to flip flop. He makes plays, I make plays," Wilson said yesterday between practices.

But that won't be the only competition Wilson sees at tackle.

"We have at least somewhere in the area of five tackles that could see time," D-line coach Ted Gill said. "Some guys see more (practice time) than others, so if you can get it down to a certain number, having that many in the mix will be pretty nice."

Gill said Ryan Wheat and Kevin Pickelman bring important depth to the interior and will likely see live action this year as well.

"Right now, Ryan is right there in the mix," Gill said. "He's doing the necessary things to stay up in there."

Of Pickelman, Gill says the red-shirt freshman is "tough as nails" and someone he points to as one of the toughest players on the team.

"He gets dinged up in practice and you never know it," Gill said.

The competition to keep an eye on throughout the rest of camp, though, is surely Wilson vs. Jeremiah.

"Those two are battling it out a little bit," Gill said.


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