Even though Michigan State lost their final game to finish their season 9-4, they appear poised to make a run for the conference championship next season.
MSU returns eight of 11 starters on offense and nine of 11 on defense. They appear to have capable replacements for those who are departing and bring in a talented freshman class that could add several contributors.
MSU loses starting quarterback Brian Hoyer, but redshirt freshman Kirk Cousins could actually be an upgrade. In addition, MSU brings in talent Andrew Maxwel of Midland, MI who competed in the Elite 11 quarterback camps.
Senior Javon Ringer will be hard to replace, the first team AP All-American rushed for 23 touchdowns. Still freshman Glenn Winston showed that he could be a contributor and incoming freshmen Edwin Baker and Larry Caper are two of the most talented backs in the nation.
MSU loses longtime veteran starters Jesse Miller and Roland Martin, but juniors Mike Schmeding and Brendan Moss will get first crack at the left tackle position, while redshirt freshman Jared McGaha will likely get the nod at the right guard position.
While all the starters at the wideout positions return, Detroit Southeastern's Fred Smith figures to give MSU a boost at the position with his size, speed and athleticism.
On defense while Brandon Long vacates the defensive end position, sophomore Colin Neely will get first shot by freshman Tyler Hoover looks as if he could make an impact at the position. MSU will be hurt by the graduation of likely NFL player Justin Kershaw, sophomore Antonio Jeremiah needs to step up for MSU, if not, incoming Blake Treadwell was a man against boys at the high school level and looks like he could really be something special.
While only starter Otis Wiley departs in the secondary, depth players Kendell Davis-Clark and Mike Bell will be missed. The progress of true freshman Johnny Adams could lead to Ross Weaver moving to safety opposite heady Danny Fortener. Don't count out Marietta, Ga freshman Brendan Trawick who flashed in practices this season.
At the linebacker position, MSU returns two-time All American Greg Jones in the middle and both Eric Gordon and Adam Decker, but its hard to imagine that super freshman Chris Norman of Detroit Renaissance won't be in that playing group. Norman, a true middle linebacker upgrades MSU's speed and athleticism.