Both are expected to be key contributors for a depth-laden playing group and Denson appears to be ahead of Decker for the starting job, but with about four weeks to go before the season opener against Montana State, bumps, bruises and mental lapses could all play a part in who actually lines up with the first unit.
The middle linebacker position is firmly in the hands of preseason Big Ten player of the year Greg Jones and the SAM position belongs to Eric Gordon, but the WILL position figures to see both players get some action.
"Well, you have Greg Jones back; you have Eric Gordon; you have Brandon Denson who had a great spring, 230 pounds, can run very well; Adam Decker has played significantly; Jon Misch has played significantly; and then you start seeing some of the younger players after that," said Dantonio.
For Michigan State, its an embarassment of riches at the linebacker position thanks to some outstanding recruiting and some character players who don't want to be left out of the action.
For instance, early last week, three freshman linebackers approached coach Mike Tressel and asked him to stay up late with them to teach them certain nuances of the scheme MSU was running.
Tressel sent them to bed and told them to get ready for the next day's activity. Head coach Mark Dantonio was happy to hear about his players desire to get better.
"Chris Norman, Jeremy Gainer, TyQuan Hammock, those are our three freshmen and I think they're very talented, but we're going to see what we have when they put the pads on. There's still a learning curve there."
"Steve Gardiner is a young man who was sidelined with a toe injury before that's been sort of keeping him out pretty much the whole year, so he's going to have an opportunity to show what he's got."
"Then you've got some other guys like Drew Stevens. We've got some young guys back there. But it's tough to say in shorts. But I do think that if you look at them and watch them in terms of the physical ability, how they move and how they run, they'll have opportunities. They'll have a chance."
And while Jones is so good, he could be an early entry into the NFL draft, if he returns for his senior season, MSU will only get deeper as Traverse City St. Francis linebacker Max Bullough and the top player in the state of Michigan, William Gholston are both expected to join the fray at the position in 2010.
For MSU, it's all good at the linebacking position.