In addition, there are one or two players who could make an immediate impact as freshman and help the Spartans make a slight upward move in the conference.
OFFENSIVE LINE: MSU loses three seniors, left tackle Rocco Cironi, guard Brendan Moss and center Joel Nitchman. Redshirt freshman Henry Conway has been so impressive in practices that many feel he could press for the starting position vacated by Cironia. He could enter at right tackle and allow senior D.J. Young to move to the left side.
Nate Klatt will likely enter the playing group with senior John Stipek at center. Sophomore Jared McGaha and redshirt freshman Ethan Ruhland will get a challenge from freshman David Barrent who has tremendous upside. D.J. Young and Joel Foreman return as solid veterans. Freshmen Dan France and Micajah Reynolds will provide even more depth. Skyler Schofner is probably a year away from seeing the field.
QUARTERBACK: One of the huge story lines is whether Keith Nichol will make a permanent switch to wide receiver. The coaching staff called him a stronger, more physical Blair White during Alamo Bowl practices. That would open the door for Andrew Maxwell to be the backup to sophomore starter Kirk Cousins while incoming freshman Joe Boisture gets redshirted.
TIGHT END: Dion Sims is the "X" factor. Will Dantonio continue to keep him at tight end or will he move to defensive line where Coach Ted Gill relishes the opportunity to work with him. Charlie Gantt, Brian LInthicum and Garrett Celek all return.
WIDE RECEIVER: Keshawn Martin will be the featured guy as suspended juniors Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham try to work their way back out of the doghouse. Look for raw Bennie Fowler and Patrick White to get a shot at getting on the field. Fowler, like Martin, is a speed burner but also very raw. He began his high school career in his senior season.
RUNNING BACK: With Edwin Baker asserting himself at the end of the season, it'll be game on for the starting position with fellow freshman Larry Caper. While he's likely to redshirt, don't sleep on Chelsea's Nick Hill. He isn't anybody's throw-in. He's a tough, hard, speedy runner who will make an impact, but he might be a year away. LeVeon Bell could be moved to safety or linebacker.
NEXT: A look at the defense