Michigan State: Players To Watch

SpartanDigest.com presents 10 players -- five on offense, five on defense -- that Buckeye fans should keep an eye on when the teams square off on Saturday afternoon in what should be an exciting Big Ten opener.

Note: SpartanDigest.com publisher Dave Berk offers five key Michigan State players to watch for Buckeye fans as Ohio State travels to East Lansing for a Saturday afternoon battle to open Big Ten play.


#1 – TB: Le'Veon Bell (6-2, 244 Jr.)
In the early going Bell has been the lifeblood of the Spartans offense with a league high 610 yards rushing on the season. The Ohio native is a true power back who can block and catch the ball out of the backfield. With one of the best stiff arms in college football and the knack of spinning out of a tackle, Bell has no problem carrying the ball 30 times if called upon by Mark Dantonio.

#2 – QB: Andrew Maxwell (6-3, 212 Jr.)
The first year starter has made continued progress since the season opener despite the fact outside of tight end Dion Sims he has no other receiver to throw to with confidence. The junior has a rocket for an arm and when the Spartans receivers come around, will have the controls of an offense capable of putting up big yardage and points.

#3 – TE: Dion Sims (6-5, 285 Jr.)
The junior is having the best year of his career having already posted 22 catches for 277 yards and two touchdowns. He is Maxwell's most trusted receiver and despite his physical size is capable of getting down field. Sims also does a great job blocking in the Spartans offense.

#4 - RT: Skyler Burkland (6-7, 315 Soph.)
The Ohio native got off to a fast start last season before a knee injury against Notre Dame ended his year. An infection during camp forced Burkland to have surgery and miss the season opener but he returned to action the following week and moved into the starting lineup at right tackle when Fou Fonoti went down two days before the Notre Dame game. Capable of also playing left tackle.

#5 - WR: Bennie Fowler (6-1, 218 Jr.)
The mess called the Michigan State receivers is led by Fowler who has shown in the past the ability to make big plays. Right now Spartan coaches would just like to see some stability with their receivers and will look to Fowler to provide the leadership to a very young group that will take the field against Ohio State.


#1 – MLB: Max Bullough (6-3, 252 Jr.)
Bullough is the heart and soul of the Spartans defense with his football IQ and physical skills. The leading tackler for the Spartans a year ago, Bullough looks to be headed in the same direction this season having already posted 26 total tackles on the season. The grandson of Hank Bullough (Michigan State) and Jim Morse (Notre Dame) and son of former Spartan linebacker Shane Bullough, Max brings toughness to the field on every play.

#2 – DE: William Gholston (6-7, 278 Jr.)
The cousin of former Buckeye Vernon Gholston is no slouch as he enters his second season as a starter at defensive end. With great physical size and athletic skills Gholston plays with a high motor and can bring pressure from the edge in the Spartans defense.

#3 – SAM: Denicos Allen (5-11, 225 Jr.)
If there will be one player on the Spartans playing with him energy it will be Allen who plays with a chip on his shoulder against every Big Ten team that passed on him. The Ohio native had a breakout year in his first season as a starter posting 11 sacks to go with his 83 tackles in 2011. His flying sack against the Buckeyes a year ago is well documented and now part of Michigan State lore.

#4 - BC: Johnny Adams (5-11, 177 Soph.)
Akron, Ohio native who plays with a chip on his shoulder is considered one of the best corners in college football with his ability to cover man-to-man and make the big play. Has great burst off the edge when asked to blitz and posted three sacks in 2011 and one this season to go with his four pass break-ups and one interception.

#5 - NT: James Kittredge (6-4, 272 Jr.)
Sitting out last season after his transfer from Vanderbilt may have slowed Kittredge at the begging. However, the New Jersey native is coming off his best game having posted five tackles (2.5 for loss) in his first career start. Plays with a high motor and is still a work in progress as he moved from playing center at Vanderbilt to nose tackle at Michigan State.

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