In the final installment off “All-Time 10 Best” for Michigan State University football we have the defensive lineman. Michigan State University has a history of producing some very good lineman, and this list will broadcast the best of the best. Not only does this list comprise of the best defensive player in school history, but quite possibly the best defensive player ever in college football history.
With that said, check out the list below and feel free to leave a comment/opinion…
10. Clifton Ryan (DT, 2002-2006)
The former Michigan State defensive tackle, and St.Louis Rams 5th round selection, was a big play guy for the Spartans. Ryan ranks 17th on the MSU all-time sacks list with 10.5 in his career. During his sophomore season he had 41 tackles, eight of which were recorded for a loss of yards. From 2007-2009, Ryan played in every game for the St.Louis Rams, and even recorded two sacks during his rookie season.
9. Mark Nichols (DT, 1983, 1985-1987)
Mark Nichols, No. 83 above, ranks 10th all-time in tackles for loss in MSU history with 29. Also, he ranks seventh on the MSU all-time sacks list with 15. Not many other Spartans have caused opponents to lose more yards off of sacks than Nichols, as he caused opponents to lose 90-yards combined during his time at MSU.
8. Jonal Saint-Dic (DE, 2005-2007)
The former Kansas City Chief was once a standout defensive end in East Lansing. Saint-Dic ranks first all-time (tied with Julian Peterson) in MSU history in forced fumbles with 10 in his career. Also, the defensive end ranks ninth all-time in sacks with 13. Those sacks led to 116 total yards lost for opponents which ranks Saint-Dic sixth all-time in that category.
7. Kelly Quinn (DE, 1981-1985)
Kelly Quinn ranks third all-time in sacks in MSU history with 24, and ranks third all-time in opponent yards lost due to sacks with 183. Quinn also ranks ninth all-time on the MSU tackle for loss list with 31 in his career. In relation to the the yards lost due to sacks, Quinn ranks fourth all-time in opponent yards loss due to tackles with 214 yards in his career.
6. Ervin Baldwin (DE, 2006-2007)
With only two years under his belt as a Spartan, Baldwin put up some very impressive numbers in a short period. Baldwin, who started every game during his time at MSU, ranks 19th on the all-time tackles for loss list with 25 in his career. Also, he ranks 11th in sacks all-time with 12.5. While the stats aren’t necessarily “eye-popping,” Baldwin showed that he was one of the best defensive lineman in the Big Ten during his time in East Lansing, and had a very good skill set that separated him from his counterparts in the division. During his senior season Baldwin captured 18.5 tackles for a loss which ranked him at 16th in the nation, and second all-time in an MSU season.
5. Jerel Worthy (DT, 2008-2011)
Jerel Worthy has been one of the more dominant defensive lineman that have come through East Lansing in a while. While there was an issue of playing intensity game-to-game, Worthy made a pretty good name for himself in three solid seasons. During his sophomore campaign in 2010, Worthy racked-up 40 tackles, 8 for loss, and 4 sacks. These statistics helped put Worthy on all of the top lists coming into the 2011 season. While his junior season was not quite as successful as his sophomore season, Worthy still put up pretty good numbers, as he got 30 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He earned earned first-team All-America honors from the likes of The Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Walter Camp Foundation, Sporting News, CBSSports.com, NBCSports.com and Yahoo! Sports. In the 2012 NFL Draft Worthy was selected in the second-round by the Green Bay Packers.
4. Travis Davis (DT, 1986-1989)
Davis left MSU as one of the premier lineman in school history. During his time at MSU, Davis was able to record 24 sacks, third all-time in school history, and 39 tackles for loss, which is fourth all-time. In 1989, Travis Davis was named first-team All-Big Ten after his senior season. Davis was selected in the fourth round of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals.
3. Robaire Smith (DE, 1997-1999)
Of course an MSU “All-Time” list wouldn’t be complete without a Flint, Mich. native, so here we go with one of the most dominant defensive lineman in the history of MSU football. Smith ranks fifth all-time in tackles for loss in school history with 38, and he ranks fifth all-time in sacks with 22. As a junior, Smith was voted to the Walter Camp All-America Team. He was drafted in the sixth-round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans, and has had a good NFL career with the Titans, Browns, and Texans.
2. Larry Bethea (DE, 1974-1977)
The former first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in the 1978 NFL Draft, Larry Bethea was one of the more successful defensive ends in Big Ten history. Bethea still ranks first all-time in sacks in school history with 33, and third all-time in tackles for loss with 43. In 1977 Bethea was named Big Ten Conference MVP and earned first-team Big Ten All-conference honors. He also holds the record for most sacks in a single season with 16.
1. Bubba Smith (DE, 1964-1966)
Charles “Bubba” Smith is one of the most dominant players in the history of college football, not just Big Ten history. While at MSU, Smith was a two-time All-American and national champion. As a senior, Smith was named to nine First-Team All-American teams. Also, during his senior season, Smith was named the UPI Lineman of the Year. Smith is one of only three players in Spartan football history to have his jersey number retired, and in 1988 Smith was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was the first overall selection in the 1967 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts. For those who have not see footage of the late Bubba Smith, check out a quick video clip here just to see a quick glimpse of how great this man was.