The 2013 Spartan Dawgs defense that led Michigan State to a Rose Bowl victory was special. It had playmakers at almost every position. In 2014 the Spartan’s will need to replace many of those playmakers, but there are talented players waiting to step in.
Despite losing defensive standouts like Darqueze Dennard and Max Bullough, the Spartan’s still have plenty of talent on that side of the ball. Here is a look at some of the candidates to be the Spartan’s defensive MVP next season, as well as my prediction.
Through Michigan State’s first two games of 2013 Shilique Calhoun had more touchdowns (3) than the Spartan offense (2). That just doesn’t happen. Calhoun also proved that those scores weren’t flukes by continuing to make plays all season long.
Calhoun finished the year with 7.5 sacks, an interception and three touchdowns. Calhoun quickly became one of the most feared defensive players in the B1G in 2013 because of his size and athleticism. He excelled at rushing the passer, especially against rival Michigan when he tallied 2.5 sacks.
Calhoun was merely a piece of the Spartan Dawgs puzzle in 2013 (albeit a big one), but next season he will be relied upon to be the premier playmaker on the defense. If 2013 is any indication, Calhoun should have no trouble adjusting to his new role and will be a star on the Spartan’s defense next year.
With the departures of Darqueze Dennard and Isaiah Lewis, Drummond is next in line to be the leader of the “No Fly Zone” in 2014.
Over the past few seasons Drummond has established himself as one of the top safeties in the B1G by displaying the ability to defend the run in addition to his coverage skills. Drummond tied for the team lead in interceptions in 2013 with four, including a spectacular one-handed pick against Western Michigan in the season opener.
Drummond will be the leader of the Spartan secondary next season, and he is a prime candidate to become the defensive MVP for Michigan State.
Filling Max Bullough’s shoes is an impossible task. Jones won’t be expected to totally replace Bullough, but since he has been moved to middle linebacker he will have a lot more responsibility than he had a season ago.
Jones will be looked to as the quarterback of the defense next season. Predicting his ability to be the leader of the defense is tough to do, but he has great physical tools and has been a productive linebacker in the past so he definitely has a chance to succeed.
Jones is going to have a large say in whether or not the 2014 Spartan defense can come close to being as stingy as the 2013 group. If he excels in his first year at middle linebacker, he could easily be considered the MVP of the defense.
As boring as it might be, I have to go with the most talented player on the Spartan defense as the 2014 MVP, and that’s Shilique Calhoun. With a full season as a starter under his belt, Calhoun will be even more dominant for the Spartans next year, earning him the prestigious honor of Spartan Dawg MVP.