The Michigan State linebacking corps will look much different next season than it did in 2013. Max Bullough is no longer around to run the show, and Denicos Allen won’t be there to terrorize quarterbacks anymore, but there are some talented young linebackers on the MSU roster ready to step in and replace them.
Job number one for the Michigan State linebackers in 2014 will be replacing Max Bullough. Now when I say replace Max Bullough, I don’t mean that MSU needs to find someone who can do everything he did for the defense, but rather that it needs to find a competent replacement. It appears that guy is going to be Taiwan Jones.
Jones started 13 of Michigan State’s 14 games at star (weakside) linebacker as a junior in 2013. He is known as a run-stopper who can fill holes extremely effectively. His 67 tackles last season were a career high and were the fourth most on the team. Jones has made the move to middle linebacker where he is currently listed as the starter. His playing experience and knowledge of the defense make him a prime candidate to step in for Bullough, even though he doesn’t have much experience at middle linebacker.
Junior Darien Harris is the favorite to start at star linebacker in 2014 after earning significant playing time at middle linebacker in the Rose Bowl last year. In that game Harris recorded a career-high five tackles while filling in for the suspended Max Bullough. Harris has ideal size at 6-foot 228 pounds, but lacks game experience. Harris looks to be a solid replacement at star linebacker, and his performance in the Rose Bowl shows he isn’t afraid of the spotlight but he has yet to show that he is capable of being a starter week in and week out.
As far as a replacement for Denicos Allen goes, Ed Davis seems to be the primary candidate. Davis got a little playing time in 2013, primarily as a pass rusher in third down situations. He was extremely effective in that role, tallying four sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss last year. Like Darien Harris, Davis is a redshirt junior who has the potential to be an impact player but has to prove he has what it takes to be a starter.
Two other names that are worth keeping an eye out for are Shane Jones and Jon Reschke. They both redshirted as freshman in 2013, and both came to MSU as rather highly touted recruits. Each were ranked as top-200 recruits coming out of high school and figure to bring competition to the linebacker positions. Don’t be surprised if either Jones or Reschke end up earning significant playing time or even earn a starting job in 2014.
The MSU linebacking corps lost two of it’s best members in recent memory in Max Bullough and Denicos Allen, but Taiwan Jones, Darien Harris and company are ready to prove they can carry the torch for the heart and soul of the Spartan defense.
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