The Michigan State football team had its first fall practice on Saturday afternoon but the real news came afterwards when Mark Dantonio revealed that junior defensive tackle Damon Knox will be out for an undetermined amount of time after undergoing surgery.
The details of the injury and the surgery were not disclosed by Coach Dantonio and he did not give any indication as to when Knox would be back and ready to play.
Knox is entering his junior season and was listed as a starter in the team’s pre-season depth chart. Knox appeared in 14 games last year for the Spartans, starting against Michigan and Nebraska. He made 22 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss.
The loss of Knox will test the Spartans depth on the defensive line early in the year. MSU already had to replace graduating seniors Tyler Hoover and Micajah Reynolds at defensive tackle and now will be without Knox for a period of time.
Fifth year senior James Kittredge is listed behind Knox on the depth chart at nose tackle and will likely get the first shot to replace him. Kittredge appeared in two games last year while working his way back from hernia surgery. He appeared in all 13 games as a sophomore, including five starts, and tallied 14 tackles including 4.5 tackles for loss.
Junior Lawrence Thomas will also be in the mix to replace Knox. Thomas was a highly recruited player out of high school and has bounced around to different positons during his time in East Lansing in order to get playing time. He is listed at both defensive end and defensive tackle and Mark Dantonio said at the Big Ten media days that, “I think it’s time for him to be a starter on this football team, he’s too good of an athlete.”
Freshman five star recruit Malik McDowell out of Southfield could also possibly see time at defensive tackle and defensive end at some point throughout the year assuming he is not red-shirted.