Names to Remember

I'm sure you've heard that Greg Jones and Eric Gordon are gone.  It seems to be asked during every round of media availability how everyone from the coaches to Max Bullough to Johnny Adams to Kirk Cousins will deal with not having those two in the center of the defense.  Jones has moved on to blocking punts for the New York Giants and Eric Gordon is trying to make the Cleveland Browns roster.

[caption id="attachment_75" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Future star mike linebacker Max Bullough #40"][/caption]

College football is different from the NFL in many ways.  They don't get much, there isn't as much talent on the rosters, and there are new players every 3 or 4 years.  While you can still be safe wearing a #8 MSU jersey this year (not a Kirk Cousins jersey, that would be illegal for them to sell for profit...), he too will be gone next year and all the ladies will have to find a new heart throb to drool over (Connor Cook).

Three sophomores could be on this list but they are already recognizable: Le'Veon Bell, William Gholston, and Darqueze Dennard.  Here are a few names that you should get to know now because I think they will be the future stars at MSU.

  • Max Bullough, LB #40 Sophomore
  • Nick Hill, RB #20 RS Freshman
  • Dan France, LT #59 RS Sophomore
  • Travis Jackson, C #63 RS Freshman
  • Skyler Burkland (nee Schofner), RT #70 RS Freshman
  • Isaiah Lewis, S #9, Sophomore
  • Taiwan Jones, LB #34 True Freshman

Max Bullough will be the guy who makes you forget who Greg Jones was.  He's the new middle linebacker and soon to be leader of the Spartan defense.  He has the pedigree to be a great player with his grandpa, dad, and uncles (Hank, Shane, Chuck, and Bobby Morse respectively) all playing at MSU and his other grandpa and another uncle both playing at Notre Dame.  Max's younger brother Riley is also committed to MSU to play football next fall.  Now is the time for Max to make a name for himself.

Linebacker Coach Mike Tressel seems to think that Bullough will be able to take over this year.  "I'm excited about Max making plays.  I always knew without a doubt he'd be able to run the defense.  Everyone would feel confident about what they're supposed to do when he's running the show.  That he would fill his gap physically, do his job, and now he's making a lot more plays too," Tressel said.

[caption id="attachment_76" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Yes, Max, Spartan Pride"][/caption]

Bullough is much bigger than both Jones and Gordon.  He's listed at 6'3" 245.  He won't be as athletic as Gordon, but he's playing in the middle so that doesn't matter.  Bullough is smart, he knows that he's replacing Jones.  The good thing is that he doesn't feel the extra pressure of it.  "All he ever did was try to help me.  Knowing Greg personally and how much he helped me, it makes it more comforting for me because of all the advice he gave me and what I was able to do and what I’m going to be able to do this year because of what he has done in the past.”

Trust me, Jones won't be the one who will be missed, Eric Gordon will.  While I feel totally confident that Max Bullough will be a star and future All-Big Ten 1st teamer, I do not have that level of confidence in the joint efforts of Steve Gardiner and Denicos Allen who are still competing to replace Gordo.

[caption id="attachment_77" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="RB Nick Hill #20"][/caption]

Edwin Baker, Larry Caper, and Le'Veon Bell are the running backs of the now...and the future for that matter since none are seniors.  Nick Hill is the playmaker of the future.  Hill is the 5'7ish lightning bug that will be featured some paired with Keshawn Martin on kick returns.  He might be small but he uses his power well.  He's the one who busted Lawrence Thomas' shoulder on a tackling drill and Thomas outweighs him by 100 lbs.  While he won't be featured much in the backfield this year, he will still be put in to make plays.  So this season when you see #20 make somebody look foolish remember that he is Nick Hill.

The offensive line this year will have 3/5 starters who have never played an offensive snap in college.  Read that sentence again, let it sink in, then understand why I'm still nervous about the season.  It doesn't matter how many skill players you have if your line can't hold off the defense for more than 1 second.  Dan France should be the starting left tackle.  Travis Jackson is ahead of Blake Treadwell for the starting center spot.  Jackson injured his ankle so that might affect things but Treadwell, like France, is switching over from being a defensive lineman.  Skyler Burkland is ahead of Fou Fonoti to start at right tackle.  While this makes me feel good about the line for years to come having so many experienced guys 3 years from now, it means it is tremendously inexperienced now.  Dan France even told me that he's never really pass blocked before.

Johnny Adams told me that he thinks the secondary will be better than last year.  I agree with him.  I also thought that Marcus Hyde and Chris L Rucker were crap.  Isaiah Lewis and Darqueze Dennard are the main factors in this unit being better than last year where all 4 starters were All-Big Ten performers.  Trenton Robinson is the leader of the defense, and Johnny Adams will step up to be the big play maker/shut down corner.  Opposing QBs will look away from those two and target Dennard and Lewis most of the time.

The last player to remember for the future is Taiwan Jones.  The coaches have been raving about the true freshman since the first day of fall camp.  I saw him without pads on Monday and there is no way that he is only 18/19.  He is listed at 6'3" 234 and is ripped.  Absolutely ripped.  He won't see much of the field this year, but he will be a force in the future.  Lawrence Thomas got most of the hype from this recruiting class, but Jones will be the future star.

One last note here since I don't want to make a different post just for it.  Be ready for a new look to the field in Spartan Stadium.  This is just me making assumptions here.  I have not confirmed this with anybody, but I fully expect the "Block S" to be replaced by a Spartan Head at the 50 yard line much like they changed center court at Breslin.  They replaced the turf thanks to that dip Bono and have yet to paint the field.  Well they also replaced the field turf of the indoor practice field at Duffy Daugherty.  And the 50 is painted with a Spartan Head.  I doubt they would practice on a field that looks different from the field they would play on.

Back to the Michigan State Spartans Newsfeed