Dantonio Announces Defensive Changes as Spring Practice Starts

Michigan State undoubtedly had one of the best defenses in the nation last season. However, after losing six starting defensive players due to graduation, coordinator Pat Narduzzi has his work cut out for him in 2014.

The Spartans lost two starters on all three levels of the defense.

Tyler Hoover and Micajah Reynolds from the defensive line, Max Bullough and Denicos Allen at linebacker, and Darqueze Dennard and Isaiah Lewis from the secondary.

Important reserve players like defensive end Denzel Drone and linebackers Jairus Jones and Kyler Elsworth also will be graduating.

Head coach Mark Dantonio met with media members Monday, a day before spring practice kicked off to announce the changes to the stellar defense.

The biggest changes by far were at the linebacker position.

Senior Taiwan Jones was shifted from the outside linebacker to middle linebacker, where Bullough played the past three seasons.

Junior Darien Harris, who took some snaps at middle linebacker in the Rose Bowl to fill Bullough’s absence, is now listed as the starter at outside linebacker.

Junior Ed Davis will move to the inside linebacker starting position, while Riley Bullough, the younger brother of Max, is listed as the backup.

Experience is not a large concern with this group, as the three starters combined have 161 tackles and 17 starts in their careers. Jones leads the group, accounting for 123 of those tackles and all 17 starts.

These starting spots are not set in stone, as Dantonio said the linebacker position will be evaluated carefully throughout all of spring practice.

Davis will have a slow start to the spring however, as he will miss two to three weeks with an injury that was not disclosed to the public.

In the secondary, junior speedster RJ Williamson is listed as the starting strong safety, replacing Lewis.

Sophomore Darian Hicks is listed as the starting cornerback beside Trae Waynes, who both will try to replace Dennard, one of the nation’s top corners last season.

Along with Davis, Dantonio announced that sophomore running back Delton Williams will miss about two weeks of spring practice after an offseason shoulder surgery.

Williams, who rushed for 238 yards and a touchdown in 2013, looks to add to Michigan State’s dynamic rushing attack under starter Jeremy Langford.

Dan Tyler is the host of Spartan Red Zone for Impact Sports.

Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports