Breaking down the Class of 2014: Defensive Backs

MSU hopes to continue setting the standard for the defense in the Big Ten by adding three freshman to the defensive backfield this fall. The “No Fly Zone” defense lost its Jim Thorpe Award-winning cornerback Darqueze Dennard, but still return a lot of talent. Here are the new faces joining the “No Fly Zone”:

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CB Vayante Copeland, Thurgood Marshall H.S. (Dayton, Ohio)

The 5-foot-11-inch, 186-pound Ohio native picked the Spartans on National Signing Day, and turned down in-state schools Akron, Bowling Green and Cincinnati. Copeland was also a standout running back in high school, ending up as the 24th ranked running back by Head coach Mark Dantonio believes Copeland has the size and ability to make it as a defensive back at MSU.

S Montae Nicholson, Gateway H.S. (Monroeville, Pa.)

Nicholson was a highly coveted recruit at the safety position and turned down offers from Oregon, Florida State and others. At 6-foot-2-inch, 202 pounds, Nicholson has the size and athleticism to provide a huge boost to the already dominant Spartan secondary.

S T.J. Harrell, Tampa Catholic H.S. (Tampa, Fla.)

Another freshman coming in at safety is Harrell. An athlete at 6 foot-1-inch, 210 pounds, Harrell played snaps at running back, defensive end, linebacker and in the defensive backfield in high school.

CB Jalen Watts-Jackson, St. Mary’s H.S. (West Bloomfield, Mich.)

Coming in at 5-foot-11-inch, 175 pounds, Watts-Jackson is a speedy corner that is capable of making big plays in the secondary and on special teams for the Spartans. Watts-Jackson has been working on his size by getting in the weight room and adding a few pounds, as his current weight is 187 pounds, according to

Bradley Allen is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.

Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports