Michigan State’s defense has built a reputation of excellence year after year. Every year the same thought has come to mind, “You can’t run the ball against the Spartan defense.” That run defense is centered around the linebackers and after the year they just came off of, ranking 49th nationally giving up 158.7 yards/game. For the Spartan defense to get back to the form they were in just a few short years ago, it will need to start at the linebacker position. The Spartans are going to have replace seniors Riley Bullough and Ed Davis, along with Jon Reschke who left the team two weeks ago.
Rs Jr. Byron Bullough
Yes, there is another Bullough in a Spartan uniform this fall. Byron Bullough is the younger brother of both Riley and Max, and just like his older brothers, will look to come in and stand out at middle linebacker for the MSU defense. Byron, a 6-foot-1/230 pound MLB out of Traverse City, is going into his junior season in East Lansing. In 2016, Bullough got a small amount of time at linebacker and started to get more time until an injury only allowed him to play in one of the final five games. Byron will need to step up just as the rest of the family did.
Sr. Chris Frey
A player I personally love on this MSU defense, Chris Frey is a scrappy linebacker that brings a strong veteran presence. Chris Frey is a class A ball hawker with a strong sense of size and speed. Frey is 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds. In 2016, Frey recorded 96 tackles and started in all 12 games. Frey will need to bring his veteran leadership to push the young linebacker crew of Michigan State.
Jr. Andrew Dowell
Andrew Dowell, a 6-foot-1 and 220 pound star linebacker is coming off his first full year of playing in 2016. Dowell played and stood out in all 12 games for the Spartans last year. He had 67 tackles, a sack, and an interception on the stat line for MSU. 2017 will be a pivotal year for Dowell to try and shine, as he will be in a key role on the Spartan defense.
So. Jon Bachie
A 3-star recruit coming in to 2016, Jon Bachie was expected to be red-shirted. After several injuries to the defense, coach Dantonio decided to burn the red-shirt and play Bachie. That plan started well, when in his debut, Bachie had 7 tackles in a game vs Maryland. But Bachie was only able to play in one more game for the rest of the season (Rutgers, recording 4 tackles) as injuries shortened Bachie’s season. This young linebacker will need to take a big step up for the Spartans in 2017.