East Lansing — As well as it appears the defense played in Michigan State’s second scrimmage of preseason camp Friday, the way things will eventually shake out at linebacker doesn’t appear any closer to being decided.
While it’s hard to draw too many conclusions based on scrimmage statistics, it does seem clear that the linebacking situation is anything but.
Junior Darien Harris seems to have stood out the most, recording six tackles, including a 2-yard loss, and had an interception and a pass breakup. While Harris had worked some in the middle early in camp after filing in for Max Bullough in the Rose Bowl, he seems to be close to solidifying the No. 1 spot at “Star” linebacker, one of the outside positions.
And while junior Ed Davis hasn’t done anything to lose his hold on the No. 1 spot on the strong side, or “Money,” position, sophomore Riley Bullough is making a push for playing time, getting reps on both sides.
Bullough, who had six tackles Friday, has drawn raves throughout camp. Last week defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said Bullough was “pushing somebody,” while coach Mark Dantonio praised him heading into the scrimmage.
“I think Riley Bullough has done some really good things in there,” Dantonio said.
Another player who appears to gaining a foothold on consistent playing time is fifth-year senior Mylan Hicks. The former defensive back will likely move into the “Star” position on obvious passing downs.
“Mylan Hicks has been a guy that you notice,” Dantonio said this week. “You notice him running, notice him moving. You notice his leadership out there as well. There’s always somebody in camp that catches your eye …. that is a guy that I think is gonna have a presence … a situational guy.”
The middle is just as unsettled.
Senior Taiwan Jones continues to hold on to the No. 1 spot, but redshirt freshman Jon Reschke has been putting the pressure on and had a solid scrimmage, collecting five tackles.
“Jon Reschke made some plays, and Riley Bullough was solid as well,” Dantonio said after the scrimmage. “Both of those guys play with a lot of enthusiasm and up-tempo. They’re both pushing (for playing time), and they’re both going to play. It’s sort of a linebacker group by committee right now, which is a positive thing because they’re young players. They’re good athletes, who play with a lot of emotion.”
The competition on the secondary has also been ramped up as sophomore Jermaine Edmondson and freshman Montae Nicholson performed well at cornerback and sophomore Demetrious Cox had five tackles.
With the Spartans entering their third week of camp Monday and the season opener drawing near on Aug. 29 against Jacksonville State, the competition should be at its peak in the next couple of weeks.
“Overall, the execution was better (for the defense),” Dantonio said. “It will be interesting to go back and look at the film because you always see something, but it was a great scrimmage. We got out of it what we wanted.”