The Michigan State football team boasted a top-shelf defense last season, one that led the country in stopping the run.
The Spartans figure to be just as tough in 2019, with plenty of key starters returning, including linebacker Joe Bachie.
ESPN posted a "way-too-early" All-America team on Thursday, and listed the 6-foot-2, 238-pound Bachie as one of three linebackers on the squad.
He is the only player from either Michigan State or Michigan to earn a spot on ESPN's team.
"Bachie's 102 tackles led the way for a Michigan State defense that was one of the most stout in the nation," David M. Hale of ESPN writes. "Bachie was a first-team All-Big Ten linebacker and the key member of a unit that led the nation in rush defense, finished eighth in scoring defense and third in defensive efficiency."
Bachie also had 8.5 tackles for loss, five pass breakups and three forced fumbles last season for the Spartans. His return for 2019 was somewhat in question, until he announced Jan. 4 he would return for his senior season instead of enter the NFL Draft.
Two other stalwarts on the Michigan State defense — defensive tackle Raequan Williams and defensive end Kenny Willekes — also said they'd be back as seniors, with Williams telling reporters leading up to the Redbox Bowl, and Willekes announcing his decision on Jan. 8.