Defensive line coach Ron Burton leaving Michigan State 'for new opportunities'

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Just when it looked like Mel Tucker’s staff was set for the 2022 season, there is now another void to fill.

Defensive line coach Ron Burton said in a post Sunday on Twitter that he was moving on from Michigan State and looking “for new opportunities.”

Ron Burton had been on Michigan State's coaching staff since 2013.

“East Lansing and Michigan State will always hold a special place in my heart,” Burton said. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Burton came to Michigan State in 2013 as the defensive line coach under Mark Dantonio, helping the Spartans capture a Big Ten championship on their way to a Rose Bowl victory. He led the entire defensive line for the next three seasons as Michigan State added another Big Ten title and reached the College Football Playoff in 2015, a season all four starters — ends Shilque Calhoun and Marcus Rush, as well as tackles Malik McDowell and Lawrence Thomas — earned All-Big Ten honors. From 2017-19, Burton coached the defensive tackles before accepting a position on Tucker’s staff in 2020, once again leading the entire defensive line.

It was considered a significant hire when Burton opted to stay at MSU under Tucker after Burton had initially accepted an offer to coach the defensive line at Indiana before deciding to stay in East Lansing.

Burton has twice won the FootballScoop National Defensive Line Coach of the Year award (2013, '18) and during his tenure, the Spartans have led the Big Ten in rushing defense four times (2013, 2014, 2017, 2018) and have ranked in the NCAA FBS Top 25 seven of his nine seasons, including twice at No. 1, in 2014 and 2018.

Burton played at North Carolina and spent four seasons in the NFL before beginning his coaching career at his alma mater as a graduate assistant in 1992. From there, Burton was defensive backs at Morehead State (1994); linebackers at Eastern Michigan (1995-96); linebackers at Indiana (1997-2001); defensive line at Grand Valley State (2002); and defensive line at Air Force (2003-12).

“I would like to thank Coach Mark Dantonio and Coach Mel Tucker for the opportunity to be the Defensive Line Coach at Michigan State,” Burton said in his post. “For nearly a decade I’ve had the privilege to coach some of the finest young men in front of one of college football’s best fan bases.”

How much the recent hiring of pass-rush specialist Brandon Jordan had on Burton’s decision to leave is unclear. On Saturday, Tucker and Michigan State announced it was bringing Jordan aboard, signaling a move for Burton to return his focus to the interior of the defensive line.

It comes after Michigan State went from 91st in the nation in sacks per game in 2020 with 1.7 to tied for fourth at 3.3 per game in 2021. The Spartans’ 43 sacks also led the Big Ten.

Twitter: @mattcharboneau