The big name returning is Ervin Baldwin (Sr.), lining up at defensive end. A junior-college transfer a year ago, Baldwin made an impact immediately. Last season he led the defensive line in tackles and tied for the team lead in sacks.
Baldwin should excel in a revamped defensive scheme with a new head coach who has built a reputation on defenses that dominate. However, Baldwin will need to demonstrate consistency to be considered a top tier player in the Big Ten.
Dry spells last season could have been the result of a learning curve, but when Baldwin had it going, he was difficult to stop. "When Ervin has his motor running, he can make some plays in the offensive backfield," Coach Dantonio said in an MSU release.
Dantonio also noted the impressive performance of DT Justin Kershaw (Jr.) over the past few months: "Justin Kershaw has had an outstanding spring. We've been able to move him inside from the end position, and he's been very productive in there."
A lack of depth at defensive tackle might pose problems for the Spartans; but help is on the way. On signing day in February, Green and White fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when DT Antonio Jeremiah (6-5, 295) officially committed to MSU. Jeremiah will have an opportunity to compete for playing time immediately and could become an impact player as he matures.
Another new face expected to compete for playing time is late-signing junior college transfer Michael Jordan (6-5, 295). Signing over 3 months late, Jordan improves a fine defensive line recruiting class for Dantonio and staff.
On the inside next to Kershaw (aside from incoming recruits) Ogemdi Nwagbuo (Sr.) has a chance to start more than the 6 games he started last season. John Stipek (So.) has impressed Dantonio and also figures to be in the mix for the tackle position.
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