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NCAA Football Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State Football’s 5 Most Intriguing Players Heading Into 2014

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5 Most Intriguing Players Heading Into 2014

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If key players step up this coming season, Michigan State could win the Big Ten in 2014 and capture back-to-back Rose Bowl victories.

Now, before you fall out of your Brutus-head indoor lawn chairs, Ohio State fans, Braxton Miller is not the second coming, and he’s not the best QB in the nation. And Michigan fans, I love you, but that’s a big house of horrors you got there in beautiful Ann Arbor. Cherish this basketball season, Wolverine faithful.

The Spartan defense last season, led by guys like Darqueze Dennard and Max Bullough, was dominant from start to finish. However, key pieces of that solid defense will be missing in 2014, including Dennard and Bullough. Their offense was shaky at the start of the season and really came on just enough in the second half of the year to put a few points on the board, while the defense did the rest. This year, the focus will have to shift slightly over to the offense.

MSU will pretty much be getting all of their key offensive players back in 2014, including starting QB Connor Cook, starting RB Jeremy Langford, WR Tony Lippett and WR Aaron Burbridge. Not only are they returning, it would be reasonable to assume they’d get better after another year of training under their belts.

The one place they will be lacking on offense, as far as experience goes, is the offensive line. Losing both their starting offensive guards means other guys on the line will have to step up to help protect Cook, and open holes for Langford.

This is an exciting season coming up for the East Lansing footballers, and if some of these key players show up, the Spartans could end up on top in the Big Ten.

Chris Loud is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @cfloud, "Like" him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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5. Jeremy Langford

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I talked about the offensive line being a possible weak spot, but Jeremy Langford has the potential to be a dominating running back. If the offense balances a bit more with consistent passing from Connor Cook and guys show up and block on the line, Langford could have a breakout season.

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4. Trae Waynes

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The unofficial “No Fly Zone” co-pilot to Darqueze Dennard, Trae Waynes could be the No. 1 cornerback this season, and his play will directly impact the success of the defense. He did have 50 tackles and three interceptions in 2013. However, if Waynes doesn’t step up, the “No Fly Zone” may start to look more like the sky above of I-94 at Detroit Metro.

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3. Connor Cook

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Coming off a stellar Rose Bowl, Connor Cook still hasn’t quite silenced the critics. Many people still think he was just “good enough” to go along with the best defense in the nation last year. Cook’s timing with his receivers will be key this season, as most are coming back, and hopefully his confidence will stay high through the offseason so the Spartan offense can make a better start to their season than last year.

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2. Shilique Calhoun

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Shilique Calhoun has the talent and the leadership to possibly take over for Max Bullough as the leader on the defense. At the defensive end position, he should be able to get after the quarterback and stop the run. The Spartans have had some dominant defensive lineman recently, and hopefully Calhoun can join that list.

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1. Damion Terry

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Here’s the real wild card, no pun intended. Michigan State hasn’t had a true mobile quarterback in, I don’t know, forever? Maybe Tony Banks? Does Jeff Smoker count?

Damion Terry was actually fighting for the starting job last summer, but due to injury and illness, the staff decided to place him on the scout team instead. The starting QB “job” is Cook’s to lose, but having a mobile quarterback with a good arm waiting in the wings could make things interesting.

Theoretically, a quarterback competition is supposed to breed better results from all parties. The key word is theoretically. Regardless of how it pans out at the starting position, don’t be surprised to see Terry come in and do some damage, at least sporadically throughout the season.