The Michigan State Spartans are looking to defend their Big Ten title in 2014 and make a run to the College Football Playoff. If the Spartans hope to repeat their success from last season, they will have to replace some major leadership from their defense which ranked as one of the best in the nation in 2013. Their biggest hole may be at middle linebacker where Michigan State will turn to Taiwan Jones to lead the way next fall.
Jones played as an outside linebacker in the Spartans’ defense last season where he finished fourth on the team in tackles, recording 67 takedowns. The rising senior has played in 41 games during his career with 17 starts, recording 123 tackles and 13 tackles for loss. With the graduation of Max Bullough this offseason, Jones will get bumped inside to become the defensive leader for the Spartans next season.
Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi raved about Jones during the spring, saying this he has a more physical build and will make a natural move inside this fall. His size will be a major asset as he mans the middle of the defense in 2014, though he has to show a mastery of the defensive scheme in order to be a more effective leader. He has embraced his role as a leader for 2014, working on leading with confidence during the spring.
For Michigan State, the key to their continued success next fall will be to reload on defense. Jones plays a major role in that effort next season and his transition to a leader of the defense at middle linebacker will be key to the Spartans’ run this fall.