This College Football Crazy blog was not around in 2013, but if it had been there would have been plenty of posts about the Big 10 champion Spartans.
Defense. That team had a great defense, for sure.
As a fan of great defense, this team was so much fun to watch.
The Michigan State Spartans had the number one overall defense in the country in 2013. Led by Middle Linebacker Max Bullough, Outside Linebacker Denicos Allen, Safety Kurtis Drummond and Defensive End Shilique Calhoun this defense was incredible.
The above guys were far from the only stars with Cornerback Darqueze Dennard, Linebacker Taiwan Jones and the other Defensive Backs Isaiah Lewis, Trae Waynes and RJ Williamson.
Defensive Linemen Micajah Reynolds, Tyler Hoover and Marcus Rush controlled the line of
scrimmage, along with Calhoun.
Denicos Allen at Outside Linebacker led the team in tackles. He wasn’t a huge guy at 5-11, 220 but he was fast and he was all over the field. His game was all about speed.
His 98 total tackles was tops on that defense, but he also had 16 1/2 tackles for loss and 5 1/2 Quarterback sacks. In addition to the sacks, Allen also had another 10 Quarterback hurries. He was a very disruptive player and in some games it actually felt like there were two guys wearing the same number.
He also had a 45 yard fumble recovery for a Touchdown.
Allen, because of his lack of great size, was overlooked by the NFL, but he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers briefly before taking his talents to the CFL.
It’s not usually a good thing when one of your Safeties is one of the leaders in total tackles, but Kurtis Drummond was second behind Allen with 91. Drummond had 4 Interceptions and returned one of them for a Touchdown. Drummond was a 1st team All American, but he went undrafted after his college career ended. He signed with the Houston Texans and is currently a member of their team.
Max Bullough was their Middle Linebacker and a team leader. I wrote about the Bullough family here: Bullough Family
Bullough was not only a team leader, but he was also one of the top tacklers. Bullough was one of the guys that got the other players fired up before and during the games, he was a very vocal leader. He led the team in tackles in 2011 and 2012, but he was 3rd in 2013 with 76 total tackles. The 6-3, 245 Bullough had 9 and 1/2 tackles for loss and 1 and a 1/2 Quarterback sacks. He also contributed
with 10 Quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
Like Drummond, he was also undrafted, but he signed with the Texans and still plays with them.
The Spartan Linebackers were very aggressive and active in 2013. Besides Denicos Allen and Max Bullough, Taiwan Jones was another real deal bringing attitude to enemy ball carriers. Jones was 6-3, 250 and he finished with 67 total tackles with 7 for loss. Jones plays for the New York Jets currently.
Cornerback Darqueze Dennard was possibly the best at his position in the country that season. Dennard, along with Kurtis Drummond, Isaiah Lewis, Trae Waynes and RJ Williamson were all members of the Spartan secondary and the ‘No Fly Zone’. These guys just didn’t give up much through the air and they picked off 14 enemy passes. Dennard totaled 62 tackles with 3 and a 1/2 for loss and 2 fumbles forced. He also had 4 interceptions and 10 passes broken up, but Quarterbacks tended to throw away from Dennard.
Dennard was a consensus All American in 2013 and he was picked in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Minnesota Vikings picked him with their 1st round pick at number 11.
The defensive player that had maybe the most incredible season of them all was Defensive End Shilique Calhoun, Although only a sophomore at the time, the 6-4, 250 Middletown, New Jersey native put on a show in 2013.
He had 2 fumble returns and he took both of them back for Touchdowns. He had an interception which he also returned for a Touchdown of 56 yards. In a couple of games, Calhoun actually outscored the Michigan State offense.
Calhoun had 14 tackles for loss and 7 1/2 sacks. He was always in the other team’s backfield which his 18 Quarterback hurries clearly illustrated.
Calhoun stayed at Michigan State all 4 years and was drafted in the 3rd round by the Oakland Raiders where he plays today.
The most fun game in 2013, at least to a defensive fan like myself, was the Michigan State vs Michigan game. Of course, our Wolverine friends would not have fond memories of this game. Calhoun was incredible and may have had the game of his life. He had 2 1/2 Quarterback sacks, 6 total tackles, and 3 tackles for loss. Plus, he had 2 more Quarterback hurries.
Michigan Quarterback Devin Gardner got to know Shilique Calhoun really well that day.
Denicos Allen was also on fire in this game with 9 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss and 2 Quarterback sacks.
If you watched that game you might have been like me feeling a little sympathy for Michigan Quarterback Devin Gardner. The frustration was plastered all over his face and his body language.
The other Defensive End opposite of Calhoun was Marcus Rush. Rush contributed 5 Quarterback
sacks and 7 1/2 tackles for loss.
Living up to expectations coming out of Cincinnati Moeller, Rush was a 6-2, 250 beast that took some pressure off of Calhoun on the other side.
Rush plays Outside Linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Isaiah Lewis was a senior Safety from Indianapolis and good against the pass and the run. Lewis was responsible for 2 more picks and 58 total tackles.
He bounced around the NFL for a while, but never stuck with anyone.
When you have consensus All American Darqueze Dennard at one Cornerback position and there’s Trae Waynes on the other side, things can be really tough for even the best Quarterbacks.
Waynes helped the secondary with 50 total tackles and 3 interceptions. He broke up 5 passes and even had a tackle for loss. Waynes was a sophomore in the 2013 season and he played one more season before declaring for the NFL Draft. At the NFL Combine, Waynes amazed while running a 4.31 40 yard dash which moved him up on the draft boards. The Minnesota Vikings drafted Waynes with the 11th pick of the 1st round in the 2015 Draft.
Yet another member of that No Fly Zone was sophomore Safety RJ Williamson. A very physical Defensive Back at 6-0, 215, Williamson finished the 2013 season with 44 total tackles and 1 interception.
Williamson was a sophomore on this team and after his senior season he signed with the Green Bay Packers as a free agent.
Micajah Reynolds at 6-5, 307 and Tyler Hoover at 6-7, 290 were the enforcers in the middle along with Mark Scarpinato at 6-3, 290. These Defensive Tackles controlled the interior line with Denzel Drone also helping out at Defensive End. Drone contributed 5 tackles for loss and 2 and 1/2 Quarterback sacks. The giant Hoover had 4 Quarterback sacks and Scarpinato contributed another
one. Reynolds caught on with the Baltimore Ravens. Hoover was with the Indianapolis Colts, but is currently a free agent. Scarpinato left football to go to medical school and after a year away he transferred to Pittsburgh to join former Michigan State Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi who is the head coach there.
Very few of these guys were very heavily recruited. Max Bullough was a 4 star Inside Linebacker from Traverse City, Michigan and rated as the 4th best Inside Linebacker in the country. He was a 3rd generation Spartan.
Trae Waynes was a 3 star Safety on ESPN’s list and the 94th rated player at his position in the country.
Kurtis Drummond was a 3 star Athlete rated as the 84th best as an Athlete.
Consensus All American Darqueze Dennard was listed as the 166th best Wide Receiver and a 2 star recruit. From a 2 star to a consensus All American is the American dream.
On the other side of the ball, Jeremy Langford and LeVeon Bell were ranked as the 192nd and 211th best Running Backs and 2 star recruits and both are in the NFL. Also on Offense was Left Tackle Jack Conklin. Not only was he All American, he was taken in the first round by the Tennessee Titans with the 8th pick. Conklin was not even rated in the 2012 class.
Either we can’t trust these rankings, or the rankings don’t decide how much heart these guys have, or Michigan State develops their players pretty well.
I would say that Mark Dantonio and his Michigan State staff develop their players really well. How else do you explain 3 first round draft picks?
As a lifetime college football fan, there has been a lot of teams that I want to watch every week and Michigan State of 2013 and 2014 was one of those teams. Those teams were far superior to the one that made the playoffs and was destroyed by Alabama in 2015.