April 9, 2008

Video: Tressel says young linebackers growing up

EAST LANSING - Aside from senior captain Kaleb Thornhill, the players Michigan State linebackers coach Mike Tressel worked with during his first season as a Michigan State assistant were more Spartan Pups than Spartan Dawgs.

Tressel is working with sophomores and juniors this spring. The difference has been noticeable with young linebackers like sophomores Greg Jones and Eric Gordon are able to spend more time making reads and less time on learning the defense.

"Honestly, last year as a freshman he was thinking what's my job?," said Tressel of Jones last fall. "It could have been 1st-and-10 or 3rd-and-10, they could have been in pro-I or all spread out across the field and he was going to play the same. That was okay for the first year, but you've been here for a year and you know the defense. Now, let's know what the offense is telling us. Let's take that information, let's anticipate. He'll be able to play that much faster. He's doing a good job."

Jones has a strong understanding of the defense. He has been moved around at multiple linebacker positions. Recently, Jones has spent some time at inside linebacker as Michigan State has gotten good production from outside linebackers Brandon Denson, a walk-on who Tressel says has a tremendous amount of athleticism and physical ability, and converted receiver Ryan Allison, who has bulked up to 220 pounds and has shown promise at linebacker.

Tressel said Tuesday that Adam Decker, Jones, Gordon, Allison, and Denson were having a strong spring for Michigan State. Josh Rouse, says Tressel, is a step behind Decker. Jon Misch was cleared for contact on Tuesday.

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