- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Now that spring practice is over, we're starting a new series looking at the most indispensable players on each Big Ten team.
By indispensable, we don't necessarily mean best. We mean the players who would be hardest to replace between now and the start of the season if they got hurt/suspended/bested by a super villain, etc. That could be because of their value to the team or because of a lack of depth at their position.
We'll pick two players from each team, usually offense and defense but not always. Next up: Michigan State.
Max Bullough, LB
The Spartans are so loaded on defense that they could probably make up for the loss of any one guy. But Bullough isn't just any guy. He's the on-field computer for Pat Narduzzi's defense, a guy who knows where every player is supposed to be on every snap. Bullough is more than just a leader in making defensive calls, however. He has also led the team in tackles each of the past two years, including 111 stops in 2012. Could Michigan State find another linebacker to take over Bullough's role? Probably, with potentially Kyler Elsworth or maybe even Max's younger brother, Riley. But could Narduzzi find someone to do the job at the same level as Bullough? No way.
Darqueze Dennard, CB
We'll stick with two defensive players for the Spartans, because no one on the offensive side of the ball is distinguished enough to be considered indispensable at this point. Like with Bullough, Michigan State would see a dropoff without Dennard, who could stake a claim to being the Big Ten's top cornerback. People touted teammate Johnny Adams as a possible first-round pick last summer, but Dennard ended up outplaying him. Sophomores Trae Waynes and Arjen Colquhoun got lots of first-team reps with Dennard injured earlier this spring. The Spartans hope that was a one-time only deal for 2013.
4dDan Murphy and Mitch Sherman
4dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
5dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy