Linebacker Greg Jones has been a tackling machine ever since he set foot on Michigan State's campus.
He has led the Spartans in tackles in each of his first three seasons, racking up 78 in 2007, 127 in 2008 and 154 last fall, a number that ranked third nationally. Jones ranks eighth in team history with 359 career tackles, and barring a drop-off in production in 2010, he should have no trouble securing the No. 2 spot, currently held by Percy Snow (473 tackles).
But can Jones do even better? Can the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year catch Michigan State career tackles leader Dan Bass, who finished with 541 stops?
Even better yet, can he make a run for the all-time FBS tackles lead?
Former Northwestern linebacker Tim McGarigle holds the NCAA tackles mark -- tackles statistics have been recorded since the 2000 season -- with 545 between 2002-05. Having covered McGarigle's entire career at NU, I can tell you his name was called after nearly every play.
Jones needs 186 tackles to catch McGarigle, a lofty number but not an impossible one.
If Michigan State plays 13 games next fall (12 regular season plus one bowl), Jones would need to average 14.3 stops per game. Jones recorded 13 or more tackles in six games in 2009, recording 14 stops four times and 15 stops two times.
Since New Mexico State's Jimmy Cottrell led the nation with 179 tackles in 2005, no FBS player has recorded more than 165 stops in a season.
So it can be done, but it won't be easy.