Big Ten: Justin Wilson

Opening camp: Michigan State

August, 9, 2010
8/09/10
11:00
AM ET
Schedule: The Spartans hit the field for their first preseason practice today at 3:30 p.m. ET.

What's new: Mark Dantonio made his first staff change in quite some time, as he hired running backs coach Brad Salem to replace Dan Enos, who left to become Central Michigan's head coach. The Spartans are transitioning to a 3-4 alignment on defense as they look to maximize their talent there. Keith Nichol, who spent most of the 2009 season as Michigan State's No. 2 quarterback, has a new position: wide receiver. Although Michigan State has good depth at receiver, Nichol enters the season as a projected starter.

Sidelined: The Spartans are relatively healthy entering camp. Offensive tackle Henry Conway is fully cleared to practice after sustaining a neck injury. Linebacker Justin Wilson, an 2010 recruit, isn't on the roster and will spend time at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. The December on-campus assault involving Spartans players resulted in the departures of several players, including nose tackle Oren Wilson.

Key battle: Offensive line is a group to watch this month, and especially the competition at right tackle. Senior J'Michael Deane and junior Jared McGaha are listed as co-starters on the preseason depth chart. Conway, who generated some buzz before his neck injury, should be right in the mix. Another battle takes place at kicker, as Kevin Muma and Dan Conroy try to replace standout Brett Swenson.

New on the scene: Michigan State's recent recruiting success is well documented, and the coaches should see the fruits of their labor this fall. Two incoming recruits, William Gholston and Max Bullough, will enter the rotation at linebacker right away. Running backs Nick Hill and LeVeon Bell also might work their way into the mix.

Back in the fold: Johnny Adams started two games at cornerback as a freshman in 2008 before missing 10 games last fall with a shoulder injury. Granted a medical hardship, Adams returns and enters camp as a projected starter. Michigan State's secondary really needs playmakers, and Adams could provide a big boost this fall.

Breaking out: Keshawn Martin made the most of his touches in 2009, averaging 22.8 yards per reception, 28.9 yards per kick return and 7.4 yards per punt return. Michigan State will make a much stronger effort to get the ball in Martin's hands this fall. All-American Greg Jones is the leader on defense, but the Spartans also need promising young players like Jerel Worthy, Blake Treadwell, Trenton Robinson and Adams to step up.

Quotable: "We have a lot of experience back. That speaks to our leadership as a program and as a team right now. From the way our players have worked thus far and winter workouts, spring practice and now summer conditioning, it would not seem that we're overconfident. We have some things that we need to prove. I think that's very evident." -- head coach Mark Dantonio

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