Big Ten: Minnesota Golden Goophers
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Like many defensive coordinators, Michigan State's Pat Narduzzi is spending spring ball shuffling the deck.
Fortunately for Narduzzi, he has college football's version of a wild card.
|Joe Robbins/Getty Images|
|Greg Jones led the Spartans in tackles as both a freshman and a sophomore.|
Spartans junior Greg Jones is the type of player who excels just about anywhere he lines up on defense. This spring he's taking reps at middle linebacker, outside linebacker and even rush end.
"Depending on the down and distance and the package, he'll be all over the place," Narduzzi said. "We really don't want people to know where that guy is, and he's smart enough that we can almost put him anywhere."
And to think, the prospect of switching positions was a main reason why top-level programs stayed away from Jones during recruiting.
He played defensive end for most of his high school career at Cincinnati powerhouse Archbishop Moeller, switching to linebacker for his senior season. Jones can be found in recruiting databases as both a linebacker and a defensive end.
"Converting to linebacker, a lot of guys don't make a clean transition," Jones said. "That was the big thing. Ohio State or whoever just didn't want to take that chance, and I was perfectly fine with that."
Not only did Jones make a spotless transition at Michigan State, but he has become one of the Big Ten's top linebackers. He led the Spartans in tackles as both a freshman (78) and a sophomore (127), and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches last year after finishing third in the league in tackles and ninth in tackles for loss (14.5).
Michigan State returns eight starters from a defense after a 9-4 season, and Jones is the linchpin.
"He's a smart football player," Narduzzi said. "His freshman year, he didn't do a lot of things right. Last year, he did a lot of things right. And right now, he's doing almost everything right."
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
12:00 PM ET South Florida 19 Wisconsin 12:00 PM ET Tulane Rutgers 12:00 PM ET Iowa Purdue 12:00 PM ET Wyoming 9 Michigan State 12:00 PM ET Northwestern Penn State 1:30 PM ET Maryland Indiana 3:30 PM ET Minnesota Michigan 6:00 PM ET Cincinnati 22 Ohio State 9:00 PM ET Illinois 21 Nebraska