3 Key players to watch for the Michigan State Spartans this season

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NCAA Football: Michigan at Michigan State
Oct 29, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans flag bearers preform on the field prior to a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

From 2013-15 the Michigan State Spartans compiled a remarkable 36-5 record overall, capturing two Big Ten championships and a Rose Bowl victory along the way. Coming into 2016 with high hopes, the Spartans plummeted to the bottom of the conference and finished the season with a disappointing 3-9 record, by far the worst mark in the Mark Dantonio era.

Hoping to put the 2016 campaign behind them, a fresh new face of recruits led by a few returning starters look to put the Spartans back on top. Let’s take a look at three guys who look to make a huge impact.

BRIAN LEWERKE

Brian Lewerke burst onto the scene last year as a redshirt freshman and made his first career start against Northwestern. It was the first time a freshman started at quarterback for the Spartans since Stephen Reaves in 2004.

Lewerke played in four games where he went 31-57 with two touchdowns and one interception. He also was very productive on the ground rushing for 149 yards on just 21 carries. Against in-state rival Michigan, Lewerke was having a good game going 6-10 through the air with a touchdown before he was brought down in the backfield by Jabrill Peppers and suffered a season ending broken tibia.

As the 2017 season looms Lewerke is the clear front-runner to start at quarterback and after a very impressive spring game. Expectations have certainly been raised for the redshirt sophomore

LJ SCOTT

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Penn State
Nov 26, 2016; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan State Spartans running back LJ Scott (3) runs with the ball as Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Torrence Brown (19) defends during the fourth quarter at Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions won 45-12. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most electric players in the Big Ten, LJ Scott has been highly praised before the 2017 season has begun. Being named to the Maxwell Award watch list, The Doak Walker Award watch list and has been named as one of the top 30 players in the Big Ten per CollegeFootballNews.com.

In his 26 career games at MSU, Scott has rushed for 1,693 yards and 17 touchdowns on just 330 carries. Look for Scott to improve on those numbers and then some. With an offense full of question marks, Scott will have to be the glue that holds it all together and powers the Spartans in the right direction.

CHRIS FREY

Chris Frey quietly had a fantastic 2016 season, leading the team with a career-high 96 tackles. Starting at the SAM linebacker position, Frey was a bright spot in a disappointing front seven for the Spartans last season.

Now returning for his senior year, Frey will need to build on the numbers he put up last season to help improve the depleted Spartans defense. Everyone on the practice field knows that Frey is one of the leaders and he won’t hesitate to do what it takes to put his team back on top. Here’s what Frey had to say on his senior year;

Seniors have to have their best year. Last year seniors didn’t really have their best year, and being friends with some of those guys, you know how hard it is. Being a senior, I don’t want to go out like that. I want to go out on top.

These three guys will look to lead a fresh new group of what is largely underclassmen in a bounce-back season, while Dantonio looks to reestablish his dominance in the Big Ten and bring his Spartans back to the top.