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6 Wolverines, 4 Spartans named to All-Big Ten defensive teams

With the regular season now in the rear view mirror, the postseason accolades in college football will begin to trickle out. On Tuesday, the Big Ten announced its all-conference defensive standouts, and there was plenty of in-state representation.

In total, six Michigan Wolverines and four Michigan State Spartans received team honors from either the coaches or media on Tuesday.

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

Defensive lineman Maurice Hurst was named first-team by both the coaches and media. The senior totaled 59 tackles through 12 games this season. His 13.5 tackles for a loss were third on the team as well. Hurst sacked opposing quarterbacks five times.

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Defensive linemen Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich, and linebacker Devin Bush all received either first- or second-team honors from coaches and media personnel. Winovich in particular was third for Michigan with 73 tackles and led the team in both TFL (17) and sacks (8). Bush, a Dick Butkus Award finalist, paced the Wolverines with 94 tackles and eight pass break-ups. Gary logged 62 tackles, was of six Wolverines with double-digit TFL and one of five with at least five sacks, and hurried the quarterback more than anyone on the team.

Sophomore Lavert Hill totaled 24 tackles for Michigan this season. Of those 24, five were for a loss of yards, by far the most among players that don’t play in the front seven for the Wolverines. The Detroit Martin Luther King HS product Hill was also one of four players for U-M with multiple interceptions and his seven PBUs were tied for second only to Devin Bush.

Like Hill, Khaleke Hudson picked off opposing quarterbacks twice this season and broke up seven pass attempts. Hudson finished the year with 72 tackles and was one of the more steady performers on defense for Michigan. His “coming out” party was a 13-tackle performance at home against Minnesota back on November 4.

MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

Interestingly for Michigan State, defensive back David Dowell nabbed first-team honors from the media but was a mere honorable mention from the coaches. The redshirt sophomore logged 49 tackles, tied for fifth in the team, and his five interceptions were second in the entire Big Ten. Dowell also added four pass break-ups and one fumble recovery.

Sophomore linebacker Joe Bachie paced the Spartans with 94 tackles, which was good for eighth in the conference. Bachie also added three interceptions, 3.5 sacks, two PBUs and two forced fumbles on the season. How the 2-time Big Ten DPOW ended up with only third-team honors from both the coaches and media is a bit puzzling, but I digress.

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Perhaps nobody had more of a breakout campaign in the Big Ten, let alone for MSU, than defensive end Kenny Willekes. The sophomore and former walk-on exploded for 69 tackles, putting him top-5 for the Spartans, and his 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks not only led the team, but put him near the top of the Big Ten in each category.

True freshman Josiah Scott established himself early and often in his first collegiate season for Michigan State. A Big Ten All-Freshman team honoree, Scott led the Spartans with nine pass break-ups and was one of three MSU players with multiple interceptions.

Additionally, seven Wolverines and seven Spartans earned honorable mentions from coaches and media on either defense or special teams in the Big Ten. The league also announced its 14 honorees from each team for their sportsmanship.

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