While gathering the info I needed to create the list of top 10 Michigan State Football players from this century, I came across a common problem: who makes the cut? Who was really worthy of this list? And while you think it would be easy to decide who stays and who goes, it really isn’t.

So I am putting the onus on YOU the reader. What you’ll see below are the blind career stats of players from 2000 until now, and you get to decide who takes the spot in the top ten. Enjoy!

[NOTE: Remember that player stats provided begin with the 2000 season of MSU Football. Years prior are not accounted for in this exercise.]

1. QUARTERBACKS

A B
GAMES 45 43
YARDS 9,131 9,194
TOUCHDOWNS 66 71
INTERCEPTIONS 30 22
PASSER RATING 146.1 139.8


Additional Notes

  • Player A finished his MSU career as the program’s all-time leader in touchdown passes, yards, completions, passer efficiency and total offense. He compiled a 22-5 record over his final two seasons as a starter.
  • Player B finished his MSU career as the program’s all-time leader in touchdown passes, yards and total offense. He was the recipient of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Big Ten Quarterback of the Year honor. Player B also finished 9th in Heisman voting as a senior.
  • Both Player A and B were the team’s starting quarterback in the latter three years of their collegiate career.

2. RUNNING BACKS

A B C D
CAREER GAMES 27 45 40 50
CAREER YARDS 2,773 4,398 3,346 2,967
CAREER TDs 19 34 33 40


Additional Notes

  • Player C finished MSU career ranking 6th in rushing touchdowns, 6th in attempts, 7th in yards, 8th in 100+ yard games and 9th in all-purpose yards in program history.
  • Player D owns the school and FBS record for consecutive 100+ rushing yard games (16) against conference opponents. He finished his MSU career ranked 2nd in TDs and 8th in yards in program history.

3. WIDE RECEIVERS

A B C D E
GAMES 51 52 43 24 46
RECEPTIONS 218 149 148 135 165
YARDS 3,086 2,247 1,755 2,821 2,174
TOUCHDOWNS 25 15 9 27 10


Additional Notes

  • Player A ranks 1st all-time in both receptions and touchdowns in program history; 2nd in touchdown receptions. His 10 career 100+ yard receiving games also ranks 10th MSU history. He also ranks 7th in receptions and 9th in receiving yards in Big Ten history.
  • Player B ranks 2nd all-time in program history in receptions. More than half of his career receiving yards and 11 of his 15 touchdowns came during his senior year. He was named Big Ten WR of the Year and named first-team All-Big Ten as a senior.
  • Player C ranks 4th all-time in program history in receptions and holds the school record for most receptions in a single game (14).
  • Player D holds the single-season record for receiving yards and receiving touchdowns and set the record for receptions in a single season when he finished his career. During his junior season, he was both the Biletnikoff Award and Warfield Trophy winner for best receiver in the country, and was a unanimous first-team All-American.
  • Player E ranks 2nd in career receptions and 7th in career yards in program history. He also holds the school single-season record for most receptions (85).

4. OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

A B
GAMES (STARTS) 39 (38) 48 (47)
KNOCKDOWNS 235+ 280+


Additional Notes

  • Player A was named first-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten in his final year as a junior. He became the first Michigan State offensive lineman to be drafted in the first round since 1989 (Tony Mandarich).
  • Player B is only the fifth Michigan State OL to be named 2-time first-team All-Big Ten, and the third Michigan State OL to be named 2-time first-team All-American. His 47 starts are second-most by a lineman in school history. Player B is also one of 22 Spartans to be a 4-time Academic All-Big Ten.

5. DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

A B C D
GAMES 36 54 31 37
TACKLES 90 131 142 107
TCKLS FOR LOSS 24.5 44 30 27.5
SACKS 7.5 27 10 12
FORCED FUMBLES 2 4 2 6

Additional Notes

  • Player A was named first-team All-Big Ten as well as second-team All-American in his final season at MSU.
  • Player B finished his career 1st in tackles-for-loss yardage, 2nd in sacks, 2nd in sack yardage and 4th in tackles for loss. He is one of only three Spartans with three defensive touchdowns. He was a 3-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, 2-time second-team All-American selection was was named Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year as a sophomore.
  • Player D was a 3-year starter who left early for the NFL, named a consensus first-team All-American in his final season as a junior, marking the first time in 40 years (at the time) that MSU had a DL earn such honors. He also earned first-team All-Big Ten honors that season as well.

6. LINEBACKERS

A B C
GAMES 54 53 52
TACKLES 278 299 465
TCKLS FOR LOSS 46 31 46.5
SACKS 19.5 8 16.5
FORCED FUMBLES  2  4 5


Additional Notes

  • Player A finished his career 3rd in program history in tackles for loss and 6th in sacks. He was voted to the All-Big Ten team three times and was named an All-American by both Sports Illustrated (second-team) and the Associated Press (third-team).
  • Player B was a 2-time All-Big Ten first-team selection and a 2-time captain at MSU. He finished his career 11th in tackles for loss and 18th in tackles. He was also a 2-time Academic All-American.
  • Player C was the first Spartan since Bubba Smith and George Webster in 1965-66 to earn back-to-back first-team All-American honors. He’s the seventh Spartan ever to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors three times, while leading the team in tackles every single year.

7. DEFENSIVE BACKS

A B C D
E
GAMES 34 42 43 51 52
TACKLES 155 191 165 157 233
INTERCEPTIONS 7 6 10 11 12
FORCED FUMBLES 2 5 3 1 2
PASS BREAKUPS 8 19 20 24 33
TOUCHDOWNS 1 0 1 2 1


Additional Notes

  • Player C was the Jim Thorpe Award recepient (nation’s top defensive back), Big Ten Defensive POY, first-team All-Big Ten and a unanimous first-team All-American as a senior.
  • Player D finished his MSU career ranking 4th in interception return yards, 5th in passes defended, 10th in interceptions and 11th in pass breakups in program history.
  • Player E finished his career at Michigan State ranking T-7th in interceptions, 11th in passes defended, and 12th in interception return yards.

UP NEXT: Identities are revealed!

8. PLAYER IDENTITIES

  • QUARTERBACK
    • A: Kirk Cousins (2008-11)
    • B: Connor Cook (2012-15)
  • RUNNING BACK
    • A: T.J. Duckett (1999-2001; ’99 stats not considered for exercise)
    • B: Javon Ringer (2005-08)
    • C: Le’Veon Bell (2010-12)
    • D: Jeremy Langford (2011-14)
  • WIDE RECEIVER
    • A: B.J. Cunningham (2008-11)
    • B: Tony Lippett (2011-14)
    • C: Matt Trannon (2003-06)
    • D: Charles Rogers (2001-02)
    • E: Aaron Burbridge (2012-15)
  • OFFENSIVE LINEMAN
    • A: Jack Conklin (2013-15)
    • B: Jack Allen (2012-15)
  • DEFENSIVE LINEMAN
    • A: Malik McDowell (2014-16)
    • B: Shilique Calhoun (2012-15)
    • C: William Gholston (2010-12)
    • D: Jerel Worthy (2009-11)
  • LINEBACKER
    • A: Denicos Allen (2010-13)
    • B: Max Bullough (2010-13)
    • C: Greg Jones (2007-10)
  • DEFENSIVE BACK
    • A: SirDarean Adams (2004-07)
    • B: Chris L. Rucker (2007-10)
    • C: Darqueze Dennard (2010-13)
    • D: Johnny Adams (2008, ’10-12)
    • E: Kurtis Drummond (2011-14)