Bears Preseason Preview: Defensive Line
Letterwinners returning/lost: 9/3
Starters returning/lost: 4/0
• In the Bears' 11 games last fall, the MSU defensive line combined to record 156 tackles, 32.0 stops for losses and 15.0 of the Bears' 17.0 sacks on the year.
• With four veterans back (Colby Isbell
, Cecil Bratton E.J. Sutton
and Tony Jones
) who made five or more starts in 2016, as well as another who made two starts (Skyler Hulse
) last fall, the Bears' defensive line represents one of its strongest and deepest position groups.
• Isbell led the group in tackles for the second straight year, finishing with 33 stops,12.0 TFLs and 6.5 sacks, ranking sixth in the MVFC in each of the latter categories.
• Bratton, who has 27 career starts at defensive tackle, logged 16 total tackles last season.
• Jones will bring a string of 19 consecutive starts into the 2017 season, including nine at left end for defensive line coach Chris Morton
last fall. The senior made 22 tackles and a career-best 2.0 sacks in 2016.
• Sutton drew five starts at defensive tackle last season, totaling 9.0 stops and 2.0 TFLs for a loss of 11 yards, including 1.0 sack.
• Hulse turned in career highs for total tackles (12), TFLs (2.5), sacks (1.0) last year, while also logging a team-best 2.0 fumble recoveries.
• Tristan Crowder
produced a breakthrough rookie campaign last fall, finishing with the second-best tackle total (25) among all MSU defensive linemen in 2016, as well as 2.0 sacks and 2.0 QB hurries.
• Taiwo Oluwafunmila
logged significant playing time on the Bears' defensive line in 2015 before sitting out last year due to injury; returning lettermen Colin Bess
and Chris Cacciarelli
will also push for playing time while providing depth up front for Morton and the MSU defense.
• Several talented newcomers, including redshirt freshmen Eric Johnson
, Claudio Martin
, Darrius Montgomery
and Walter Watson
, as well as true freshman Edd Becton
, will also look to make an impact this fall with the Bears.