Despite losing so many accomplished stalwarts, the D-line shouldn’t have as much drop-off as other defensive positions that had considerable turnover. Jones and Slade are expected to slide in as starters after backing up Williams and Panasiuk on the interior last year, and they both look like solid Big Ten first-stringers. Both Jones and Slade logged more than 250 snaps last year, so while they’ll be new starters, the workload won’t be a major adjustment. MSU also feels good about its backups at defensive tackle, roles likely to be assumed by Hunt and Mallory. Hunt has drawn rave reviews during the preseason, and Dantonio would make passing, unprompted references to his talent toward the end of last season. A Belleville High product, Hunt was originally supposed to go to Iowa, but he had some academic setbacks and MSU was able to scoop him up late last summer. He could be a heck of a steal, as an athletic, big-bodied disruptor who played a little running back in high school. As good as Williams and Panasiuk were, they weren’t great pass-rushers. Perhaps Hunt can bring something in that department.

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