Michigan State Football: Top 10 players of the Mark Dantonio era

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Nov 2, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans cornerback Darqueze Dennard (31) raises his had before a play during the third quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Spartan Stadium. Spartans beat the Wolverines 29-6. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

You might be wondering why I have the cornerback who was selected No. 24 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft over the one who was selected No. 11 overall in 2015. However, the choice came down to who had a greater impact on the defense as a whole while he was in the Green & White. Easy choice: Darqueze Dennard.

Although Waynes was a lockdown corner just as Dennard was, Darqueze was the leader of the defense when he was there and everyone knew what he was doing at all times. He was physical, quick and a real ball-hawk.

Dennard played in just six games as a freshman and he was basically the recruit that was stumbled upon while the coaching staff was in Georgia scouting wide receiver Keith Mumphery. It’s hard to say there was a better recruit in the Dantonio era who no one was looking at than Darqueze Dennard.

During his sophomore season, the cornerback saw the field much more, starting in all 11 games in which he played and recorded 42 tackles, three interceptions and three pass breakups. Two of those three interceptions came in the Outback Bowl win, tying a Spartan bowl game record.

As a junior, Dennard really broke out, recording 52 tackles, 3.5 for loss, three interceptions and seven pass breakups. His career progression was off to a tremendous start and not many people saw this kind of growth in a short time frame.

Darqueze’s senior year was his best. The talented corner recorded 62 tackles, 3.5 for loss, four interceptions, 10 pass breakups and two forced fumbles. The last statistic proved that his aggressiveness as the cornerback position was hard to match by receivers.

Dennard may go down in history as the best to ever play the position under Coach D.

Next: 6. B.J. Cunningham, WR