Michigan State Football: 5 most underrated players

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Jan 1, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas (8) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Baylor Bears in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Are you surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be. Despite the widely-believed notion that Ed Davis is the most underrated player on the Spartans’ roster, I have to throw in the name Lawrence Thomas to counter that.

As a senior defensive end, formerly an interior defensive lineman, Thomas has put on some serious muscle throughout his time at Michigan State. He came in as a linebacker and one of the top-rated high school recruits Dantonio has ever received a pledge from and sat buried in the depth chart for a couple years.

Nov 29, 2014; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive linesmen Lawrence Thomas (8) stands on the sideline during the fourth quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Michigan State defeated Penn State 34-10. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

Five years and 60 pounds later, Thomas has become an absolute monster on the line, striking fear into opponents with his body frame.

Transitioning from inside linebacker to defensive end hasn’t been too difficult for Thomas, but it did take a couple of years for him to see the field on a regular basis. There were times where he lined up on the offensive side of the ball to take snaps as a fullback because he was just too talented to keep off the field.

In 2014, Thomas finished his first season as the starter at defensive tackle, recording 30 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Expect those numbers to balloon this year as I wouldn’t be surprised to see him with 50 tackles, or close to it, with 8-to-10 sacks and 10-plus tackles for loss to go along with a few pass deflections at the defensive end position.

No one talks about Thomas and the possibility of an early-round NFL pick, but they will soon.

Next: MSU Recruiting: Top 2017 football targets to watch