Michigan State Football: Top 5 young players who are future stars

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Nov 29, 2014; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive linesmen Malik McDowell (4) during the third quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Michigan State defeated Penn State 34-10. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

It took a long time for Dantonio to feel good about the commitment of five-star defensive end Malik McDowell as the No. 1 recruit in Michigan for the class of 2014 was having difficulties with his mother signing his letter of intent.

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Now that it’s a thing of the past, McDowell has gotten to work and shown flashes of greatness in the Green & White.

It’s really hard to put him on a list like this because I believe he’s already a star and if he’s not considered one, then he’s darn close.

The 6-foot-6, 285-pound behemoth of a defensive lineman transitioned before the start of last season from end to tackle. He is joining a talented group of defensive linemen who have a chance to be the best unit in the country — Shilique Calhoun and Lawrence Thomas.

McDowell will end up being better than both of those guys and he’s already well on his way. The sophomore defensive tackle was named a first-team All-Freshman Big Ten selection by the FWAA, ESPN and BTN.com.

As a true freshman in 2014, McDowell recorded 15 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss while playing in all 13 games.

Watch out for him this season as he could end up earning first-team All-American honors.

Next: 2. Montae Nicholson, S