Michigan State Football: 5 position battles to watch this fall

4 of 7

Nov 22, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Joel Heath (92) prepares for the snap of the ball during the1st quarter of a game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

4. Defensive Line

This is another position group that has four solidified starters, but the backups will be a strong area to watch this season.

Must Read: MSU Football: Top 5 under the radar players for 2015

Malik McDowell and Joel Heath join a talented defensive line group that also includes ends Shilique Calhoun and Lawrence Thomas — three of the four are slotted to graduate following the season. It’s hard to think about this top-tier defensive line group breaking up next year, but the backups could be just as good.

Behind Calhoun is talented redshirt freshman Montez Sweat who many think will have an unbelievable Spartan career. It will be interest to see what he will do when inserted into the rotation for his first collegiate snaps this year.

Backing up Heath, you have Gerald Owens — a former fullback — and Damon Knox. The latter is a senior while Owens could potentially take over as starter next year. The former offensive player has his work cut out for him.

McDowell’s spot is as solid as any player on the team. However, Enoch Smith Jr. and Craig Evans — both redshirt freshmen — could both get some solid reps in this season and compete with Owens next year for a starting defensive tackle position.

Lastly, Thomas’ backups happen to be Demetrius Cooper and Evan Jones. Next year’s solid young group of recruits will bring in two more defense ends that could also compete for this position.

Right now, though, we have the opportunity to watch a battle between about seven players for three starting spots next year. The defensive line rotation just keeps getting stronger.

Next: 3. Wide Receiver