Michigan State Football: Next man up at every position

10 of 14

Jan 1, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Michigan State Spartans linebacker T.J. Harrell (31) reacts after the game against the Baylor Bears in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dantonio has praised backup Star linebacker T.J. Harrell, but he’s also stated that the redshirt freshman needs to toughen up in order to earn some P.T. with the team.

Related: MSU Football: 5 bold predictions for the 2015 season

Entering spring ball as the No. 3 linebacker behind senior Darien Harris and Jalyn Powell, Harrell worked hard enough to fight for the backup position, eventually leading to Powell’s transfer from the program.

We have seen it before where guys switch positions to benefit the team and Harrell is the perfect example of that, coming out of high school in Tampa, Fla., as a safety, but moving to linebacker and beefing up in order to possibly snag a larger role.

According to Mike Wilson of 247Sports, Harrell has been turning heads this offseason.

"“He starting to play faster,” Dantonio said. “He’s still learning, but he’s playing faster and you see some good things. He’s got to be more consistent, but you see some things and say, ‘Ooh, that’s pretty good.’”"

Ed Davis also chimed in on the redshirt freshman’s emergence:

"“I am seeing him grow up,” Davis said. “I am seeing him get the defense down pat and really start to use his athleticism to make plays and things he wasn’t doing when he didn’t know the defense. He’s all coming together as a good player.”"

Michigan State seems pretty excited to have found and molded a gem like Harrell at the linebacker position.

Next: Mike linebacker