Michigan State vs Western Michigan: 5 players who must step up

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January 1, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Michigan State Spartans cornerback Trae Waynes (15) intercepts a pass against the Stanford Cardinal during the second half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

4. Vayante Copeland, CB

This will be a huge contest for the redshirt freshman cornerback who is taking over for Darian Hicks on the first-string. Hicks is listed as probable for the game as he’s still recovering from mono, but Copeland had won the starting job over the junior and senior Arjen Colquhoun.

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Mark Dantonio has compared the young corner to Darqueze Dennard with the way he carries himself and his physical style of play. While it’s great to hear that stuff from the head coach, it will be even better to see it for ourselves.

Not only is this going to be the biggest game of the young player’s fresh career, but he’s going to have to prove that he belongs with the starters by not allowing big plays.

Copeland has been drawing high praise from teammates all offseason as well and it’s quite an honor to be starting in the vaunted Michigan State secondary so we will see if he takes advantage of this opportunity.

Any of the Spartans’ secondary members could be on this list, and very well might, but Copeland may be under the biggest magnifying glass as the newest starter. Will he live up to the hype and keep his position or will he give way to Hicks or Colquhoun after struggling?

Let’s hope it’s not the latter.

Next: 3. Aaron Burbridge