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

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Oct 25, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans safety RJ Williamson (26) run for yards after intercepting Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner (98)(not pictured) during the 2nd half of a game at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 35-11. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

2. RJ Williamson, SS

Speaking of players who will be expected to step up and take on a leadership role this year, senior safety RJ Williamson has a lot riding on his presence in the Spartans’ secondary.

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Williamson, a second-year starter, will play alongside a very unproven group of cornerbacks and fellow safety Montae Nicholson. It’ll obviously be interesting to see how Nicholson fares in the game since he’s so highly-touted, but Williamson will be expected to give him guidance.

During fall camps and media day, Williamson had talked about what it means to be the leader of the defense. He knows what kind of opportunity he has to step into the role that Kurtis Drummond and Trae Waynes left vacant this year.

The good thing about Williamson taking over as the top dog is that he’s seen what a struggling secondary looks like as well as a successful one.

Last year, the Spartans dropped the nickname ‘No Fly Zone’ because they could no longer live up to it. Williamson knows what mistakes were made last year and he will look to help correct him.

This is just as big a game for the senior as it is for the redshirt freshman Copeland.

Next: 1. Madre London