This past season was arguably the most-successful for Michigan State since the mosterously prosperous times of the 1960s. The Spartans just won a school-record 13 games, earned a victory in their first Rose Bowl appearance in 26 years over Stanford, and ended the season ranked No. 3 in the nation, their highest since 1967. Things are certainly on an upswing.
On Tuesday, MLive.com decided to take a poll of its Green and White readers to see just who would be named as the "most missed" player of this fall's upcoming season. Michigan State will return eight of the 11 players who started on offense in the Rose Bowl, but on defense, MSU loses six starters, some of whom have shaped the team into what they are today.
The losses come evenly from each unit within the nation's top defense, with two off of the defensive line, two linebackers, and two in the secondary. The poll simply asked, "Which Michigan State football player will the Spartans miss most?" The answers were a little surprising.
As of Wednesday morning, not surprisingly, the top choice that was chosen was the imminent loss of cornerback Darqueze Dennard, who helped to lead the Spartans' incredibly successful "No Fly Zone" during the 2013 season. Dennard took over 60 percent of the popular vote. Max Bullough, who missed the Rose Bowl due to an unnamed suspension for team rules violations, took second place, but with a shockingly low 15 percent of the vote.
Offensive players didn't fare much better, with guard Blake Treadwell garnering only 3.7 percent of the vote and tackle Fou Fonoti earning less than one percent. Wide receiver Bennie Fowler took less than one percent of the vote, as well.
One offensive player that is certainly looking forward to his team's chances next year is quarterback Connor Cook, who will begin his senior season this fall as the starter. Beginning the year in a leadership role as the unquestioned captain of the team will likely give Cook a little more ground to stand on than he had had at the start of the 2013 season when he was still vying for the top spot under center.
"After this year, obviously, the expectations are sky high,'' Cook said. "I think we'll have to realize that. I think we'll come together as a team and have that talk and stress how important next year is, and from what we were able to do this year, and there's no question, there's no reason why we can't do it next year, as well.''
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.