No. 133: Max Bullough, No. 40, Michigan State, Linebacker
When you think of "Big Ten linebacker," a guy like Max Bullough comes to mind. He's a big kid at 6'3", 240, who loves to stick his nose in the hole and gets tackles in bunches. Last year, he was one of the major cogs on a Michigan State defense that served as one of the nation's best. This kid is everything that you're looking for out of a linebacker in the Big Ten, and he seems poised to lead another solid Michigan State defense in 2012.
Size is the first big thing that Bullough brings to the table. Unlike some of the other big-time linebackers around the country, Bullough is not a hybrid player, he's a true linebacker within the interior of the defense. His presence is intimidating and he helps reroute action to his teammates like Denicos Allen and William Gholston.
Bullough is also a heady player who finds his way to the football—even in Pat Narduzzi's chaos-inducing scheme—through reading his keys and letting the action take him to the football. He has a true feel for the game and always finds a way to get to the ball.
Much like Chris Borland of the Badgers, Bullough's big struggle comes on the side-to-side action. He's great downhill, but he lacks the lateral quickness to be a true impact player all over the field. Once he gets outside of the box and into space, he has trouble tracking down speedy running backs and moving into coverage. Those are issues that must be addressed for him to be a true success at the next level.
Yes, the Spartans lose Jerel Worthy which means Bullough is going to be facing more traffic in the middle. However, as he enters his second year as a starter, look for even more improvement from Max Bullough. He has capable players in Gholston and Allen around him, and as those talents hold down the edge, they will allow Bullough to do what he does best: man the middle.
Bullough will push the 100-tackle mark for the Spartans this year, and with Lavonte David leaving Nebraska, there is space for Bullough to join Borland and Penn State's Gerald Hodges on the First-Team All-Big Ten unit.