Injuries have freshmen on deck in Michigan State secondary

David Dowell is one of the freshmen who could be called upon soon at MSU.

After a second starting defensive back suffered a long-term injury, several Michigan State freshmen are closer to being called upon for the nation's fourth-ranked team. 

Junior Darian Hicks and senior Arjen Colquhoun are listed as the starters on the depth chart this week with two of the three players behind them being true freshmen. 

The first-year players are Josh Butler and David Dowell, who join junior Jermaine Edmuondson. 

Demetrious Cox was starting at one cornerback spot but has moved to safety to replace R.J. Williamson, a senior who had surgery to repair a torn bicep and isn't expected back until the last game of the season, if then. 

Sophomore Montae Nicholson is the other starter at safety, and all four backups on the depth chart at that position are freshmen: redshirts Jalen Watts-Jackson and Matt Morrissey along with true freshmen Grayson Miller and Khari Willis. 

“Josh Butler has performed very well (in practice),” coach Mark Dantonio said Tuesday. “We've not taken the redshirt off of him yet, but he's probably right there trying to hold it. We'll see what happens. But he's played very well in practice, and I think he's a good player.

“We've played Khari Willis on special teams and then he also played the entire second half, I think, of the Central Michigan game at our nickel back. And he's a very good tackler, good ball skills. He's a quick, explosive type guy. And Grayson Miller is another guy that played this past week (at safety). He's been playing in special teams for probably three weeks.” 

He called both “explosive” and praised their ball skills and tackling ability before saying he was not nervous about having to call upon either in a game if needed. 

“I think we actually have six safeties,” Dantonio said. “Still, we lose RJ and we lose leadership and he's a very good player, but he's had a lot of big plays for us.” 

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