Position-by-position breakdown of the Spartans entering preseason camp.
Aaron Burbridge named Most Valuable Player by his teammates.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio likes his team's resilience. Now it's time to develop a knockout punch. Connor Cook threw three touchdown passes and Nick Hill ran for two scores Saturday, but No. 8 Michigan State still needed a late interception return for a touchdown to hold on 45-31 at Purdue
Photos from Michigan State vs. Alabama on December 31, 2015.
CAREER NOTES: Four-year letterwinner started two seasons on the defensive line for the Spartans (2014-15) . . . played in 47 career games and closed his career with 27 consecutive starts . . . started 13 games on the interior of the line as a junior in 2014 and all 14 games in 2015 (13 at defensive end, one at defensive tackle) . . . had 30 starts overall (three at fullback in 2012) . . . had 72 career tackles, including 9.5 for losses (50 yards) and 6.0 sacks (43 yards) . . . began his career at linebacker and moved to defensive end during his red-shirt season in 2011 . . . played fullback in 2012 before returning to the defensive line in 2013 . . . accepted an invitation from the Senior Bowl . . . earned his bachelor's degree in sociology in December 2015.
CAREER IN BOWL GAMES: Had five tackles in four bowl games . . . posted three tackles, including a half tackle for loss (1 yard), and broke up a pass vs. No. 2 Alabama in the 2015 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Cotton Bowl . . . helped limit No. 4 Baylor to minus-20 yards rushing in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic; recorded a 6-yard sack with 11 seconds remaining in the game to help seal the Spartans' 42-41 comeback victory . . . had one tackle vs. No. 5 Stanford in the 2014 Rose Bowl Game . . . after playing fullback during the 2012 season, saw action along the defensive line in the 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against TCU.
2015 SEASON (SENIOR): Started all 14 games (13 at defensive end, one at defensive tackle) . . . ranked seventh on the team with 118 production points during the regular season . . . recorded a career-high 38 tackles, including a career-best five for losses (31 yards) and three sacks (27 yards) . . . ranked third on the team with a career-high six pass break-ups . . . honorable mention All-Big Ten (coaches) . . . named the team’s recipient of the Up Front Award (Outstanding Lineman: Defense) and the Danziger Award (Outstanding Detroit Area Player: Defense) . . . posted three tackles, including a half tackle for loss (1 yard), and broke up a pass vs. No. 2 Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Cotton Bowl . . . recorded two stops, including a 14-yard sack, in the Senior Day victory over Penn State . . . led Spartan defensive line with 14 production points in the win at No. 2 Ohio State; had three tackles, including a half tackle for loss (1 yard), against the Buckeyes . . . named one of three Spartan unsung heroes of the game vs. Maryland . . . had three stops, including a half tackle for loss, and a QB hurry and pass break-up vs. Indiana . . . tallied a career-high seven tackles and broke up a pass in win at No. 12 Michigan; named the fourth game captain against the Wolverines . . . named Spartan Defensive Attack Force Player of the Week vs. Michigan . . . led Spartan defensive linemen with 10 production points at Rutgers; tallied two tackles, including a 6-yard sack . . . compiled 14 production points vs. Purdue . . . started at defensive tackle vs. Central Michigan and had three tackles and seven production points . . . had four tackles, including a half tackle for loss (1 yard), vs. Air Force . . . led Spartan defensive linemen with 19 production points in the win over No. 7 Oregon; recorded six tackles, including a half sack on a key third down with just over a minute remaining . . . was also credited with an assisted tackle on a fourth-and-goal stop in the second quarter as MSU kept UO’s Royce Freeman out of the end zone . . . tipped a pass that led to a Montae Nicholson interception in the first quarter and set up MSU’s first touchdown of the game in the season-opening win at Western Michigan.
2014 SEASON (JUNIOR): Started all 13 games (12 at nose tackle, one at defensive tackle) . . . collected 30 tackles, most among Spartan interior defensive lineman . . . also posted 4.5 tackles for loss (19 yards) and three sacks (16 yards) . . . helped limit No. 4 Baylor to minus-20 yards rushing in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic; recorded a 6-yard sack with 11 seconds remaining in the game to help seal the Spartans' 42-41 comeback victory . . . ranked 11th on the team during the regular season with 65 production points . . . defensive recipient of MSU's Tommy Love Award (most improved player) . . . tied a career best with five tackles, including a 1-yard loss, and also broke up a pass at Penn State . . . recorded four tackles, including a half tackle for loss, at Maryland . . . collected a season-high 14 production points in the win over Michigan; had three tackles and recovered a fumble against the Wolverines . . . tallied five stops and had 10 production points at Indiana . . . recorded three tackles, including a 4-yard sack, and had 11 production points in the win over No. 19 Nebraska . . . posted two stops against Wyoming . . . had two tackles, including a 6-yard sack, at No. 3 Oregon . . . started his first career game at nose tackle in the season opener vs. Jacksonville State.
2013 SEASON (SOPHOMORE): Appeared in seven games to earn his second letter . . . missed the first half of the season with a back injury . . . returned back to the defensive side of the ball after spending the 2012 season at fullback . . . recorded a solo tackle against No. 5 Stanford in the 100th Rose Bowl Game.
2012 SEASON (RED-SHIRT FRESHMAN): Appeared in all 13 games, including three starts at fullback (vs. Indiana, Nebraska and Minnesota), to earn his first letter . . . made the move from linebacker to defensive end in preseason camp . . . moved over to offense as a fullback in Week 2 against Central Michigan . . . also saw time at defensive tackle during bowl practices and played in the 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl vs. TCU along the defensive front . . . had seven receptions for 78 yards (11.1 avg.) . . . also had three tackles on special teams . . . hauled in a 17-yard catch vs. No. 21 Nebraska . . . caught two passes for 26 yards at Wisconsin . . . caught two passes for 18 yards in his first career start at Indiana . . . had a 10-yard reception vs. No. 20 Notre Dame . . . made his first appearance at fullback in the win at Central Michigan; caught a pass for 7 yards against the Chippewas.
2011 SEASON: Redshirted . . . named Scout Team Defensive Co-Player of the Week vs. Iowa.
HIGH SCHOOL AND PERSONAL DATA: Rivals.com, SuperPrep, PrepStar and MaxPreps All-American . . . participated in the 2011 Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Florida . . . ranked among the nation's top prospects by PrepStar (No. 15), MaxPreps (No. 21), Sporting News (No. 26), 247Sports.com (No. 28), SuperPrep (No. 30), Rivals.com (No. 55) and ESPNU 150 (No. 150) . . . selected SuperPrep's Midwest Defensive Player of the Year and rated the region's No. 2 prospect overall . . . listed among the country's top linebackers by SuperPrep (No. 3) and CollegeFootballNews.com (No. 8) . . . ranked among the nation's top inside linebackers by MaxPreps (No. 1), Rivals.com (No. 5) and Scouts, Inc. (No. 8) . . . named high school finalist for the 2010 Butkus Award . . . rated among the country's top defensive ends by 247Sports. com (No. 3 weakside) and Scout.com (No. 7) . . . ranked the state's No. 1 senior by The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, Lansing State Journal, Rivals.com and 247Sports.com . . . three-year starter for Coach Antonio Watts at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan . . . recorded 85 tackles as a senior, with 28 resulting in losses including nine sacks, and forced four fumbles . . . also saw action at tight end, wide receiver and running back in addition to handling the team's punting chores . . . posted 97 tackles as a junior, with 26 for losses including eight sacks, and three interceptions . . . produced a career-best 19 tackles, including seven for losses, and an interception vs. Detroit Cody . . . hit a career-long 76-yard punt vs. Mumford in 2009 . . . high school teammate of former Spartan linebackers Mylan Hicks and Chris Norman . . . son of Kia Thomas and Willis Lawrence . . . born April 16, 1993 . . . nicknamed "L.T." . . . sociology major.
THOMAS' CAREER HIGHS
Tackles: 7, vs. Michigan (10/17/15)
Tackles for loss: 1, eight times (last vs. Penn State, 11/28/15)
Sacks: 1, six times (last vs. Penn State, 11/28/15)
Catches: 2, twice (last vs. Wisconsin, 10/27/12)
Receiving yards: 26, vs. Wisconsin, 10/27/12
THOMAS' CAREER STATISTICS
RECEIVING G Rec Yds TD Lg Rec/G Avg/C Avg/G 2012................ 13 7 78 0 23 0.5 11.1 6.0 2013................ 7 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2014................ 13 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2015................ 14 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 0.0 TOTAL............... 47 7 78 0 23 0.1 11.1 1.7
TACKLES G UA A Total TFL-Yds PD FF FR Blkd 2011................ 0 0 0 0 0.0-0 0 0 0 0 2012................ 13 3 0 3 0.0-0 0 0 0 0 2013................ 7 1 0 1 0.0-0 0 0 0 0 2014................ 13 9 21 30 4.5-19 1 0 1 0 2015................ 14 11 27 38 5.0-31 6 0 0 0 TOTAL............... 47 24 48 72 9.5-50 7 0 1 0
SACKS G UA A Total Yds 2011................ 0 0 0 0.0 0 2012................ 13 0 0 0.0 0 2013................ 7 0 0 0.0 0 2014................ 13 3 0 3.0 16 2015................ 14 2 2 3.0 27 TOTAL............... 47 5 2 6.0 43