Feb. 22, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS - Linebacker Max Bullough was the second Spartan to meet with the media at the NFL Scouting Combine on Saturday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium. Bullough is one of four Spartans, along with cornerback Darqueze Dennard, wide receiver Bennie Fowler and safety Isaiah Lewis, participating in the 2014 NFL Combine.
For Bullough, it was his first time speaking to the media since he was suspended for the Rose Bowl Game against Stanford for violating team rules.
"When I heard the news (about being suspended for the Rose Bowl Game), it was my teammates, it was my coaches, it was Spartan Nation, it was my family that I felt that I let down," said Bullough, a two-time first-team All-Big Ten linebacker who finished his career ranked 18th in Michigan State history with 299 tackles. "I'm a guy, I can handle what happens to me, it was my mistake, I can handle that. But to put the hard work that the coaches and the fans and my teammates, to put that in jeopardy, that's what was tough for me.
"They responded well. The coaches responded well. My teammates were all texting me saying that the game was dedicated to me, they had the 40 on their towels; that meant the world to me. That's what football is all about. At the end of the day, we won the game, we were Big Ten Champions. At the end of the day, the Rose Bowl isn't about Max Bullough, the Rose Bowl is about Michigan State."
Bullough had a chance to work out in front of NFL scouts at the East-West Shrine Game last month in St. Petersburg, Fla., but he's looking to show them more at the NFL Combine.
"I have to show them that I can move," said Bullough. "I'm a big guy, tall guy, (and) I have to show them that I can stay low, bend my knees, explode through my hips and move. That's something that I've worked on a lot and I'm excited to show; I think I'm really going to open some eyes on Monday when I can run."
One person that has seen Bullough produce on the field time and time again is former Spartan Sports Network football analyst Jim Miller, who called MSU games for seven seasons from 2006-12. Miller is at the combine in Indianapolis working as an NFL analyst for Sirius/XM.
"He's a very instinctive player," said Miller regarding Bullough. "He can read and diagnose. He's obviously got great football pedigree with the generations of Bulloughs that have gone through Michigan State, and he knows football extremely well.
"Probably the biggest thing for him down here at the NFL Combine is his 40 time. People want to see how fast he is as a linebacker. If he runs a 4.6 or sub-4.6, that's going help Max Bullough out. That could potentially push him into the second round. Right now, he's probably rated as a third-rounder, but again he's a tough, gritty football player. When he steps on the field to play, he's going to do his job."
NFL Network analyst Charles Davis, who also calls college football games for FOX Sports, had a chance to watch Bullough last season at the Big Ten Championship Game during MSU's victory over Ohio State.
"His numbers went down as the talent level around him continued to rise," Davis said on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium when asked about Bullough. "There were so many other guys who got active and played well for Michigan State that it took some of the pressure off him.
"Again, what happened at the end of the season is a difficult situation. It was one of those things that came out of nowhere for all of us because I don't think anyone would have predicted Max Bullough would be in any kind of trouble. I believe the league has a pretty good handle on what went down and what happened.
"The surprise for me was seeing him at the East-West Shrine Game and it appeared to me he had put on a pretty good amount of weight. And even with that, the coaches were raving about what he did down there: how he handles a huddle; how he handles coverages; all the checks and everything flows through him. The cerebral part of the game is one of the best parts of his game, but don't think he won't strike you too. It will be fun to watch him work out here and see No. 1 is the weight still on him; and if it is; how does he handle it in movement."
Regardless of how he times out during the various tests at the NFL Combine, Bullough feels his career as a middle linebacker at Michigan State has prepared him to play at the next level.
"It's huge," he said. "Making all the calls that I made, the blitzes, the front calls, changing things up, it's been huge. The scouts have really been interested in my ability to change things and call the fronts and call the coverages, or whatever it may be. It's a positive for me, and it's a positive I've gotten it from Coach (Mark) Dantonio, Coach (Pat) Narduzzi and Coach (Mike) Tressel, guys that I respect and guys that I love and have helped me a lot."
Bullough will work out in front of the scouts on Monday.
WHAT'S NEXT: Live coverage of on-field workouts continues with the running backs, quarterbacks and wide receivers on Sunday; the linebackers and defensive linemen will go on Monday, and the defensive backs will work out on Tuesday. Coverage of workouts begins each day at 9 a.m. on the NFL Network and NFL.com. Cornerback Darqueze Dennard and safety Isaiah Lewis will meet with the media on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.