July 28, 2014
CHICAGO - Michigan State junior defensive end Shilique Calhoun has been named to the fourth-annual Big Ten preseason Players to Watch list, as selected by a media panel attending the conference's football media days. The preseason watch list features a total of 10 student-athletes, with five players each selected from the East and West Divisions.
Calhoun is one of five student-athletes who represent the East Division on the Big Ten preseason Players to Watch list, joining Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs, Michigan wide receiver Devin Funchess, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Representing the West Division on the preseason Players to Watch list are Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff, Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon and Wisconsin right tackle Rob Havenstein. Three players on the preseason watch list garnered All-America honors last season (Abdullah, Calhoun and Scherff) while all 10 players earned all-conference honors in 2013, including six first-team selections (Abdullah, Calhoun, Funchess, Gregory, Miller and Scherff).
The 6-foot-4, 257-pound Calhoun has been named to 2014 preseason watch lists for numerous national awards, including the Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year), Lombardi Award (lineman of the year) and Nagurski Trophy (nation's most outstanding defensive player). The dynamic playmaker is one of 17 defensive players featured on the Walter Camp Player of the Year Watch List. In addition, Calhoun has been mentioned on watch lists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, Paul Hornung Award (college football's most versatile player) and College Football Performance Awards Defensive End Trophy. He has been named to four preseason All-America teams: Phil Steele (first team), Lindy's (first team), Athlon Sports (second team) and Sporting News (second team). Calhoun is ranked among college football's Top 25 players for 2014 (No. 17) by Sporting News.
As a sophomore, Calhoun led the Spartans in quarterback hurries (18), QB hits (34) and sacks (7.5 for 45) while earning second-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation, Associated Press, USA TODAY, SI.com and Athlon Sports. The 2013 Smith-Brown Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year ranked second on the defense in tackles for loss (14 for 75 yards) and production points (238). He led the Spartan defensive linemen with 37 tackles (tied with nose tackle Micajah Reynolds). Calhoun, a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media, also ranked second (tied) in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision with four fumble recoveries, which is tied for fifth most in an MSU single-season. He produced a tackle for loss in 10 of his last 13 games while ranking sixth (tied) in the Big Ten in sacks and eighth (tied) in tackles for loss.
Calhoun scored three defensive touchdowns in 2014 to tie for the NCAA FBS lead. His three defensive TDs tied a modern-day Michigan State single-season record (games dating back to 1946), and he became the first Spartan to accomplish the feat in the first two games of the season. Calhoun became the first Spartan defensive player to score three TDs in one season since linebacker T.J. Turner accounted for three in 12 games in 1999 (88-yard interception return at Purdue; 26-yard fumble return at Northwestern; and 24-yard fumble return vs. Florida in 2000 Florida Citrus Bowl).
He was named one of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Award (presented to the nation's top defensive end). In addition, Calhoun was named to CollegeFootballNews.com's All-Sophomore Team (first team). He also was added to the Paul Hornung Award Watch List after Week 3 (nation's most versatile player).
"By no means is Shilique Calhoun a finished product and he knows that," MSU defensive line coach Ron Burton said. "Last season, he proved that he was is one of the top defensive playmakers in the country but that only made him hungrier for more. During the offseason, Shilique took it upon himself to improve in all aspects of his game, but most notably, he wants to emerge as one of our team leaders.
"If you thought last year was special, hold on, because Shilique has the opportunity to prove once again that he is one of premier defensive impact players in the country."
Calhoun totaled four tackles, including half a sack (3 yards), two QB hits and a QB hurry in Michigan State's victory over No. 2 Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.
He produced a career-high seven tackles, including 2.5 for losses (12 yards) and a half sack (1 yard), in MSU's home finale against Minnesota, as the Spartans held the Gophers to a season-low three points.
He recorded career highs tackles for loss (3 for 19 yards) and sacks (2.5 for 17) in MSU's 29-6 win over No. 23 Michigan. He also was credited with six tackles, two QB hurries and a career-best seven QB hits.
The Middletown, New Jersey, native produced three tackles, including 1.5 for losses (8 yards), and forced a fumble in MSU's 42-3 victory at Illinois. Early in the second quarter, he disrupted a reverse in the backfield, tackling Ryan Lankford for a 7-yard loss and forcing a fumble that Marcus Rush recovered at the Illini 23. Four plays later, Jeremy Langford scored on a 1-yard run to give the Spartans the lead for good at 7-3.
Calhoun contributed two tackles, including a 3-yard sack, two QB hurries and three QB hits in MSU's 14-0 win over Purdue. MSU's defense recorded its first shutout since 2011 (44-0 over Florida Atlantic) and its first against a Big Ten opponent since 1999 (34-0 at Northwestern). The Spartans limited Purdue to three first downs, 7 rushing yards (10 carries) and 113 total yards in the second half.
He was credited with three tackles, including a half tackle for loss, four QB hurries and six QB hits in MSU's 26-14 victory at Iowa.
Calhoun collected several weekly honors after scoring two touchdowns and recording two tackles for loss, including a 9-yard sack, in MSU's 21-6 win over South Florida on Sept. 7 at Spartan Stadium. He totaled 43.5 production points against the Bulls.
Calhoun was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week, Chuck Bednarik Award National Defensive Player of the Week, FWAA/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week, CBSSports.com National Defensive Player of the Week and College Football Performance Awards National Defensive Performer of the Week. He also was selected CFPA National Defensive Lineman of the Week and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. In addition, Calhoun was listed on the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll for Week 2.
Calhoun scored two TDs against USF, returning a fumble 4 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and his first career interception 56 yards for another score in the third quarter. He was credited with three solo tackles against the Bulls, with two resulting in losses (12 yards) including a 9-yard sack, and two quarterback hurries. Michigan State's defense allowed 12 first downs, 89 rushing yards (2.5 yards per carry), 66 passing yards and 155 total yards against South Florida.
He returned a fumble 16 yards for a score in the season opener against Western Michigan and was credited with three QB hits.
The complete list of 2014 Big Ten football preseason Players to Watch appears below:
Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Rob Havenstein, RT, Wisconsin