Nov. 24, 2008
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Three Michigan State players have been named first-team All-Big Ten by the league's head coaches: senior running back Javon Ringer, senior safety Otis Wiley and sophomore linebacker Greg Jones. The three first-team all-conference selections mark the most for the Spartans since five players received first-team honors in 1999. A total of 15 Spartans received All-Big Ten recognition on the first team, second team or honorable mention.
The 5-foot-9, 202-pound Ringer leads the NCAA in rushing touchdowns (21) while ranking second in scoring (10.5 points per game), third in rushing (132.5 yards per game) and 10th in all-purpose yards (164.5 ypg.). He leads the Big Ten in scoring and all-purpose yards and ranks second in rushing. His 1,590 yards rank as the second-highest single-season rushing total in school history. Ringer became the first Spartan to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons since T.J. Duckett in 2000-01.
Ringer has accounted for 96 percent of Michigan State's rushing yards (1,590 of 1,661) and 78 percent of its rushing attempts (370 of 477) in 2008. He has recorded seven 100-yard rushing games this season: Eastern Michigan (34 carries for 135 yards), Florida Atlantic (43 for 282), Notre Dame (39 for 201), Indiana (44 for 198), Northwestern (35 for 124), Michigan (37 for 194) and Purdue (32 for 121). Ringer became first offensive player in Big Ten history to earn Player of the Week honors for three consecutive weeks (vs. Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic and Notre Dame).
With his 1-yard TD run in the second quarter in the regular-season finale at Penn State, Ringer tied Jehuu Caulcrick's school single-season records for rushing TDs (21) and points scored (126). He has eight multi-TD games in 2008, including a career-best five scores vs. Eastern Michigan. His five rushing TDs represent the second-best single-game total in Spartan history, just one short of the school record held by Blake Ezor (6 rushing TDs vs. Northwestern, 1989).
His 370 carries also lead the nation - 92 more attempts than the second running back on the list. He has recorded four of the six highest single-game carry totals in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision this season (44 vs. Indiana, 43 vs. Florida Atlantic, 39 vs. Notre Dame and 37 vs. Michigan).
Ringer ranks first on MSU's all-time list in all-purpose yards (5,349), second in rushing yards (4,351) and fifth in rushing TDs (33). He also ranks among the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision active career leaders in carries (first with 823), all-purpose yards (first), rushing yards (second) and rushing TDs (11th). The Dayton, Ohio, native has 19 career 100-yard rushing games and 11 career multi-TD games.
"Javon Ringer has been the heart and soul of our football team this season," MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. "Javon is a complete football player. He's a great blocker in pass protection; he catches the ball well out of the backfield; and he can be equally productive running the ball inside and outside. In addition, Javon has a tremendous work ethic, and he's an unbelievable competitor."
The 6-2, 210-pound Wiley ranks second in the Big Ten (tied with Ohio State's Kurt Coleman) and 30th (tied) in the NCAA in interceptions (4; 0.36 per game). He ranks eighth in the Big Ten in passes defended (1.0 per game; 11 total with 7 pass break-ups and 4 interceptions) and fourth in punt returns, averaging 10.2 yards. The Flint, Mich., native ranks third on the team in tackles (71) and fifth in production points (114).
Wiley made eight tackles each in back-to-back games against Purdue (4 solos, 4 assists) and Penn State (6-2). He registered seven tackles in MSU's 25-24 come-from-behind victory over Wisconsin, including six solo stops. Wiley produced a season-high 10 tackles, including 1.5 for losses, against No. 12 Ohio State. He recorded seven tackles (4-3), forced a fumble and broke up a pass in MSU's 16-13 victory over Iowa. Wiley intercepted two passes and recorded five tackles in MSU's 23-7 victory over Notre Dame. He posted five tackles and matched his career high with four pass break-ups in the Spartans' 17-0 victory over Florida Atlantic.
Wiley amassed 113 punt return yards on five returns (22.6 avg.) against Eastern Michigan, tying for the fourth-best single-game performance in Spartan history. His 78-yard scamper to open the fourth quarter was the 10th-longest in school history. He also contributed four stops and a pass break-up against the Eagles.
Wiley recorded six tackles, two interceptions - returning one 31 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter - and a pass break-up in MSU's 38-31 loss at California in the 2008 season opener.
"Otis Wiley is a great leader, who has outstanding skills," Dantonio said. "Otis has played nickel back as well as the weakside safety position, and he's demonstrated big-play potential in both roles. He also did an outstanding job returning punts this season. It was his first season as a punt returner, but he really did a solid job in that capacity."
The 6-1, 222-pound Jones leads the Spartans in tackles (115 total), tackles for loss (12.5 for 33 yards) and production points (252). He ranks third in the Big Ten in tackles, averaging 9.6 per game. Jones led the team in tackles in 10 of 12 regular-season games, becoming the first Spartan to record 100 tackles in a season since Eric Smith had 101 in 2005.
In Big Ten play, Jones led the league in tackles, averaging 11.1 per game.
The Cincinnati, Ohio, native produced double-figure tackles for the sixth-straight game, registering a career-best 15 stops (12 solos, 3 assists) in MSU's regular-season finale at Penn State. Jones became the first Spartan to record double-digit tackles in six consecutive games since Thomas Wright accomplished that feat in seven straight games in 2002. He also posted a career-best 3.5 tackles for loss (9 yards) against the Nittany Lions.
Jones, a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media, also recorded double-figure tackles against Northwestern (11), Ohio State (13), Michigan (10), Wisconsin (13) and Purdue (12).
"Greg Jones put together an outstanding sophomore season," Dantonio said. "Greg led the Big Ten in tackles during the regular season, and he played as well as anyone down the stretch, recording double-figure tackles in his last six games. He's an outstanding competitor, who flies to the football. Greg is a very instinctive player, who knows how to get off blocks and find the football. He's made a bunch of big plays this season; some as a blitzer. Greg also has displayed good leadership skills."
In addition, four other Spartans have earned second-team All-Big Ten honors: junior placekicker Brett Swenson (coaches and media), fifth-year senior offensive guard Roland Martin (media), fifth-year senior offensive tackle Jesse Miller (media) and sophomore punter Aaron Bates (media).
The 5-8, 169-pound Swenson ranks among the Big Ten leaders in field goals made (second at 1.67 per game), kick scoring (third at 7.8 points per game), overall scoring (sixth) and field-goal percentage (fifth at .800). He also ranks among the NCAA leaders in field goals made (tied for eighth) and scoring (41st). Swenson ranks second on the team in scoring with 94 points, converting 20-of-25 field-goal attempts and all 34 extra-point tries. His 20 field goals made rank as the fifth-best single-season total in Spartan history.
For the third time in 2008, Swenson was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week after accounting for 13 points in MSU's 25-24 victory over Wisconsin. He became just the sixth player in Big Ten history to earn three or more special teams weekly awards in the same season. Swenson went 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts, hitting the game-winner from 44 yards out with seven seconds left, as the Spartans rallied from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit. His career-long 50-yarder with 5:16 to play pulled MSU to within 24-22. He also connected on field goals from 27 and 21.
After missing his first attempt of the 2008 season in the opener at California, Swenson converted a school-record 15 consecutive field goals, breaking the mark previously held by Paul Edinger, who made 13 in a row in 1998. His 15 straight field goals tied the fourth-longest streak in Big Ten history. Swenson's streak ended when he came up short on a 50-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter at Michigan.
He was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week after scoring 13 points in MSU's 37-20 victory at Northwestern, as the Spartans extended their winning streak to six games. Swenson hit all three field-goal attempts and four extra-point tries. He made field goals from 26, 42 and 34 yards against the Wildcats.
Swenson was selected Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week after accounting for 10 points in MSU's 16-13 victory over Iowa. He was a perfect 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts, hitting from 29, 32 and 25 yards, and converted his only extra-point try. His 25-yarder with 9:32 left in the third quarter gave the Spartans a 16-3 lead and proved to be the game winner.
The Pompano Beach, Fla., native was selected as one of the Lou Groza Award's Top Three Stars of the Week after accounting for a career-high 16 points in MSU's 42-29 victory at Indiana in the Big Ten opener. Swenson kicked a career-best four field goals, including three from 40-plus yards. He converted field goals from 45, career-long 48, 45 and 32 yards. With MSU leading 36-29 after three quarters, Swenson iced the game with a pair of four-quarter field goals (45 and 32). He also converted all four extra-point attempts.
Swenson already ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in field goals (fourth with 50 made), scoring (fourth with 270 career points) and extra points (fifth with 120 made). He also ranks among NCAA FBS active career leaders in field goals made (tied for sixth), extra points made (11th) and scoring (16th). Swenson has made 66 straight extra-point attempts.
The 6-5, 330-pound Martin has 34 career starts at right guard, including the last 13 games in a row. He graded out as a winner in eight of MSU's first 11 games in 2008 and allowed only one sack in nearly 350 pass attempts.
The 6-6, 318-pound Miller has started 37 consecutive games at left tackle. He ranks second on the team in pancake blocks (28 through 11 games). Miller recorded a career-high 7.5 pancakes as the Spartans rushed for a season-best 259 yards against Florida Atlantic.
The 6-0, 188-pound Bates ranks fourth in the Big Ten and No. 26 in the nation in punting with his 42.3-yard average. Eighteen of his 66 punts (27 percent) this season have been downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line. He has had at least one punt downed inside the opponent's 20 in 10 of the 12 games. Bates also has hit 14 punts 50 or more yards.
Over the last six games, Bates has averaged 43.7 yards on 33 punts, including eight 50-yarders and 10 kicks placed inside the opponent's 20.
He averaged 43.4 yards on five punts against Purdue, including a season-long 59-yarder and two kicks downed inside the Boilermaker 20. Bates averaged 45.4 yards on seven punts against Wisconsin. He averaged a career-best 45.7 yards on six punts against Ohio State, including one downed inside the Buckeye 20. Bates averaged 43.8 yards on four punts at Northwestern and pinned the Wildcats inside the 20-yard line three times.
Eight other Spartans have received All-Big Ten honorable mention: junior defensive end Trevor Anderson (coaches and media), sophomore tight end Charlie Gantt (coaches and media), fifth-year senior quarterback Brian Hoyer (coaches and media), fifth-year senior defensive tackle Justin Kershaw (media), senior defensive end Brandon Long (media), junior center Joel Nitchman (media), sophomore cornerback Chris L. Rucker (coaches and media) and junior wide receiver Blair White (coaches and media).
Ringer also was selected as MSU's recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, which is presented to student-athletes who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior.
The 9-3 Spartans are ranked No. 21 in this week's USA TODAY Coaches' Poll and No. 22 in the Associated Press Poll. Michigan State finished third in the Big Ten standings at 6-2 - its highest finish in the league standings since tying for second in 1999 (6-2). It marks the 10th time in program history that the team has won at least nine games in a season and the first time since 1999. It also marks just the third time MSU has won nine games since 1966. The Spartans will be making back-to-back postseason bowl appearances for the first time since 1996-97.