MSU’s top 50 football players: No. 3 Darqueze Dennard

This is the 48th in a 50-day summer series counting down the top players in Michigan State football history, as I see them. As with last year’s MSU basketball top 50, the criteria is performance and impact at MSU only, professional career irrelevant. Have your own opinion? Leave a comment or tweet at me @Graham_Couch.

No. 3 – Darqueze Dennard

Cornerback, 2010-13, Dry Branch, Ga.

The skinny: Dennard embodies MSU’s famed “No Fly Zone,” headlining a secondary unlike anything seen before in East Lansing. He is the most complete corner ever to suit up for the Spartans, playing in an era of complex passing games and within a defense that relies heavily on its corners to be able to survive on an island. Dennard is the only MSU player to win the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back. He was also a unanimous All-American as a senior in 2013 and first-team All-Big Ten selection for the second straight year. Like any revered corner, Dennard’s contributions cannot be measured in stats — instead in consistency, big moments and opponents’ fear. When challenged, he delivered. He lived on the hip of his receiver, breaking up a would-be big plays regularly and sometimes appearing as if he were the intended target, with ideal positioning on several of his 10 career interceptions. But he was more than a cover corner at MSU. He was a physical presence on the edge and a sure tackler in space. That’s a rare trifecta. – Read more at LSJ.com

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