Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard: No Fly Zone is a 1st round talent


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Michigan State senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard was named the winner of the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award last night, given to the top DB in all of college football. With that, you’ll see his NFL Draft stock rise even higher. He certainly earned himself some extra future earnings in the Big Ten title game, as she showed tremendous closing speed, as well as a great tenacity to get an early break on the ball.

Darqueze Dennard also has tremendous ball skills and a nose for the ball developing into the best player on the top defense in college football. And possibly the best individual player on the Michigan State Spartans team. The man nicknamed the Human No Fly Zone, Darqueze Dennard, who leads the 12-1 Spartans in passes defended (14), pass break-ups (10) and interceptions (4).

2013 Jim Thorpe Award winner Darqueze Dennard

I have Darqueze Dennard as a late first round pick, but I think I’ll have to move him up to the mid first round. He was behind Ohio State CB Bradley Roby. However, Roby has health issues, major off-the-field issues and he got lit up by Wisconsin Badgers WR Jared Abbrederis, among others.

Michigan State opponents went 3-31 on throws of 15+ yards to receivers covered by Dennard. He’s a true “no fly zone.”

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MSU Coach Mark Dantonio on Darqueze Dennard:

“He’s an extremely competitive young man. But just a worker. He’s a guy that wasn’t a highly recruited guy, but extremely quick, and he’s got great presence on the football field, great ball skills, great presence, and he brings that to the table, and he brings his confidence to the table,”

“He’s electric out there for us, and obviously there’s a domino effect. If you’re not very good on the edges, then it’s going to fall, and you’ve got to take care of the edges another way. There’s a domino effect. We’ve put a lot of responsibility on he and our other corner, Trae Waynes, and they’ve lived up to their billing.”

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Darqueze Dennard ranks fourth on the team in tackles (59) and fifth in production points (189). Dennard has been credited with 2.5 tackles for losses (6 yards) and ranks among the Big Ten leaders in interceptions (tied for third) and passes defended (tied for seventh at 1.08 per game).

He recorded three tackles, two pass break-ups and forced a fumble in Michigan State’s 34-24 win over No. 2 Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Spartans limited the Buckeyes to 25 total yards in the fourth quarter, including zero passing yards, as MSU rallied from a 24-20 deficit to claim a BCS berth in the Rose Bowl.

“It’s the most excited I done been since I can remember,” Darqueze Dennard said in the end zone of Lucas Oil Field, where I had an exclusive with him; after they had just clinched the Rose Bowl trip.   Two years ago, Michigan State college football had a slogan “P4RB Prepare for Rose Bowl.”

“This year we said “chase it,” and this is what we were chasing and now we caught up to it, and we gotta keep rolling, it’s a great feeling,” Darqueze Dennard said.

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I asked Darqueze Dennard how much losing the 2011 Big Ten title game in a controversial nail-biter and how it prepared them for the 2013 #B1GChamp.

“We just knew we had to play to the end. Last time we were here we lost in a heart-breaker, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We knew the atmosphere, so guys weren’t big eyed and star struck, it’s just another game for us to showcase our talents.”

Darqueze Dennard is everybody’s All-American, and was named the #3 overall player in college football by CBS.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and RSS  Catch him Tuesdays talking Illini and Northwestern for KOZN 1620 The Zone, Fridays talking Chicago Bears for WAOR 95.7 The Fan

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