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Michigan State football: Zion Young announces SEC transfer destination

Zion Young is headed to the SEC.

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Michigan State football
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

On Tuesday, former Michigan State football star Zion Young announced his intentions for next season. He will be heading to the SEC.

Michigan State football lost a crucial player in the transfer portal. Defensive end Zion Young, who had received considerable playing time each of the last two years, announced his next school. He will be moving on from MSU in favor of playing for Missouri. He originally entered the portal on Dec. 4. 

Zion Young was a promising star for the last few Michigan State football teams

Zion Young entered Michigan State as a three-star prospect. Young was highly-overlooked, being rated as the No. 1,385 prospect in the nation and only the No. 165 defensive lineman. In spite of this, Mel Tucker saw something in the prospect. He landed Young’s commitment over schools like West Virginia, Florida, and Missouri. 

Despite being the lowest-rated defensive player in the class, Young saw the field in 2022 early and often for Michigan State. He played in each of the first eight games of the season for the Spartans, recording 21 tackles, including his first career sack. Unfortunately, his first season was cut short after he was involved in the tunnel melee following the Spartan loss to Michigan. 

Young was deemed eligible upon the end of the 2022 season, and returned for spring practice as a popular pick to be a breakout candidate. While this was not his breakout season, Young still put up very solid numbers, doubling his sacks and tackles for loss over his freshman numbers. 

Zion Young excelled at making the fundamentally sound play, always being in the right position. With consistent coaching, Young has the potential to breakout big time. Once again, with the Mel Tucker situation, you once again have to wonder “what if.” When he entered the portal, he was one of the main players I wanted to see return. Young is a player who can play at the next level.

He joins the Missouri Tigers, who shocked the college football world last season. After being projected as the 13th-best team in the SEC, Eliah Drinkwitz’s team went 11-2. They blitzed through the SEC, going 6-2 in conference play. To cap the season off, the Tigers beat the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Cotton Bowl, 14-3. Young will look to replace Darius Robinson and Nyles Gaddy, each of whom declared for the NFL draft.

Roster outlook

Zion Young officially leaving the team leaves another hole in the Spartan line. Young, Jacoby Windmon, and Aaron Brule were three of the top five Spartan defenders this season, and all three have moved on from the program via draft or portal. 

The Spartans returning experience on the defensive line consists of Ken Talley, Jalen Thompson, James Schott, Khris Bogle, and Avery Dunn. On the interior, Thompson, Simeon Barrow Jr., Maverik Hansen, transfer Da’quan Douse, and Alex VanSumeren (who returns from injury) will be back to eat up the majority of the reps.

Additionally, Bai Jobe and Andrew Depaepe, two of the talented freshmen from the 2023 recruiting class, are returning with practice experience following a season where both redshirted and saw little field time. The Spartans also bring in Kekai Burnett, another talented defensive end. When I watched film, I was impressed by Burnett’s high motor and fundamentally sound technique. Finally, the Spartans have used the portal to address the edge position, bringing in Quindarius Dunnigan. Dunnigan was a multi-year player for Middle Tennessee State, being named second team All-C-USA last season and recording 5.5 sacks over the last two seasons. 

This loss certainly hurts the Spartans, and we will be seeing new starters in Joe Rossi’s system next season. I would not be surprised to see the staff address the portal one more time for another edge rusher or two.

Portal outlook

Young joins Hank Pepper (USC), Justin White (Davenport), Noah Kim (Coastal Carolina), Spencer Brown (Oklahoma), Katin Houser (ECU), Sam Leavitt (Arizona State), Evan Morris (UCF), Jordon Simmons (Akron), Keyshawn Blackstock (Arkansas), Christian Fitzpatrick (Marshall), Kevin Wigenton II (Illinois), Tyrell Henry (Wisconsin), Maliq Carr (Houston), and Quavian Carter (Florida A&M) as Spartans to announce their next destination.

Michigan State Media and Information Management Class of '22. Emmett covers primarily football, recruiting, and basketball for Spartan Shadows. He has also written for Spartan Avenue, Basic Blues, and Hail WV.

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