Four Spartans Audition At 2011 NFL Scouting Combine

Michigan State

 

Mark Dell, Charlie Gantt, Greg Jones and Chris L. Rucker attempt to improve their stock for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Mark Dell, Charlie Gantt, Greg Jones and Chris L. Rucker attempt to improve their stock for the upcoming NFL Draft.

 

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Four Michigan State seniors – wide receiver Mark Dell, tight end CharlieGantt, linebacker Greg Jones and cornerback Chris L. Rucker – have accepted invitations to participate in the National Football League's 2011 Scouting Combine, scheduled for Feb. 23-March 1 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. The NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) is organized and operated by National Football Scouting, Inc. NFL Network and NFL.com will provide more than 30 hours of live coverage from Lucas Oil Stadium, beginning Thursday, Feb. 24.

 

More than 600 NFL personnel, including head coaches, general managers, scouts and medical staff representing all 32 teams, will attend the Scouting Combine and evaluate the nation's top 329 college players eligible for the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft through on-field drills, physical testing, psychological exams, as well as formal and informal interviews.

 

The 6-foot-1, 199-pound Dell set career highs for receptions (51), receiving yards (788) and touchdown catches (9) in 2010. Forty-two of his 51 catches (82 percent) resulted in either a TD or a first down. In Big Ten games, he ranked third in the conference in receiving yards (73.6 per game) and seventh in receptions (4.9 per game).

 

Dell recorded his second 100-yard receiving game of the season and fourth of his career in MSU’s 35-31 victory over Purdue in the home finale. He had eight catches for 108 yards against the Boilermakers, including TD grabs of 24 and 9 yards as well as a two-point conversion from Kirk Cousins.

 

The Farmington Hills, Mich., native led the team with eight receptions for 98 yards at No. 18 Iowa.

 

Dell matched his career best with nine catches for 109 yards and two scores in MSU’s 35-27 win at Northwestern. He scored on TD receptions of 7 and 15 yards against the Wildcats.

 

He caught three passes for 93 yards in MSU’s 34-17 victory at Michigan, including a 41-yard TD strike early in the third quarter.

 

Dell had a team-high six receptions for 91 yards in MSU’s 34-24 victory over No. 11 Wisconsin, including an 8-yard TD grab late in the second quarter. Sixty of his 91 receiving yards came after the catch against the Badgers.

 

He caught six passes for 81 yards in the 2010 season opener against Western Michigan.

 

A four-year letterman, Dell started 27 of 47 career games. He finished his career ranked among MSU’s all-time leaders in receiving yards (sixth at 2,136), receptions (tied for seventh at 133) and TD catches (tied for 13th with 12).

 

“This should be an exciting week for Mark Dell,” MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. “Mark enjoyed a banner senior year and really showcased his playmaking ability. He made a lot of clutch plays during our run to the Big Ten Conference Championship.

 

“There aren’t many true freshmen that come in and start their first college game, but Mark did just that. He had a productive four-year career and that speaks volumes when competing in the Big Ten.”

 

Gantt, a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media in 2010, ranked fourth on the team in receptions with a career high 24 for 301 yards (12.5 avg.) and three touchdowns. The 6-5, 255-pound tight end matched his career high with four receptions each at Penn State (38 yards) and Iowa (35). His 3-yard TD grab from wide receiver Keith Nichol with 8:31 left in the fourth quarter proved to be the game winner against the Nittany Lions as MSU claimed its first Big Ten Championship since 1990. He had three catches each at Northwestern (20) and against Wisconsin (41), including a 1-yard TD grab from Kirk Cousins that gave MSU a 27-17 lead late in the third quarter. His 29-yard TD reception from holder Aaron Bates, off a fake field-goal attempt, gave MSU a 34-31 overtime victory over Notre Dame.

 

A three-year starter from Farmington Hills, Mich., Gantt had 65 career receptions for 951 yards (14.6 avg.) and nine TDs. His career totals rank among the best ever produced by a Spartan tight end (tied for third in TD receptions; sixth in both receptions and receiving yards). He played in 43 career games, including 39 consecutive starts at tight end.

 

“Charlie Gantt is an outstanding all-around player,” Dantonio said. “He squats 500-plus pounds, so he possesses great physical strength. Charlie runs effectively for a guy his size, and he’s displayed the ability to make plays down the field. He has good hands and runs strong routes. His versatility will pay off at the next level because he can play a variety of positions.”

 

The 6-1, 240-pound Jones became the first Spartan to earn consensus All-America honors in back-to-back seasons since defensive end Charles “Bubba” Smith and roverback George Webster in 1965-66. He also became Michigan State's ninth unanimous All-America selection and the first since wide receiver Charles Rogers in 2002.

 

Jones earned First-Team All-America honors from The Associated Press, Sporting News, Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Walter Camp Football Foundation, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), SI.com, CBSSports.com, Scout.com and Phil Steele. He was the only repeat selection from last year's AP All-America First Team. Jones became only the second Spartan player ever to earn AP First-Team All-America honors in back-to-back seasons, joining Webster (1965-66). He also became MSU's seventh three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection and the first since punter Brandon Fields (2003, 2004 and 2006).

 

 

 

Jones led the Spartans in tackles (106), tackles for loss (10 for 20 yards), forced fumbles (3), quarterback hurries (6) and production points (219). He became the first Spartan to reach the 100-tackle milestone in three straight seasons since Percy Snow (1987-89). Jones also ranked among the Big Ten leaders in forced fumbles (tied for second) and tackles (seventh at 8.2 per game). He anchored a Spartan defensive unit that ranked fifth in the Big Ten and No. 37 in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing defense, allowing 133.7 yards per game.

 

“The pro scouts often become enamored with a prospect’s measurable,” Dantonio said, “but there’s no doubt in my mind that Greg Jones will have a long, productive career in the National Football League. He’ll play immediately on special teams. Greg is a very instinctive player, who finds a way to get to the football. He reacts well to sudden changes in direction, and he’s added weight to strengthen his durability.

 

“Greg closed out his collegiate career as one of the most accomplished defensive players in Spartan history and that speaks volumes. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for him because he believed in this football program and returned for his senior year to win a Big Ten Championship, and he delivered on that promise.”

 

A model of consistency, Jones led the team in tackles in 31 of the last 39 games and became only the second player in MSU history to lead the Spartans in tackles for four-straight seasons (linebacker Dan Bass, 1976-79).

 

The 2010 team MVP closed out his collegiate career with a team-high eight tackles, including two for losses (2 yards), against No. 15 Alabama in the 2011 Capital One Bowl.

 

In MSU's 35-31 come-from-behind victory over Purdue, Jones registered eight tackles, a pass break-up and pressured Rob Henry into throwing an interception on a fourth-and-8 play from the Spartan 20-yard line with less than a minute remaining.

 

In MSU's 31-8 win over Minnesota, he recorded nine tackles, including 2.5 for losses (3 yards), as the Spartans limited the Golden Gophers to 267 total yards. The second-year captain also made nine stops each in back-to-back road games against Northwestern and Iowa.

 

Jones, who posted a season-high 14 stops in a 26-6 Homecoming victory over Illinois, was named National Defensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation as well as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. He recorded double-figure tackles for the second time this season and for the 20th time his career. Jones also was credited with a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry. Michigan State limited the Illini to 114 rushing yards - 103 yards below its season average. Trailing 6-3 at halftime, the Spartan defense shut out the Illini in the second half while forcing three turnovers (four takeaways in the game). It marked the first time since a 31-3 win over Indiana on Oct. 4, 2003, that MSU didn't allow a touchdown in a Big Ten game.

 

Jones posted five tackles in MSU's 34-17 victory at No. 18 Michigan, as the Spartan defense held the Wolverines to a season-low 162 rushing yards.

 

He recorded eight tackles, including a season-best three for losses, in No. 24 MSU's 34-24 victory over No. 11 Wisconsin. The Spartan defense held Wisconsin to 165 rushing yards - nearly 93 yards below its season average. The Badgers entered the game ranked second in the Big Ten and No. 10 in the NCAA FBS in rushing, averaging 257.5 yards per game.

 

Jones, who recorded two interceptions, four tackles and forced a fumble in MSU's 45-7 victory over Northern Colorado, was named Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week. Jones recorded the first two interceptions of his career against the Bears, with both leading to MSU scores. His 34-yard return in the first quarter set up Edwin Baker's 5-yard TD run, while his second-quarter pick set up Le'Veon Bell's second TD run.

 

He tallied nine tackles in MSU's 34-31 overtime victory over Notre Dame, including a 6-yard sack. Jones recorded 11 tackles and forced a fumble in MSU's 30-17 victory over Florida Atlantic at Ford Field.

 

The Cincinnati, Ohio, native started 46 of 52 career games, including 40 consecutive starting assignments (tied for team high with linebacker Eric Gordon). He made 465 career tackles, including 46.5 for losses (160 yards) and 16.5 sacks (93 yards). Jones ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in tackles for loss (second), total tackles (third) and sacks (sixth).

 

Rucker, a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the league’s head coaches, ranked third on the team in pass break-ups (7) and fifth in tackles with a career-best 64, including 3.5 for losses (20 yards). He recorded five tackles, a career-high three pass break-ups and forced a fumble at Penn State. The 6-2, 200-pound Rucker made seven stops against Purdue and his fourth-quarter interception sparked MSU's comeback, as the Spartans rallied from a 15-point deficit for a 35-31 victory. He produced seven tackles each against Minnesota, Wisconsin and Western Michigan. Rucker also came up with a fourth-quarter interception at Michigan. He posted a career-best 12 tackles, including one for a loss, two pass break-ups and forced a fumble against Notre Dame.

 

The Warren, Ohio, native started 34 of 42 career games. His career totals include 191 tackles, six interceptions and 19 pass break-ups.

 

“Chris L. Rucker has a lot of skills to showcase in these workouts,” Dantonio said. “In addition to being an excellent tackler, he has the size and ball skills to play a variety of positions in the secondary. Chris L. will run well at the Combine – something in the 4.4 range.

 

“He started a ton of games over his four-year career, so he’s been battle tested at the highest level. That experience should lend itself to providing Chris L. with an opportunity to play in the pros.”

 

The 2011 NFL Draft will be conducted April 28-30 (Thursday, April 28 – first round; Friday, April 29 – second and third rounds; and Saturday, April 30 – fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds) at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and televised by ESPN and NFL Network.

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