REPORT: Michigan State LB One of Highest-Graded Returning LBs in the Big Ten

Michigan State linebacker Wayne Matthews III is one of Pro Football Focus' highest-graded returning Big Ten linebackers.
Sep 2, 2022; Norfolk, Virginia, USA;  Old Dominion Monarchs linebacker Wayne Matthews III (15) celebrates as the Old Dominion Monarchs beat the Virginia Tech Hokies at Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 2, 2022; Norfolk, Virginia, USA; Old Dominion Monarchs linebacker Wayne Matthews III (15) celebrates as the Old Dominion Monarchs beat the Virginia Tech Hokies at Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports / Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
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Michigan State football has one of the best group of 2024 transfers in the Big Ten.

The program's best transfers joined earlier in the offseason, shortly after Jonathan Smith was brought on as the team's new head coach.

One of those transfers was Wayne Matthews III, a linebacker who transferred to Michigan State in January after spending the last three seasons at Old Dominion.

Matthews is already receiving high praise as a Big Ten linebacker, as Pro Football Focus has him as the sixth highest-graded returning linebacker in the conference with an overall grade of 81.1. He trails only Iowa's Nick Jackson (81.4), UCLA's Joseph Vaughn (82.9), Penn State's Kobe King (83.4) and Dominic Deluca (87.1) and Iowa's Jay Higgins (89.4).

Matthews comes off a 2023 campaign in which he posted 135 tackles, 9.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks, three passes defensed and three forced fumbles.

Back in April, the transfer linebacker discussed his first impressions of Michigan State.

"Well first off, it's a huge campus," he said. "Coming from a school that doesn't really have a large campus, there's a lot more people here. Just the people around us [are] great people; the coaches are great, my teammates are great, they welcomed me with open arms. It was good scenes."

Matthews was one of the top defensive players in the Sun Belt, and one the Spartans felt they needed to have on their roster.

"I'm an all-around linebacker -- pass coverage, I can play in the box, I can do everything, I can play multiple positions," Matthews said. "So, that's pretty much what they told me."

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Aidan Champion

AIDAN CHAMPION