CHICAGO — Max Bullough holds himself to the highest standards.
And the senior linebacker’s expectations for his final season in East Lansing are focused on being the best he possibly can while helping Michigan State reach the Rose Bowl.
“I want to have the best year that I can,” Bullough said. “I want to be an All-American, Academic All-American andÂ All-Big Ten. Those are my goals. I’m close to them. I just need a couple more games to get there.”
Outsiders also have those high expectations for the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Bullough, who has his name featured on preseason watch lists for many honors following a junior season where he continued to assert himself as the heart and soul of the Spartans’ vaunted defense.
“He’s just a great player,” MSU senior corner Darqueze Dennard said. “He’s got passion, he plays with passion. He knows the defense in and out and by the time we play a team he knows the offense and what checks they’re going to make and puts us all in the right position.”
Bullough believes he made big strides between his sophomore and junior seasons – so much he can’t even watch film of himself from that sophomore year. Now he hopes to make another big step this season for the Spartans.
“I’ve always been a guy that from year to year has gotten a lot better,” said Bullough, who registered a team-high 111 tackles last season. “I’m not a guy that can go each week and improve a lot. I’ve never done that. That’s not the wayÂ I work. It’s been year-to-year. Going from my sophomore year to my junior year was a lot of improvement. A lot of improvement.
“Hopefully going from junior to senior year will be that much. If not that much then a little bit of how much it was between those years.”
More progress for Bullough could make a defense that ranked among the nation’s best a year ago even better. And it could help the Spartans’ dreams become a reality. MSU players know they left a few plays on the field last season.
“I think our defense did an outstanding job last year, but we didnâ€™t come up with as many takeaways,” MSU coach Mark Dantonio said. “Sometimes the ball pops the other way. We didnâ€™t come up with as many sacks, but theyâ€™re getting the ball off quicker because the pressure is there. But youâ€™ve gotta get the sacks. And our two-minute defense has gotta be better. You take those things out of the realm and weâ€™re perfect.”
*** Former MSU basketball player Alan Anderson reached a two-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. Anderson, who went undrafted out of MSU, hasn’t had a smooth NBA journey until catching on with the Toronto Raptors in the 2011-12 season.
His career began with Charlotte in the 2005-06 season as he played in 36 games, made seven starts and averaged 5.8 points. He averaged 5.8 points in 17 games the following season with Charlotte and then didn’t return to the NBA again until the 2011-12 season when he signed a 10-game contract in March 2012 and appeared in 17 games and made 12 starts with the Raptors. Anderson is coming off his best season as a pro, as he averaged a career-best 10.7 points in 65 games.