Three Spartans Scheduled to Participate in 2017 NFL Scouting Combine
March 1, 2017
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Three Michigan State players — linebacker Riley Bullough, defensive lineman Malik McDowell and safety Montae Nicholson — will participate in the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, scheduled for Feb. 28-March 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) is organized and operated by National Football Scouting, Inc. 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 more than 300 of the nation’s top college players eligible for the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft through on-field drills, physical testing, psychological exams, as well as formal and informal interviews.
Bullough (group nine) and McDowell (group seven) will begin the four-day testing process on Thursday, March 2, while Nicholson (group 11) will start on Friday, March 3. The linebackers and defensive linemen will perform on-field testing on Sunday (March 5); the defensive backs will do their on-field drills on Monday (March 6).
To track official results from the players’ workouts, follow at www.nfl.com/combine. In addition, NFL Network and NFL.com will have live coverage of the combine March 3-6 (Friday-Monday) beginning at 9 a.m. ET each day.
Michigan State has sent 43 participants to the NFL Combine in MSU head coach Mark Dantonio’s tenure. Last season, a record-tying seven Spartans attended the NFL Combine, and all seven made active NFL rosters during the 2016 regular season.
The 2017 NFL Draft will be conducted April 27-29 in Philadelphia.
NFL SCOUTING COMBINE: MSU PARTICIPANTS (43) UNDER COACH DANTONIO — BY YEAR
2008 (4): RB Jehuu Caulcrick, TE Kellen Davis, WR Devin Thomas, S Nehemiah Warrick
2009 (3): QB Brian Hoyer, RB Javon Ringer, S Otis Wiley
2010 (2): PK Brett Swenson, WR Blair White
2011 (4): WR Mark Dell, TE Charlie Gantt, LB Greg Jones, CB Chris L. Rucker
2012 (6): RB Edwin Baker, QB Kirk Cousins, WR B.J. Cunningham, WR Keshawn Martin, S Trenton Robinson, DT Jerel Worthy
2013 (4): CB Johnny Adams, RB Le’Veon Bell, DE William Gholston, TE Dion Sims
2014 (4): LB Max Bullough, CB Darqueze Dennard, WR Bennie Fowler, S Isaiah Lewis
2015 (6): S Kurtis Drummond, LB Taiwan Jones, RB Jeremy Langford, WR Tony Lippett, WR Keith Mumphery, CB Trae Waynes
2016 (7): C Jack Allen, WR Aaron Burbridge, DE Shilique Calhoun, OT Jack Conklin, QB Connor Cook, DT Joel Heath, DL Lawrence Thomas
2017 (3): LB Riley Bullough, DL Malik McDowell, S Montae Nicholson
NFL SCOUTING COMBINE: MSU PARTICIPANTS (43) UNDER COACH DANTONIO — BY POSITION
QB (3): Brian Hoyer (2009), Kirk Cousins (2012), Connor Cook (2016)
RB (5): Jehuu Caulcrick (2008), Javon Ringer (2009), Edwin Baker (2012), Le’Veon Bell (2013), Jeremy Langford (2015)
WR (9): Devin Thomas (2008), Blair White (2010), Mark Dell (2011), B.J. Cunningham (2012), Keshawn Martin (2012), Bennie Fowler (2014), Tony Lippett (2015), Keith Mumphery (2015), Aaron Burbridge (2016)
OL (2): C Jack Allen (2016), OT Jack Conklin (2016)
TE (3): Kellen Davis (2008), Charlie Gantt (2011), Dion Sims (2013)
DL (6): DT Jerel Worthy (2012), DE William Gholston (2013), DE Shilique Calhoun (2016), DT Joel Heath (2016), DL Lawrence Thomas (2016), DL Malik McDowell (2017)
LB (4): Greg Jones (2011), Max Bullough (2014), Taiwan Jones (2015), LB Riley Bullough
DB (10): S Nehemiah Warrick (2008), S Otis Wiley (2009), CB Chris L. Rucker (2011), S Trenton Robinson (2012), CB Johnny Adams (2013), CB Darqueze Dennard (2014), S Isaiah Lewis (2014), S Kurtis Drummond (2015), CB Trae Waynes (2015), S Montae Nicholson (2017)
PK (1): Brett Swenson (2010)
LB Riley Bullough — Traverse City, Mich. (St. Francis High School)
Four-year letterwinner Riley Bullough finished his career with 214 tackles, becoming the fourth member of the Bullough family with 200 tackles (uncle Chuck with 391 from 1988-91; father Shane with 311 from 1983-86; brother Max with 299 from 2010-13). He also had 18 tackles for loss (54 yards), 7.5 sacks (37 yards), four interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles in 50 career games, including 23 starts. He had seven career games with double-digit tackles. As a junior in 2015, Bullough led the Spartans with a career-high 106 tackles.
The 6-2, 227-pound Bullough garnered All-Big Ten honors for the second year in a row in 2016, as he was a second-team pick by the coaches and a third-team selection by the media in 2015. He was named to the third team as a senior.
A team captain in 2016, Bullough finished second on the team in tackles for loss (6.5 for 13 yards) and third in tackles (76) despite missing three games (Wisconsin, Indiana, BYU) due to an injury. His 8.4 tackles per game average led the Spartans and ranked seventh best in the Big Ten. In addition, Bullough’s 64 tackles (9.1 avg.) in conference play ranked sixth in the league.
Bullough, a native of Traverse City, Michigan, tallied double-digits in tackles four times in 2016: season-high 14 vs. Michigan (Oct. 29), 12 vs. Northwestern (Oct. 15), 11 each vs. Ohio State (Nov. 19) and Illinois (Nov. 5). He posted a season-high two tackles for loss (7 yards) at Maryland and had at least one tackle for loss in five of the nine games he played in during the 2016 season. Bullough won a team-best five awards in 2016: Downtown Coaches Club Award (most outstanding senior defensive player), Biggie Munn Award (most inspirational defensive player), Iron Man Award (strength and conditioning), Doug Weaver Oil Can Award (team humorist), and the Captains Award (team captain).
In his first season as the starting middle linebacker for the Spartans in 2015, Bullough led the team and ranked 16th in the Big Ten with a career-high 106 tackles (7.6 avg.) as MSU won the Big Ten title and reached the College Football Playoff. He became the first Spartan to record 100 tackles in a single season since his brother Max had 111 in 2012; it marked the seventh season a member of the Bullough family has led Michigan State in tackles (father Shane in 1985-86; uncle Chuck in 1990-91; brother Max in 2011-12).
A second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and third-team pick by the media, Bullough led the team in the regular season with 226 production points and ranked fourth on the team in sacks (4.0 for 20 yards) and tackles for loss (7.5 for 24 yards). He tied for the team lead with two fumble recoveries and also had two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two pass break-ups.
Bullough was named to the ESPN.com Big Ten All-Bowl Team after leading MSU with 11 tackles in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Cotton Bowl Classic vs. No. 2 Alabama. In the Big Ten Championship Game vs. No. 4 Iowa, Bullough had five tackles, forced a fumble on Iowa’s first possession, and his hit on Hawkeye tight end George Kittle led to an interception in the end zone in the second quarter.
He recorded seven tackles (3 solos, 4 assists) and scored his first career touchdown against Maryland on Nov. 14, returning an interception 44 yards to give Michigan State the lead for good at 14-7 with 2:07 left in the second quarter. It marked Bullough’s fourth career interception and second of the season. Bullough collected seven tackles, including 1.5 for losses (3 yards) and a half sack, in the Spartans’ 27-23 victory over No. 12 Michigan in Week 7 as MSU held the Wolverines to a season-low 230 yards of total offense.
Bullough was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after recording 14 tackles and a pass break-up in the win over No. 7 Oregon on Sept. 12 in Spartan Stadium. The next week against Air Force on Sept. 19, Bullough collected a career-high 16 stops against the Falcons. In the season opener at Western Michigan, Bullough became the first player since Denicos Allen in 2011 to record three sacks in a single game.
MSU’s last four starting middle linebackers have been invited to the NFL Combine (Greg Jones was a four-year starting linebacker who started at MIKE in 2009-10; Max Bullough was a three-year starting middle linebacker from 2011-13; three-year starting linebacker Taiwan Jones started at MIKE in 2014; Riley Bullough started at MIKE in 2015-16).
McDowell, who was the only returning starter on the defensive line for the Spartans last season from the 2015 Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff team, led the unit in 2016 with 34 tackles, including a team-best seven for losses (31 yards), in nine games. He missed the last three games of the season (Rutgers, Ohio State, Penn State) due to an injury he suffered at Illinois on Nov. 5.
The Detroit native was named first-team All-Big Ten by The Associated Press and earned second-team honors from the league’s coaches and media. He was also a second-team All-American as recognized by SI.com and CBSSports.com.
The 6-6, 276-pound McDowell collected 90 tackles, including 24.5 for losses and 7.5 sacks, in 36 career games (23 starts).
A versatile athlete, McDowell started five games in 2016 at nose tackle and three at defensive end. Making his first career start at defensive end against Northwestern on Oct. 15, McDowell registered a career-high 11 tackles, including two for losses (11 yards) and a half sack (4 yards). All of McDowell’s previous 19 starts came along the interior of the defensive line.
He recorded four tackles (0.5 for loss) in Michigan State’s 36-28 win at No. 18 Notre Dame on Sept. 18, and tallied five stops, including a 9-yard sack, at Maryland on Oct. 22. McDowell tied his season high with two tackles for loss (3 yards) against No. 2 Michigan on Oct. 29.
A second-team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media as a sophomore in 2015, McDowell ranked second on the team in tackles for loss (13 for 54 yards), tied for second in QB hurries (8) and third in sacks (4.5 for 38 yards) as he helped Michigan State win the Big Ten Championship and reach the College Football Playoff. He was also named first-team All-Big Ten by ESPN.com and picked up second-team honors from The Associated Press and Athlon Sports. McDowell was second among Spartan defensive linemen with 41 tackles and ranked second on the team with 146 production points during the regular season.
McDowell was named to the ESPN.com Big Ten All-Bowl Team after recording two tackles, including a 2-yard loss, vs. No. 2 Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Cotton Bowl Classic. He racked up 25 production points in MSU’s regular-season finale against Penn State, as he recorded a 10-yard sack and a 13-yard interception return for a touchdown.
McDowell posted career highs in tackles (eight) and tackles for loss (4.5 for 14 yards) in MSU’s 24-7 win over Maryland to earn Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors. McDowell’s 4.5 tackles for loss were the eighth-best single-game total in MSU history and the second most by a Big Ten player in 2015 (Dean Lowry, Northwestern, six vs. Nebraska). McDowell also was credited with a half sack (2 yards) and forced fumble against the Terrapins. McDowell also had multiple tackles for loss games against Rutgers (2 for 11 yards) and Purdue (2 for 7 yards) while recording one sack each during those contests.
One of four true freshmen to letter for the Spartans in 2014, McDowell was named a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America and was also selected to the ESPN.com and BTN.com Big Ten All-Freshman Teams. He finished his first season with 15 tackles, including 4.5 for losses (21 yards) and 1.5 sacks (15 yards). McDowell earned the start in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic victory over No. 4 Baylor and recorded a 1-yard tackle for loss against the Bears.
McDowell is ranked the No. 3 interior defensive lineman in the draft, according to NFL Network’s Mike Mayock. He’s also ranked the No. 16 overall prospect by ESPN’s Scouts Inc.
The Spartans have sent four defensive linemen to the NFL Combine the past two seasons (Shilique Calhoun, Joel Heath and Lawrence Thomas in 2016) and six total under Dantonio (Jerel Worthy in 2012; William Gholston in 2013).
S Montae Nicholson — Monroeville, Pa. (Gateway High School)
A product of Monroeville, Pennsylvania, Nicholson finished second on the team with a career-high 86 tackles (7.8 avg.) as a junior in 2016, which ranked third among Big Ten defensive backs and 16th overall in the conference. He announced his decision to forgo his senior season and enter the 2017 NFL Draft on Dec. 29, 2016.
Nicholson led the team in tackles four times and had four double-digit tackle games last season, including a career-high 17 vs. BYU on Oct. 8, the most by a Spartan in a single game since 2005.
Nicholson also had 10 stops vs. No. 11 Wisconsin and 13 apiece vs. Northwestern and No. 2 Ohio State. In addition, he had two pass break-ups vs. Furman, a fumble recovery vs. No. 18 Notre Dame and a 10-yard interception return vs. Rutgers.
The 6-2, 219-pound Nicholson, who started 10 games at safety, also led the team in production points throughout the entire season and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades from the coaches and media. Named the 2016 recipient of the team’s Most Outstanding Underclass Back Award, he reached the 200-career tackle milestone in the season finale at No. 8 Penn State.
Nicholson recorded 200 tackles (109 solo, 91 assists), four interceptions (70 return yards), four pass break-ups, 4.5 tackles for loss (8 yards), three fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in 38 career games, including 23 starts.
As a sophomore in 2015, Nicholson ranked third on the team with 83 tackles, including 2.5 for losses, in 14 games of action as the Spartans won the Big Ten Championship and earned a spot in the College Football Playoff. He started 10 games at safety and led the team with 40 tackles over the last five games. He tied for the team lead with three interceptions (60 return yards) and ranked 10th with 58 production points during the regular season.
Nicholson posted seven solo stops vs. No. 2 Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinal and also tallied seven tackles vs. No. 4 Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game. In the regular-season finale vs. Penn State, he tied his season high with nine tackles, including a 3-yard loss, and also forced a fumble and broke up a pass. He led the Spartan secondary with 18 production points and had a team-high eight stops in the win at No. 2 Ohio State.
In addition, Nicholson competed on the indoor track and field team in the spring of 2015, placing sixth in the long jump at the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships with a leap of 7.23 meters (23-8 3/4).
Nicholson played in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2014, including three starts (Nebraska, Purdue, Indiana), and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team by ESPN.com and BTN.com. One of four true freshmen to letter for the Spartans in 2014, he led all first-year players with 31 tackles (18 solo, 13 assists) and led the team with 10 tackles on special teams (team-best nine on kickoffs). He posted five stops in his second career start at Purdue and was named Spartan Special Teams Player of the Week. In his first career start, he recorded a season-high seven tackles in the victory over No. 19 Nebraska.
Michigan State has sent 10 defensive backs to the NFL Combine under Dantonio, the most of any position group in his tenure.