Bell, Gholston among juniors who could make NFL leap

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After completing a grueling regular season, members of the MSU football team’s (6-6 overall, 3-5 Big Ten) junior class will use the next few weeks to decide if they’ll return to school next season or forgo their senior year to enter the NFL draft.

With head coach Mark Dantonio potentially having the most talented junior class in his tenure, highlighted by running back Le’Veon Bell, tight end Dion Sims, defensive end Will Gholston and cornerback Darqueze Dennard, among others, there could be a number of players deciding their future in the coming weeks.

“If they’re going to stay, they’ve got to have good reasons to stay, otherwise they’re not happy. If they’re going to leave, they’ve got to have good reasons to leave, otherwise they’re not happy,” Dantonio said.

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Natalie Kolb / The State News
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Adam Toolin / The State News

“The first thing that you would do as a young player is you could petition the NFL to get a read on what possible draft pick you would be, keeping in mind that … 47 percent of the people that say, ‘I’m going to go,’ they never get drafted.

“I’m going to make sure I’m not selfish because I’ve never tried to be that for our players, I’ve tried to be for them. So that’s how we handle it.”

Josh Mansour

Le’Veon Bell Running back
Height/weight: 6 feet 2 inches, 237 pounds
Hometown/high school: Columbus, Ohio, native from Groveport Madison High School
Recruiting rank according to rivals.com: Two-star recruit
Accomplishments at MSU: First-team All-Big Ten selection by coaches and media, second-highest single-season rushing total in MSU history in 2012
National prognostication: nfldraftscout.com has Bell rated as the third-best running back in the draft.

Dion Sims Tight end
Height/weight: 6 feet 5 inches, 285 pounds
Hometown/high school: Detroit native from Orchard Lake St. Mary’s High School
Recruiting rank according to rivals.com: Four-star recruit, top-five tight end
in the country
Accomplishments at MSU: Second-team All-Big Ten selection by both coaches and media. Set career highs in catches and receiving yards despite missing nearly three full games.
National prognostications: nfldraftscout.com has Sims rated as the fourth-best tight end in the draft.

Will Gholston Defensive end
Height/weight: 6 feet 7 inches, 278 pounds
Hometown/high school: Detroit native from Southeastern High School
Recruiting rank according to rivals.com: Five-star recruit, 21st-ranked player in the country
Accomplishments at MSU: Two-time second-team All-Big Ten selection by media, honorable mention by coaches in 2012; is 10th in tackles for a loss in MSU history.
National prognostications: nfldraftscout.com has Gholston rated as the 10th-best defensive end in the draft.

Darqueze Dennard Defensive back
Height/weight: 5 feet 11 inches, 188 pounds
Hometown/high school: Dry Branch, Ga., native from Twiggs County High School
Recruiting rank according to rivals.com: Two-star recruit
Accomplishments at MSU: First-team All-Big Ten selection by coaches, second-team by media. Tied for the team lead in interceptions, pass breakups and passes defended.
National prognostications: nfldraftscout.com has Dennard rated as the 15th-best cornerback in the draft.

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