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Darius Snow flashes versatility at linebacker and it may be here to stay

April 16, 2022
<p>Sophomore safety Darius Snow (23) tackles Penn State&#x27;s junior running back Devyn Ford (28) in MSU&#x27;s match against the Nittany Lions at Spartan Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. </p>

Sophomore safety Darius Snow (23) tackles Penn State's junior running back Devyn Ford (28) in MSU's match against the Nittany Lions at Spartan Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.

Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

Junior Darius Snow is listed as a safety on Michigan State’s official spring roster. But if you ask him about it, it’s not an accurate listing in his eyes.

“To that topic, I’m just gonna call myself a football player because I play everything so I’m just gonna say football player for future reference,” Snow said.

Snow’s versatility and playmaking ability were on full display Saturday afternoon for Michigan State’s 2022 Spring Game. The typical scrimmage was technically an open practice that featured just a trace of 11-on-11 periods due to injuries, particularly on the offensive line, but still, plenty of players flashed potential, including Snow.

He’s spent MSU’s spring practices working with defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton and the linebackers and new pass rush coordinator Brandon Jordan with the hopes of enriching his already versatile skill set. It’s a key part of Snow’s identity and a big reason why he’s catapulted into one of the Spartans’ most thrilling defensive players.

It was a limited sample size given the lack of scrimmage time, but Snow wasted no time making sure the fans in attendance braving the bitter April afternoon were left with a memorable moment.

Redshirt junior tight end Jackson Morse caught a pass across the middle and just as he was about to turn upfield he was met with a bruising hit from Snow. The ball jarred loose and fell to the ground. Senior linebacker and UNLV transfer Jacoby Windmon scooped the ball up and carried it into the endzone.

“When somebody's catching the ball and you're running towards them, it's a big opportunity for you to miss by just running and ducking your head,” Snow said. “So a big thing that I've always worked on is keeping my head up and when doing that just run through the tackle and I was able to get the ball out too which is nice.”

When spring practices started and Snow began his time as a linebacker, there was no telling how serious a position change may be. But he spent most of the day lining up as a weakside linebacker and it very well could be where he starts next fall.

“He’s got the safety speed to play linebacker and he’s smart,” fifth-year safety Xavier Henderson said. “He can tackle. I like seeing Darius in front of me because I know he knows what he’s doing.”

Snow had an astronomical rise into the ranks of top defenders on MSU in 2021. He didn’t start the first four games of the season but earned the starting nickel back job for the final nine games. Snow ranked third on the team with 87 tackles while also making 5.5 tackles for loss, three pass breakups, one interception and one fumble recovery.

He quickly became a well-liked Spartan as the season progressed for his hard-hitting style, likely a lineage stemming from his uncle, Percy Snow, a Michigan State linebacker from 1986-89, two-time All-American and member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Darius Snow has relied on his family for guidance through his ascension into the MSU defense.

“When my dad talked to him about it, me being open to playing this and all these positions, my uncle actually, he told my dad he's like 'Make sure you tell him no matter where you at, you gotta hit somebody,’” Snow said.

Hazelton and the Spartans suddenly have plenty of options to throw in at linebacker. Senior Quavaris Crouch and redshirt sophomore Cal Haladay were the tandem that ran the show in 2021 and return as the assumed starters. MSU brought in fifth-year Aaron Brule and Windmon as well, who are both talented enough to deserve playing time and should help boost the scarce depth of last year’s position group.

Snow said his goal this spring was to get an understanding of the linebacker position to an equal level to his knowledge of the secondary. He believes he’s accomplished that but isn’t done though, saying he wants to learn other positions too such as defensive end.

“I believe that I’m at that point,” Snow said. “That’s now five positions that I know very well in the back of my head. I’m trying to learn, not that I’m gonna play it, but I’m trying to learn how to play D-end as well.”

It would probably take a strange situation for Snow to line up at the defensive end in a game next fall, but for now, it looks as if this linebacker stint may be here to stay.

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