The Breakdown: Defensive backs Adams and Dennard key MSU defense

(Editor’s Note: This is the seventh installment of positional previews.

Previous: The Breakdown: Quarterbacks; The Breakdown: Running Backs; The Breakdown: Wide Receivers; The Breakdown: Offensive Line; The Breakdown: Defensive Line, The Breakdown: Linebackers)

Big Man on Campus: Johnny Adams

When people talk about swagger being a huge part of how the Michigan State defense plays, they likely are talking about Adams. The senior is as in your face as a player gets, and with how the Spartans defense plays its cornerbacks — pressing up at the line — Adams is exactly what Pat Narduzzi wants.

Oh, and he is not too shabby in coverage either.

After toying with the idea of leaving early for the NFL, Adams returned for his senior year — and surely will continue the streak of Michigan State having a defensive back drafted, a streak which sits at three.

Joining forces with Darqueze Dennard, the two cornerbacks allow Narduzzi to do exactly what he wants: stack the box with nine guys and get after the quarterback. It takes away the short throws for opposing quarterbacks and is a luxury because of two fantastic corners.

**More after the jump**

Next best thing: Darqueze Dennard, Isaiah Lewis

Dennard and Lewis are a pair of talented juniors, who both saw the field as true freshman in 2010.Darqueze Dennard has proven himself a talented, play-making cornerback for the Spartans. (AP Photo)

Dennard reaps the benefit of teams shying away from throwing to Adams’ side of the field and gets tested. He matched Adams’ three picks in 2011, including two in beating Georgia.

Lewis also had his share of interceptions, picking off four passes in 2011.

 Best of the rest: Jairus Jones, Kurtis Drummond, R.J. Williamson, Trae Waynes, Arjen Colquhoun and Mitchell White

Jones, Drummond and Williamson are battling for the starting free safety spot vacated by Trenton Robinson. Jones and Drummond appear to be the favorites, but with about a week left before the Boise State game, this appears to be the least-settled of the position battles.

Williamson also should see the field as he was a player who almost had his redshirt removed last year because of his play in practice and on the scout team.

White is the third cornerback after being a starter early in 2011. Waynes and Colquhoun likely are the future at cornerback, as well as Mylan Hicks — who was a pretty well-regarded recruit.

While the linebacking corps is the deepest unit on defense, the secondary has plenty of players who seem to have bright futures ahead of them. Mark Dantonio was a defensive backs coach at Ohio State, keep in mind. He develops them well.

Incoming: Demetrious Cox, Mark Meyers, Jermaine Edmonson, Ezra Robinson

Cox was one of the top gets of the 2012 recruiting class. The kid can flat out play and has a solid chance to see the field this season. He is physical and plays well in coverage, but make no mistake, he is a big hitter — watch the highlights and you will see.

Meyers was a late addition to the class and was committed to Toledo previously. Rumors indicated his grades kept Big Ten interest at bay, but once those question marks were cleared, MSU came calling.

Edmonson comes from Ohio power Canton McKinley. He is a sound cover corner, who with a year or two in the system looks like he has all the skills to be a very good cornerback in East Lansing. As mentioned with Adams, he is the physical type of player the Spartans love.

Another physical corner, Robinson doesn’t have available tape from high school, but this much we do know: He has been impressive through the fall camp. His name has been mentioned with Cox, Jamal Lyles and Riley Bullough as players who might play right away on defense.

Storyline: Who wins out the battle at free safety?

The players seem to rotate bi-weekly. If the season started today, the starter would be Jones. But, the Big Ten Network was on campus this week and reported that Drummond and Jones both were taking first-team reps. Ideally, one player is the starter against Boise State, but there is a chance both players will see significant time.

The biggest thing to watch at free safety might be how Cox develops. He won’t be the starter from day one, but by November, he might be.