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MnB B1G Preview 2014: Three key players for Michigan State football

In the last installment of our key players series, we take a look at three key players for Michigan State this upcoming season.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, we have Michigan State.

The conference champions, Rose Bowl Champions and if it weren't for one blemish on the schedule it might've been more. With the same coaching staff and philosophies returning, the Spartans are looking to prove to the nation that their 2013 season was no fluke. With head coach Mark Dantonio and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi at the helm, success will surely continue to happen.

However, to prove the doubters wrong and continue on their winning ways, these three players in particular are key in aiding the Spartans on another quest for glory in 2014.

Connor Cook - Quarterback

Boy have times changed for the Spartans.

What was a major question mark at the beginning of the season turned into a strength in a blink of an eye as soon as Connor Cook took over at quarterback for Michigan State. Taking over permanently during the third game of the season, Cook lead the Spartans to a fantastic year offensively. He was truly the missing link that made the 2013 Spartans a complete team.

Cook finished 2013 with 2755-yards with 22 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. If he saw starting snaps the two games he made minor appearances, labeling him a 3000-yard passer would be a real possibility.

In 2014, the junior quarterback returns as one of the best quarterbacks in the conference and an argument could be made about being in the group of best quarterbacks in the country. This season will tell whether that will become true or now.

Regardless, what a difference a year makes. From a player who might not see full-time snaps to becoming a quarterback all defensive coaches will scheme around.

Also, for any quarterback hopefuls out there, watch as Cook will teach you how to execute the "Three Step Drop."

Jeremy Langford - Running Back

Michigan State had a reliable quarterback last year and they had yet another reliable running back. It's makes their lives on offense so much easier that way.

Langford (now a junior) had a fantastic 2013 statistically. Finishing with over 1400-yards and 18 touchdowns, it is safe to say that he has filled the void that former Spartan running back Le'Veon Bell left behind. Hungry to prove that their offense is no fluke, Langford is just another weapon that is returning for the Spartans in 2014.

Shilique Calhoun - Defensive End

This guy is an absolute monster and a match-up nightmare for offenses.

Arguably one of the best returning defensive players in the conference (and country,) Calhoun could possibly be using this 2014 season as a precursor to the NFL Draft. He is that good and also that impressive.

His 2013 season as just a true freshman was outstanding. Finishing the year with 35 tackles, seven-and-a-half sacks and one interception, Calhoun is most famous for his six tackle and two-and-a-half sack performance against Michigan in East Lansing. He was a one-man wrecking crew against the torched Wolverine offensive line.

To rekindle your memory (or nightmares) his performance against Michigan is below.