Michigan State football defensive line coach Ron Burton leaving Spartans after 9 seasons

·3 min read

A key member of Michigan State football’s coaching staff for nearly a decade is leaving.

Defensive line coach Ron Burton announced via Twitter on Sunday that he plans to “look for new opportunities” after serving as an assistant coach with the Spartans since 2013. It is unclear if he plans to seek another coaching job.

“For nearly a decade, I’ve had the privilege to coach some of the finest young men in front of one of football’s best fan bases,” Burton wrote. “As I look for new opportunities, I wanted to let you know that East Lansing and Michigan State will always hold a special place in my heart. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

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Mark Dantonio hired Burton away from Air Force in 2013, and he helped mold the MSU front four that won the Big Ten title and Rose Bowl that season, captured the Spartans’ first New Year’s Six bowl win in the Cotton Bowl Classic after the 2014 season and guided them to another league title and the College Football Playoff semifinals in 2015. He was twice named FootballScoop.com national defensive line coach, in 2013 and 2018 and helped mentor a number of Spartans who went into the NFL, including Shilique Calhoun, Joel Heath, Malik McDowell, Raequan Williams and Naquan Jones.

In nine seasons, Burton’s run-stuffing defensive lines helped MSU lead the Big Ten in run defense four times (2013, 2014, 2017, 2018). The Spartans led the nation twice under him in 2015 at 88.5 rushing yards allowed and in 2018 at 77.9 yards, and they ranked No. 2 in the country twice in 2014 at 88.6 yards and 2017 at 95.3.

Dantonio had Burton work exclusively with MSU’s defensive tackles from 2017-19, and Tucker returned him to coaching the entire defensive line in 2020 and 2021.

MSU tied for seventh in the Football Bowl Subdivision this season at 43 sacks and tied for fourth at 3.31 per game. The Spartans also ranked 15th nationally in run defense (117.2 yards allowed) en route to finishing No. 8 in the USA Today coaches poll and winning the Peach Bowl for the school's second New Year's Six victory.

Ron Burton joined MSU's staff in 2013.
Ron Burton joined MSU's staff in 2013.

The 57-year-old North Carolina alum, who played four seasons in the NFL at linebacker from 1987-90, also coached defensive line at Air Force from 2003-12 and Grand Valley State in 2002. Prior to that, he was a linebackers coach at both Eastern Michigan (1995-96) and Indiana (1997-2001), as well as a one-year stop coaching defensive backs at Morehead State in 1994.

Tucker on Saturday officially announced the hiring of pass rush specialist Brandon Jordan, who has been a private trainer for a number of NFL stars. He also hired Effrem Reed as running backs coach Thursday.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State football DL coach Ron Burton leaving after 9 seasons