Earned never given
Every so often, there are student-athletes who come through a program and although not expected to make an impact, become key pieces to a team’s success.
Kyler Elsworth is that type of player for the Michigan State Spartans football team.
Elsworth, now in his senior season, has made crucial plays during his tenure here on both defense and special teams. He has key sacks, tackles for loss, and punt blocks that big time players make. But it has to be mentioned; Elsworth was once a walk-on.
Elsworth, who was featured in last weeks media guide, walked on to the team in the summer of 2009.
“Everyone asks why I chose football over wrestling,” said Elsworth, who was a high school All-American wrestler, sporting several D1 scholarship offers to wrestle including one to Michigan State.
“I know it sounds crazy passing on a free education, but football was where my real passion lied,” said Elsworth.
At 195 pounds entering into Michigan State, Elsworth was asked to play fullback, a position usually warranted for heavier players.
“I knew I was too small coming in and didn’t really know if I could make it here (Michigan State), especially since I didn’t have a scholarship and was often going to be overlooked i felt,” said Elsworth.
“My true freshman year I didn’t even get reps on the scout team,” said Elsworth.
“I wanted to make a difference, but I didn’t really know how to,” said Elsworth.
The Turning Point
After Elsworth’s red shirting season in his first year, he was moved to linebacker in the spring.
“I immediately felt more at home at linebacker,” said Elsworth.
“I finally got in the weight room a lot and was beginning to put on weight. Just lifting with the guys and getting stronger made me feel like I belonged and actually could play at this level,” said Elsworth.
With the added weight, Elsworth began making impactful plays on special teams and went into his redshirt freshman year as a special teams starter ready to make a difference.
“My linebacker coach, Coach Tressel, who is also the special teams coach always stressed special teams as very important, so I took it as such,” said Elsworth.
According to the strength coaches at Michigan State, Elsworth has always been one of the hardest workers in the weight room. Over the five years that he has been here, Elsworth has gained over 30 pounds and transformed himself into a menacing force on the field.
During Elsworth’s redshirt sophomore season, Elsworth had a key punt block against Wisconsin. During his redshirt junior season, he made key tackles and sacks against Wisconsin and Iowa.
“Once I gained the weight, I knew I could play,” said Elsworth. “I just had to prove it to the coaches and myself that I could make these plays on Saturdays.
A True Catalyst
Elsworth earned a scholarship prior to his redshirt sophomore season; a feat only few walk ons obtain.
“It was really exciting and emotional for me to to be told by Coach Dantonio that I had earned a full ride for the rest of my tenure here,” said Elsworth.
“It was then that I really knew choosing to play football, and trusting my heart was the right thing to do,” said Elsworth.
“Kyler definitely deserves that scholarship,” said Elsworth’s linebacker mate Taiwan Jones.
“I see Kyler as a leader on this team and someone I really look up too,” said Jones.
Everything about Elsworth breathes hard work and dedication. In his tenure at Michigan State Elsworth has notched 59 tackles, six tackles for loss, and three sacks in 40 career games.
Elsworth is currently in his senior season and has helped the Spartans to a 9-1 start to the season and first place ranking in the Legends Division.
By: Darien Harris