It's not every day that a college football player goes from non-scholarship to starter within a year, but that's exactly what happened to Jack Conklin.
After accepting a late offer in April 2012 to come to Michigan State, Conklin now sits on top of the depth chart at left tackle – something he checks every morning.
"Oh yeah, (I check it) every day," Conklin said. "I am trying to work hard everyday. I know they are right at my back. I've got a lot of good guys right with me."
The 6-foot-6, 326-pound redshirt freshman spent last fall on the scout team – and without a scholarship, before being placed on one in January.
He said the time on the scout team really brought him along as a player.
"I think that's the biggest thing that helped me the most, going against guys like Will Gholston – a fourth-round draft pick and that's helped me a ton," Conklin said. "Those guys help a lot on scout team. They tell you what you're doing wrong, what you need to do better. That's really helped me a lot."
A year later, he is working against the first-team defensive line, which he also says helps immensely during fall camp.
"It's helped a lot because not I get to go against guys like Shilique (Calhoun) and Marcus Rush every single day," Conklin said. "That helps me work on my footwork. Nothing against the guys on twos, but these are some the best guys in the Big Ten."
Conklin, who has put on about 30 pounds of since coming to Michigan State, said the biggest thing for him trying to win the job is just knowing what to do.
"I think it's just knowing where you're going," he said. "The biggest thing is just getting the playbook down and then effectively get the defender out of the way and do your job."
As he continues to compete to be the starter, Conklin says the process of the past year means a lot to him.
"It means the world to me to see my hard work pay off a little," Conklin said. "Going from not having a scholarship to being able to have a chance to play against the ones has been really nice for me."