Maxwell "part of the story" for the Spartans

Michigan State's senior quarterback talks about his season, the time he spent learning a new role and what his experiences were like in his final season as a Spartan.

It had been a long time since Andrew Maxwell had talked publicly about his experience at Michigan State this season.

So it was no surprise it took him a few minutes to get used to the peppering of questions in Los Angeles about his benching and life since then.

"I'm probably a little rusty, but I really don't mind it and I was going to have to talk at some time," Maxwell said. "I couldn't keep my silence forever. I couldn't just disappear like Batman into the Bat Cave and never be heard from again."

At times, disappearing a la the Dark Knight might have been preferable for the senior quarterback. But that wouldn't have been true to character for the Midland native and his spot on the team that is readying for the Rose Bowl.

"He's part of the story here," coach Mark Dantonio said. "We could not have gotten to where we've gotten without Andrew Maxwell handling things the way he's handling it. You have a starting quarterback for 13 games last year; he's a senior going into his fifth year.

"He's a very popular person, a great person, and he handled it. … You can't get here without everybody pulling in the same direction."

The direction began at the conclusion of last year's Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, capping a 7-6 season that wasn't up to expectations for the Spartans. Connor Cook emerged as a candidate to play in 2013 after the game in Tempe, Ariz., and a quarterback battle began and continued into fall camp as four quarterbacks were in the mix.

Maxwell started the season opener against Western Michigan and played against South Florida, but Dantonio declared Cook the starter the following week after he put on a big performance against Youngstown State and the competition over.

"It just comes down to who gets the job done," Maxwell said. "It comes down to production and that's the nature of the business and the nature of the position that if you don't get the job done, then there's not a lot of job security and I understand that."

The fifth-year player was left having to learn a new role – a role he had to accept and handle on the fly.

"It was just a process and just like any process, there's ups and downs, there's things you have to get used to and learn how to deal with," Maxwell said. "As the process went on, I kind of got more and more of an idea of what that looked like, what the everyday process looked like. The biggest thing I kept telling the coaches was I just needed to know my role. As soon as I knew my role, then I would know what was asked of me and then I could go do it the best I could. Once I figured that out, it made things a lot easier."

Over time it clicked. He said there was no defining moment that he understood his role, but the gradual process and support of his family, girlfriend and coaches helped him.

Maxwell, who was baptized the during the season, also said his faith in Jesus Christ was essential to him and taught him.

"Ultimately, Jesus Christ is the hero," he said. "Christ is the reason that I'm able to breathe let alone get through a difficult situation like this. It just allowed me to see his grace a lot clearer. It allowed me to see His sovereignty and His power, so for that I was thankful."

With that foundation in his faith and support around him, Maxwell chose to take the high road in a tough situation. In that, he set an example for teammates and coaches.

"He has meant everything (to us)," freshman quarterback Damion Terry said. "He still takes the approach as if he was as a starter. He's always in the film room, first one in and last one to leave. He's always coaching Connor, me or anyone else, just trying to get everyone to get better.

"He's a really great guy and I give him all the credit for how he approached this year after what happened."

Dantonio said Maxwell has provided him a great example of how to handle adversity.

"It takes an incredibly strong person to be able to go through what he he's had to go through and endure," Dantonio said. "It's been tough and he could have made things difficult here, but he chose this path and that path has allowed us to flourish as a football team."

Even though he isn't having a direct hand in the success on game day, Maxwell said he still feels he has had a part in it.

He pointed to the lessons learned in 2009 that paid off in 2010 as the Spartans won the Big Ten as similar lessons to those learned in 2012 with his teammates.

"I would like to think that we learned a lot of lessons that year and I went through a lot of that stuff with the guys last year and we're better because of it," he said. "So to think that I have a hand in it even though I'm not directly a part of it on the field this year, that makes it better.

"I'm a team guy. There's no secret about that. I love seeing the team have success. I love seeing the program have success."

As he moves forward – he graduated in December with his degree in marketing – Dantonio said there is no doubt Maxwell will be a good representative of the university wherever he winds up.

"He's got so many different things going for him as a person and as a player, so I guess the future is a little bit in question as to what he does just like it is for all of us," he said.

The first goal for Maxwell is to see if a possible future awaits him in football at the next level.

"I feel like I have the talent to do it," he said. "I feel like I have 14 games of tape that can show I have the ability to do that. It's been a goal of mine and it beats a day job. … I haven't gotten all of the logistics worked out yet but that's something that's been a dream of mine and a goal of mine since I was a little kid and I became a fan of the game.

"That's something that I want to pursue and keep trying to run down the dream."

And even though his experience in East Lansing might not have been what he envisioned, that dream didn't disappear and neither did Maxwell.

"I think that's a lesson for everybody out there going through their struggles on teams," Dantonio said. "Maybe they're not starting at point guard this week. Maybe they used to start and they're not starting. It's a point of emphasis, there's no question about that, on this football team, and I think you gain a greater appreciation and a greater respect for him as an individual."


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