The first day of college classes always is a daunting experience for a freshman arriving on campus.
For Chris Frey and Matt Sokol, that feeling was delayed a little while. The two freshmen football players enrolled early at Michigan State and were greeted by a large volume of snow and a pair of snow days.
"It was a nice start to college," Frey said with a laugh.
Frey and Sokol finished high school after their fall semesters at Upper Arlington (Columbus, Ohio) and Rochester Adams, respectively, and moved into South Case Hall on Jan. 5.
Being new to East Lansing and suddenly with two days of time to kill, the pair took the time to sit and talk.
"We didn't know anybody on campus so we just sat there and talked for a while," Frey said. "We knew each other before this, but not to a crazy extent, so we really got to know each other and we hung out a lot. …
"From those couple days we had off of school, it's really brought us closer together."
Finally getting out of their dormitory and into the swing of college life, things started to fall in place quickly.
The two share some classes, Frey said, and now they have all the football workouts on the same days.
"We are on the same schedule pretty much every day," he said. "Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday we've got the same lifts. Starting next week, we've got the same running Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
"It's always nice to have someone going through the same thing as you to help get you through it and if one of us is not doing what we need to do, we kind of get on each other."
Sokol, who worked hard in the past few months to ensure he could graduate early, said he likes the different structure of academics in college. He also said he started feeling how much he loved being in college – as he has been telling his parents frequently in the past month – when he really saw the family atmosphere with the football program.
"People say Michigan State is a family," Sokol said. "That was just the biggest thing that overwhelmed me because every single guy came up and shook my hand and introduced themselves and really welcomed us.
"It makes us feel like we're really a part of something special. It made me so happy I was here."
The transition wasn't without its share of adjustments, though, as the leap to college strength and conditioning programs is a rude awakening for many.
"It's exhausting but it's this level of conditioning and competition and the hard work that you do here," Sokol said. "It's just on a different level so I can see myself changing and see progression already."
Taking full part in the winter conditioning has been important for Sokol, who suffered a dislocated ankle and spiral fracture of his fibula in October. He got cleared to run on Dec. 26, just in time to get ready to arrive and benefit from what Michigan State offers.
"The rehab facility here is just unreal and all the trainers have just been doing an unbelievable job with helping me and helping me recover," he said.
For Frey, getting a scholarship offer from Michigan State meant adding weight from his junior year to senior year and once he did, the offer came, Now, he sees the same need to add bulk to play at the Big Ten level, so he is excited to get in the weight room.
"It's 10 times harder than what it was in high school," he said. "It's nothing like I've ever done before especially the winter conditioning. It was one the toughest things I've ever done.
"The lifting just tears you up, but after a while you get used to it and you know it's for the better."
Frey, who set himself to graduate early during his sophomore year, the opportunity to learn the defensive schemes of Pat Narduzzi with more time before the first game arrives in the fall is valuable.
"It was a special thing for me and I knew that I needed to come in early to the school I was going to so that I could get a head start," he said. "I get to learn the defense at a slower pace than what happens in summer camp and I get a head start on lifting and get to put on a little bit of weight before everyone else gets here."
But when everyone else in the 2014 recruiting class arrives in June, will Frey be ready to help show them the ropes?
"Absolutely," he said.
The other incomers – expected to be 21 on scholarship – won't have the same benefit of snow days, after all.