In a surprise announcement at Breslin Center on Sunday, Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun walked in following the introduction of new assistant coach Mark Snyder and dropped news of his own.
The junior defensive end announced he will return to Michigan State for his senior season. But as he opened, it sounded like a much different decision had been made.
”I had a great four years here at Michigan State University,” Calhoun said. “I just want to thank Coach D for the opportunity he’s given me these past four years and to say that I’m gonna make another great, you know, my last year, last hurrah.”
Calhoun, a two-time All-Big Ten selection, said he sees a lot of potential with the team Michigan State has next season. He said part of his reason to come back is to be a part of a national title run.
”With the talent that we have on this team, I know we can go far,” Calhoun said. “I want to actually be part of that team to take us to the national championship.
”I believe with the coaching staff we have and the players we have and the dedication to each other, the passion for the game and the passion to succeed will take us there. So I look forward to another great year here at Michigan State University.”
Calhoun said the decision was mostly made before the Cotton Bowl, but he was “just seeing how things played out.”
”Like I said I think last year around this time, the first thing I want to do is get my degree, that's first and foremost,” he said. “It's always something that my mom's been (can't tell word here) about. I think I'll be the first in my immediate family to get it, so that's special to me. And then to be a part of this program is also special to me.
As for feedback from the NFL advisory board, Mark Dantonio said Calhoun was expected to be a first-day pick, while Calhoun offered some humor into the feedback.
”They told I was going No. 1 overall, and I was like, 'Listen, stop baiting me. I've got unfinished business here at Michigan State,'” Calhoun said. “No, they told me I did a good job this year, I just need to be more consistent. That was the gist of it. Basically, I have unfinished business.”
So in the end, with his options weighed, Calhoun decided the best decision for him was to return for another season – which he said came down to being an easy choice.
”You’ve got to understand the value in both your degree and playing in the NFL, but I know that opportunity is gonna come for me,” Calhoun said. “So the decision wasn’t hard when it all came down and boiled down to understanding who I had above me, teaching me and guiding me. It was a pretty easy decision.”
That left Dantonio calling the pair his biggest recruits for next season.
”I don't think there's any question that our two biggest recruits was the guy that just walked out the door there, Shilique Calhoun, and Connor Cook,” Dantonio said. “I think when you have two guys that are basically All-Americans making a decision to return, it gives you a great push for 2015."