Spring Scrimmage: A Recruitable Moment

Michigan State hosted recruits at their second spring scrimmage yesterday, and one came in with his eyes wide open. Alex Andrus watched the Spartans closely and talked to numerous MSU coaches about schemes and scholarships, among other things. Click through for an in-depth conversation about all that and more with the impressively intelligent LB/DE prospect out of Coopersville . . .

So far this spring, the defense has dominated. Is that what happened again Saturday?

"That's what happened today, too," Andrus said yesterday over the phone. "I couldn't believe it because I thought the offense brought a lot back, but Javon Ringer is out right now, so I think their running game is hurting.

"But their defense, I thought, lost a lot of senior leadership with Kaleb Thornhill and Saint-Dic and those guys leaving. I think the defense is doing fine."


Which Spartan players had a productive afternoon and scrimmage in the eyes of the young recruit?

"I was really impressed with Tyler Hoover," Andrus said. "He should be in high school still and he was making sack after sack out there."

And at linebacker?

"I watched Greg Jones hit and he hit like a beast," he said. "You can't block him. I watched him – a pulling guard came across and he just spins out of the – I don't know how he does it. He's like rubber, he just bounces off the block and makes the tackle.

"If I got film on that guy, I'd study how he plays linebacker, because some of his technique is just amazing."

Who else?

"Of course Otis Wiley, he played really tough, but he's supposed to play tough as one of the team leaders coming back. I'd give Eric Gordon a good nod, too. When I watched him play 7-on-7 he made like two interceptions and when I watched him live he was hitting pretty hard, too.

"Adam Decker looked pretty good, he's a big guy. Their linebackers started out a little slow, but after awhile they started hitting as a group." Andrus noted, however, that coach Tressel told him some players were competing out of position, which is difficult considering each position requires different reads.


What did Andrus think about the defensive playbook he saw this early in the year?

"The schemes they ran were amazing," he explained. "I even told coach Tressel after the practice that if I tried to be offensive coordinator and looked at the offensive lineman, I don't know how I'd block what they (the defense) were running against them."

He continued: "I said that in our (Coopersville High School) defense we run a 3-4 with shifting linebackers. I said it was very similar, except we didn't have a down end. I played that outside end sometimes and that was their rushing linebacker and I said I could play that linebacker, even if it is considered a strong side linebacker, to bring me in and play that 4-3. It's a similar situation with Eric Gordon – he plays that.

"And (we talked about) how much freedom their linebackers have, because the safeties are always coming back side … and it's not just – if the linebacker misses a tackle, there's always going to be a safety.

"And he (coach Tressel) said that they weren't as aggressive as they should have been last year. They were too worried about missing tackles than knocking guys out. So he said he's going to try to get that to change with these guys."


So did Andrus have any more conversations with head coach Mark Dantonio about possible scholarships?

"Yeah, I did at the beginning," Andrus said. "We talked and he basically said the same thing. He's going to take a look at my films in the next couple of days or weeks, whenever he can get the chance.

"Basically he said it's going to come down to summer camp with me. I've also talked to a bunch of other recruits that are in the same situation. Reid Fragel, for example, he's a tight end, offensive tackle — whatever they want to play him at.

"It's kind of a position battle for both of us. I'm a six-four, 235-pound – athlete, I guess you could say, but at Michigan State that's too big for a middle linebacker. They're playing Greg Jones in the middle right now, and I think they'd want me to play on the defensive line.

"But what coach Tressel told me was that he could possibly see me playing first and second down at a Mike Linebacker, then third down as a rush defensive end, and they've had those situations before."

Indeed they have. Last season Ervin Baldwin roamed the D-end position for the first two downs until third-and-long, when he slid down into a nose tackle role in State's 3-4 look. Tight end Kellen Davis also joined the defensive fray in those situations, entering the game as a rush end.

"I also talked to coach (Ted) Gill, he's the defensive line coach. I'm going to get put through a work out with him at the senior one-day camp (in June).

"They said they liked my film, and I'm a very good football player, but they don't know what to recruit me as yet, because they need linebackers. But they don't need middle linebackers, so they said, ‘if you can play defensive end, that's perfect. We just need to see what you can do on the field'."


Andrus said he's planning to attend senior camps at MSU, Michigan, Purdue and possibly Central Michigan, who could be nearing an offer. But those plans will have to wait until after June 12, his last day of school when he will be officially considered a senior.

He'll also be attending a NIKE camp in May and an Under Armour combine as well. An exposure camp in Wixom is also potentially on the itinerary for the busy athlete.

"I'll just be making unofficials whenever I get a chance," he said. "Every day it's working out and trying to get better."

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