Jan. 8, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State offensive lineman Jack Conklin, who started 13 of 14 games in 2013, and kicker Michael Geiger, who ranked second on the team in scoring with 81 points, have been named to the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team. Conklin and Geiger account for half of the four Big Ten players selected to the 28-man team, joining Minnesota offensive lineman Ben Lauer and Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa.
It marks the seventh time in the last eight years that a Spartan has earned a spot on the FWAA Freshman All-America Team, as Conklin and Geiger join placekicker Brett Swenson (2006), linebacker Greg Jones (2007), offensive guard Joel Foreman (2008), defensive tackle Jerel Worthy (2009), defensive end Marcus Rush (2011) and offensive lineman Jack Allen (2012).
Conklin, a 6-foot-6, 326-pound red-shirt freshman, started the first three games at right tackle before settling in on the left side where he started the last 10 games.
The Plainwell, Mich., native ranked fourth among offensive linemen with 55 knockdowns during the regular season and helped pave the way for junior tailback Jeremy Langford, who led the Big Ten in rushing touchdowns (18) and finished fourth in the league in rushing yards (1,422). In addition, Conklin didn't allow a sack during the entire 2013 season.
"Jack Conklin finished the season strong, with winning performances against two top-rated programs, in Ohio State and Stanford," MSU offensive line coach Mark Staten said. "The best thing about Jack is that he isn't close to reaching his ceiling.
"You can't write a better script for the young man. Jack went from being an unrecruited walk-on to becoming a Freshman All-American, who had a dominating performance in the Rose Bowl. He doesn't want to be remembered as anything but the best - whether it be as a teammate, person or player. Jack works the extra hours to be great."
He produced a team-high five knockdowns in the home finale against Minnesota. Conklin recorded a career-best eight knockdowns at Illinois and registered six takedowns each at Nebraska and against Purdue. He totaled seven knockdowns against Indiana. Conklin earned his first start in his collegiate debut against Western Michigan and tallied 5.5 takedowns in 74 snaps.
Conklin previously earned Freshman All-America honors from Sporting News and CollegeFootballNews.com. In addition, he was named to the ESPN.com and BTN.com Big Ten All-Freshman Teams.
Geiger, a 5-8, 196-pound true freshman, connected on 15-of-16 field-goal attempts and 36-of-38 extra-point tries. His school single-season record .938 field-goal percentage led the Big Ten and tied for fourth in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. His 15 field goals made tied for third in the Big Ten. Geiger went 8-for-8 on field-goal attempts from 40-plus yards. He ranked sixth in the Big Ten in scoring (7.4 points per game) and fourth in kick scoring.
The Toledo, Ohio, native converted his last 13 field-goal attempts, including a 31-yarder against No. 5 Stanford in the 2014 Rose Bowl Game that tied the score at 17 early in the third quarter. His 13 consecutive field goals made is just two shy of tying the school record set by Brett Swenson in 2008.
"Michael Geiger played with the poise of a veteran in many high-pressure situations this year," Spartan special teams coach Mike Tressel said. "Our entire team had confidence every time he set foot on the field. His accuracy is definitely a strength."
He earned honorable mention All-America honors from SI.com. An honorable mention all-conference selection by the media, Geiger was named to the ESPN.com and BTN.com Big Ten All-Freshman Teams.
Geiger was named College Football Performance Awards National Placekicker of the Week after scoring 10 points in a 34-24 win over No. 2 Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. He went a perfect 4-for-4 on PATs and 2-for-2 on field-goal attempts, hitting a 40-yarder in the first quarter and a 44-yarder in the third quarter.
He scored 11 points at Nebraska, including two field goals (45 and 25 yards) and five PATs. Geiger also accounted for 11 points against No. 23 Michigan, including three field goals (40, 44 and 35 yards) and two extra points.
He made all six of his extra-point attempts at Illinois and against Indiana.
Geiger scored a career-high 14 points in the Big Ten opener at Iowa, converting 4-of-5 on field-goal attempts (made from 27, 35, career-long 49 and 40 yards) against the Hawkeyes. His four field goals at Iowa also marked a career-best.
He made his collegiate debut at No. 22 Notre Dame, connecting on field goals from 25 and 42-yard field goals and hitting his only PAT against the Irish.
The FWAA Freshman All-America Team and coach are selected by a 10-person panel of nationally prominent writers, led by MLive Media Group's Mike Griffith. Both true freshmen (21 players) and red-shirt freshmen (seven players) were considered for the team.