Sept. 3, 2013
By Aimee Dulebohn, MSU Athletic Communications Intern
It all comes down to a feeling as senior defensive lineman Micajah Reynolds tends to trust his instincts in most situations. However, sometimes it's just a matter of circumstance.
That's exactly how Reynolds has grown into the person he is, arrived in East Lansing and developed the role he has on the 2013 Michigan State football team.
Though he grew up back and forth between Lansing and Detroit, Reynolds is proud to be a hometown favorite. His first name, Micajah (pronounced muh-KY-juh), which means "Who is like God", has been ever more poignant and popular after his recent experience helping to save the life of a local teen made local and national headlines.
"It's great to be able to have so much local support and people hearing my name from playing high school here," said Reynolds. "Being able to go to MSU down the street and stay here instead of going out of state always makes it a little more special. Going to home games and seeing familiar faces in the crowd is great. If I'm the person who's supposed to be representing Lansing, then I'm going to do everything a little bit harder and do everything to the fullest."
Reynolds has been a Spartan for as long as he can remember. His mother, Delilah, was a student at MSU, and the legacy has continued through Reynolds' collegiate career.
"My mom went here, so when I was very young I was raised on the campus," Reynolds said. "Back when Spartan Village had an elementary school, I went to Spartan Elementary and I went to Spartan child development when I was a little child. It's kind of surreal to be honest to go from being a little kid having dreams of playing pro and playing in college to actually playing at State. That's extremely rare."
However, it wasn't an easy road to becoming a member of the MSU football team. Reynolds had to prove he wanted the opportunity more than once, which only fueled his desire for the end goal.
"I really started getting heavily recruited toward the beginning of my senior year, but I committed early after coming here and going to camp three times," said Reynolds. "I think what really made it different was that Coach D (head coach Mark Dantonio) didn't just offer me the scholarship off the rip. He made me come back to their elite camp on three separate occasions, compete and do different stuff and really invest. He wanted to see how bad I wanted it and it just said something to me about him and the program, so I decided to come here after that."
Reynolds has had an interesting career at Michigan State as he has seen action on both sides of the line of scrimmage. He made the permanent move to the defense entering the 2012 season, and feels lucky to be playing among some of the nation's best.
"I just want to be selfless and a guy that works hard."
"It's great to know that you're a part of a defense that's been nationally recognized for the last five years," Reynolds said. "I love the intensity on defense and the fun that we have. I get to play with some great guys and I've gotten to play with a lot of great players that went on to the NFL. It took me basically a year and a half to break my offensive habits in terms of my steps and stuff to get over here and being switched back and forth so many times, it kind of messed with me. I kind of went through an identity crisis for about a year, but it's been a humbling experience to say the least and it's taught me how to overcome adversity."
With his position uncertain for the past few seasons, Reynolds has focused and developed the role he wants to play on the team, no matter what direction he's headed.
"I just want to be selfless and a guy that works hard," said Reynolds. "I don't have too much control over what people say about me. All I can do is make sure that I can be honest with myself when I say that I worked hard and that I gave it all that I had. I always say it's only a loss if you didn't learn anything from it, so I try to make everything into a lesson instead of a loss. I just want to be that guy that worked really hard and helped the team get back to the Rose Bowl."
No one can deny Reynolds' selflessness in light of his most recent experience as he was the first on the scene to a nearby shooting of a local teen. Though he claims the circumstances played more of a role as he was "just in the right place at the right time", his actions in the heat of the moment spoke more to his character. However, the experience left quite a mark on Reynolds and a lasting impression of the relationships he's made as a Spartan.
"It was a humbling experience," Reynolds said. "When it first happened, I was very shook up for a while. I didn't realize how much it got to me until we got into camp. It was running through my mind every other minute throughout the day and I was getting flashbacks. When we were doing a cardio test, it really got to me when I saw one of my teammates on the ground and he was clutching himself and having a really difficult time. It just threw me back to that night because the kid was doing the exact same thing, except that he was gushing blood everywhere. I kind of broke down for a minute because it just hit me. It had an effect on me for a while, but I think it's all for the better now. I'm just glad he's ok and doing well, but it made me really grateful for everything that I have."
The experience not only gave Reynolds a deeper perspective on his own life, but also strengthened his appreciation for the brotherhood he shares with his teammates.
"That's one thing about this program, it's a family," said Reynolds. "Whether we have a problem on or off the field, you have people you can talk to here. Unlike other teams that I've played on, there's not been a chemistry like there is on this team where you literally feel like everybody's your brother. It's different. It's a special type of program here. It's great to be able to have people you can go to at any time."
Nonetheless, Reynolds leads by example and his fellow Spartans know that he will help his team in any way, by any means necessary. Despite being quiet by nature, his actions, especially those toward a perfect stranger for which he helped save, speak much louder than words. Though he was in the right place at the right time that evening, it was his instinct to stop and act that truly speaks to his character on and off the field.
GETTING TO KNOW Micajah Reynolds:
Major: Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science - Human Capital and Society
Favorite Food: "Chicken fettuccini alfredo, but it's got to be done right. The sauce has to be on point."
Favorite Class: "Race and Ethnicity with Dr. Cliff Browman. It's supposed to be one of the hardest classes here, but I took it anyway. I learned a lot from it."
Favorite Movie: "Remember the Titans. I can literally recite the entire movie, line-by-line. I love that movie, I've watched it a hundred times."
This feature was originally published in the Aug. 30 issue of Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine.