By Grace Amberg, MSU Athletic Communications Intern
The journey hasn’t always been easy for senior defensive tackle Devyn Salmon. After his freshman season, he took on a new role as a center on the offensive line and for a moment, everything felt stalled. Though it has been a theme throughout his life, Salmon had to remind himself that he was never going to give up his dream of success.
“Freshman year, when I got moved to offensive line, I gave up on myself as a football player because I knew that my football career was going to be on hold,” Salmon said. “I had to switch to a whole new position that was already stacked.”
The Plant City, Florida, native refused to let his doubts win. Salmon put in the time and hard work, earning his first varsity letter in his junior season. At center, Salmon played a season-high 20 snaps vs. Rutgers on Nov. 12, 2016. In that same game, Salmon also saw action on the defensive line, showing off his versatility. His reward for his patience came when he moved back to the more familiar defensive line permanently after the 2016 season.
“It felt like a dream come true,” Salmon said. “I felt like I was better off as a defensive guy. When I got moved to the offensive line, I had never played offense a day in my life before, and it was very difficult for me. Coming back to the defensive line, I felt like it was a better move for me. Now that I’m back on the defensive line, I’m a better leader now. This being my fifth season, I played my role until eventually it was my time.”
Salmon picked up football in his freshman year at Plant City High School. Over the years, the defensive tackle has come to appreciate the many life lessons the game teaches that translate into everyday life as well.
“I learned responsibility,” Salmon said. “A lot of people don’t know, but I have two kids. It taught me responsibility, and the morals of being a man. It showed me toughness. It showed me everything I want to instill in my two children.”
Over the five years that Salmon has been a Spartan, his transformative experience helped mature him on and off the field. The defensive tackle pointed to his commitment to Michigan State as a major turning point in his life.
“It means everything; it means opportunity,” Salmon said. “Coming to Michigan State was one of the best things ever. It changed me from a 17-year old boy to a 22-year old man. All the life lessons I’ve learned have been amazing. This school has showed me so much. It made me a better father, student and man by coming here. The tough talks I’ve had with Coach Mannie, Coach Dantonio and with my position coaches have made me a stronger man. It made me a stronger player and a better player. ”
Not only did Salmon find his place on the Spartan defensive line, but he also found a comfortable place in the classroom. Changing majors from packaging to communication, finally he enrolled in a course on sociology, and just like that, the defensive tackle was hooked.
“Ever since I took that course, it ventured me off deeper and deeper into sociology, and I just fell in love,” Salmon said. “It was very versatile. It was different. Not a lot of people want to study interactions with people. I thought it was very interesting. I thought of the insides and outs and how it can better me to be a very social person, and I just ran with it.”
Salmon already completed his degree in May of this year, and though there is football left to be played, his goals are set for when the time comes to hang up his Green and White jersey for the last time.
“I want to venture off into the world,” Salmon said. “I plan on doing Pro Day and after that, seeing where everything takes me. I’m going to look for an internship toward the end of the season so I can have a plan A, plan B and plan C.”
There is no question that Salmon worked extremely hard to get to this point, and he maintains that it’s all due to a little perseverance when it would have been so much easier to walk away.
“Never giving up is something that was always instilled in me as a young child,” Salmon said. “I thought, ‘Would I want my kids to give up? If times are hard now, would I want my children to see me give up?’ I just persevered through.”