Oct. 15, 2013
By Macaulie Fritz, MSU Athletic Communications Student Assistant
Over the past five years, senior Kyler Elsworth has epitomized the MSU philosophy by achieving his dreams through hard work.
As a freshman coming to Michigan State, Elsworth had been offered a scholarship to join the wrestling team, but because of his true passion for the game of football he turned it down. In a leap of faith and a reliance on his work ethic, he decided to become a walk-on under head coach Mark Dantonio.
"It was really a passion of mine," said Elsworth. "Football was really my first love. My family and I made a conscious decision and they backed me 100 percent."
Elsworth's older brother, who played football at Western Michigan, was his biggest influence. The level of success that his brother achieved on the field and in life gave Elsworth the drive to work harder. He was in awe of what his brother accomplished and wanted to be just like him.
"Growing up my brother was like Superman to me," Elsworth said.
Elsworth chose Michigan State over Indiana and North Carolina partly because of how great his visit to East Lansing was, but mainly Elsworth credits his decision to Dantonio.
Elsworth recalled Dantonio saying, "Make the best out of your opportunities. I can't promise you'll get as many opportunities as someone on scholarship, I can't promise you anything, but I can promise you that if you're working hard, if you're doing things correct and you're the best guy out there, then you'll be the guy playing on Saturdays."
"This was an honest guy, someone you could trust," said Elsworth. "It was really nice to sit down and have that honest talk with him. I really respected him for that."
His relationships with the other coaches are much the same. He has gone to them for advice on football, school, relationships or just life in general. Elsworth stated that to him coaches Brad Salem and Dave Warner are his mentors.
Due to his status as a walk-on, Elsworth knew that he was going to have to work three times as hard to be on the turf. His hard work and efforts paid off and before the first game in 2011 he was awarded a scholarship.
"I stepped up and made some plays," Elsworth said. "I had some opportunities to make some big plays and took those opportunities and made those plays. I think they really stepped out on a limb and gave me an opportunity and said you proved yourself last year, keep up the good work."
Elsworth continued to prove himself through perseverance and earned a solid position on special teams where his talent has made a difference at critical times during the games. The most pivotal example came when he blocked a punt during the Wisconsin game in 2011.
With his time at MSU coming to an end, Elsworth knows what value he'd like to leave with his team.
"If there was one thing, it would probably be hard work," said Elsworth. "That's literally what has gotten me as far as I am today. I came in with the mindset that I am a walk-on; I'm going to have to bust my butt for everything that I get."
The senior has also noticed personal changes during his five years on the team and at Michigan State.
"Besides physical, I'd say the biggest change, I know it's kind of cliché and everyone says it, but you really grow from a young boy or a young man to a grown man when you're here," Elsworth said. "I think you learn a lot of those things in life from playing football, like hard work, not making excuses, stepping up and taking responsibility. I've really just grown as a person, as an athlete, and as a man."
Some other changes Elsworth has made are in his major. From biological sciences to chemistry and finally to zoology, Elsworth has decided he wants to follow in his father's footsteps to become a doctor. His love for animals helped with the decision to make the final major change to zoology. He knew it would be another place where he had to put in the hard work, but that never deterred him.
In addition to his aspirations to attend medical school, Elsworth also set a goal to be a team leader for the Spartans. It is a goal he has met, although without much fuss. He has the respect of the team and the coaches and he hopes to help the team in any way he can this season. Specifically he wants to help lead them to the Big Ten Championship and to the Rose Bowl.
The brotherhood and camaraderie of the team are very important to Elsworth. Spending so much time with his teammates has formed lifelong bonds that are beyond just friendship. When Elsworth and the rest of the team have some down time from the grinding schedule that is laid out for them, they don't really want to do anything. When they get home, he said that they like to just watch movies, hang out and eat. Times like that, the joking around in the locker room and the rides home on the bus, are what Elsworth believes built that camaraderie.
"The friendships that you really build here, they last forever," Elsworth said. "You spend five years of your life with these guys. You get to know them and they get to know you."
Elsworth claims that the relationships built are what he is going to miss the most once he graduates. He hopes to keep in contact with all of the guys he's been teammates with over the past five years. He even jokes that he might miss the practices and the hard work once his college career is over.
"Even now I know I'm going to miss getting up at 5:50 a.m. and lifting with my teammates," said Elsworth. "But I mean you're always going to be a Spartan for life."
This feature was originally published in the Oct. 12 edition of Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine.