Andrew Pendy: Hard Work Paying Off
Oct. 28, 2009
By Matt Haas, MSU Athletic Communications Student Assistant
Football is seen as the ultimate game of hard work and dedication.
For Michigan State, fifth-year senior walk-on Andrew Pendy personifies the hard work and dedication needed to compete at the collegiate level.
Pendy's hard work started before he set foot on the Michigan State campus and decided to walk-on to the football team. Unlike some of his Spartan teammates, who were touted as stud football players since their freshman years of high school, Pendy did not start for his varsity football team at Utica Eisenhower until his junior year.
In fact, for years Pendy considered basketball to be his best sport. On the hardcourt, Pendy was a three-year starter who would go on to average 16.2 points and 5.2 assists and earn first-team all-league honors as a senior.
But his hard work and persistence was also starting to pay off on the football field. Pendy led the county in tackles as a junior and garnered first team all-league, all-county and All-East honors as a senior. Pendy was also named an honorable mention all-state selection and started gathering interest from smaller schools who wanted him to play football. But Pendy decided against pursuing that route and chose instead to try and walk-on to the MSU football team his freshman year in East Lansing.
"When I first decided to walk-on to the football team, I expected that it would take a lot of hard work, dedication and persistence to complete my career here playing football," Pendy said.
Pendy made the team his freshman year and was redshirted by then head coach John L. Smith. During his redshirt season Pendy focused on gaining weight and learning how the game would be played at the collegiate level.
"When you come in as a freshman the game is completely different," said Pendy. "The game is so much faster than what it was in high school. Everyone is so much bigger and stronger so you really have to go out there and work as hard as you can to compete."
Pendy was assigned to the defensive scout team as a linebacker, a team that he would be a member of for the next four seasons of his collegiate career.
"Being on the scout team definitely prepares you for the college game and makes you a better player," Pendy said. "But it's also difficult working your way up because you start toward the bottom and have to keep working your way up."
During his red-shirt freshman season in 2006, Pendy was named Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week vs. Purdue when he helped the Spartan offense prepare for a tough Boilermaker defense.
"It's always nice to receive personal awards like that," Pendy said. "But football is a team sport, so it's nice to see that you're being recognized for what you're doing to help the team."
Pendy's sophomore year in 2007 was a season of adjustment as he and the rest of the Spartans were learning new head coach Mark Dantonio's playbook. But Pendy continued to work hard for Coach Dantonio and his staff and set himself up for a very successful junior campaign.
Pendy's junior season started out on a high note as he was named Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week during the first week of the season against California. Pendy continued his strong play for the scout team defense for the next two weeks and was eventually rewarded by Coach Dantonio and staff when he was able to step on a collegiate field for the first time as part of the Spartans' special teams unit against Notre Dame.
"Stepping on to the field that first time and playing that first game has to be one of the highlights of my career," Pendy said. "The most rewarding thing is that you know, after all of the hard work, that you finally reached the point where you get to contribute."
And contribute is exactly what Pendy did. Pendy recorded a tackle against Indiana in his second game and became a fixture on the Spartans' special team unit for the remainder of the season, competing in the final 10 games of the season.
In addition to his new role as a special teams performer, Pendy continued to help the Spartans as a member of the Scout Team Defense. He took home two more Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week laurels (vs. Iowa and Purdue) and eventually won the 2008 Jim Adams Award, which is given to the unsung hero of the Spartan football team.
"It was nice to be recognized, especially for something like that," Pendy said. "The Jim Adams Award usually goes to one of the hardest workers on the scout team so it was an honor to receive it. Finally, all of your hard work is being recognized."
But Pendy's hard work was hardly done. In spring ball the coaches approached Pendy about making a switch to the offensive side of the ball where he would compete for playing time at fullback.
"It was a lot of work because playing fullback is a lot different than playing defense," Pendy said. "But, I think I understand the offensive side a little better. It's a little easier at fullback than at linebacker in terms of your assignment."
This season - his last wearing the Green and White - Pendy has seen action in every game, splitting time with Andrew Hawken at fullback. But there's still a lot of hard work to be done before he hangs up his jersey for the final time.
Knowing Andrew Pendy, he wouldn't want it any other way.
GETTING TO KNOW Andrew Pendy
Hometown: Shelby Township, Mich.
This feature was originally published in the Oct. 17 edition of Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine.
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