Nov. 21, 2012
By Aimee Dulebohn, Michigan State Athletic Communications Staff Assistant
Tyler Hoover has had his share of setbacks at Michigan State due to injuries. But as a true Spartan, the Novi, Mich., native has not allowed circumstances keep him down.
Since his initial visit, Hoover knew MSU was the right place for him in terms of his football career and the people he wanted to surround himself with.
"I knew instantly that I wanted to come to Michigan State," said Hoover. "It was just the people. You see Coach (Mark) Dantonio, Coach (Pat) Narduzzi, Coach (Ted) Gill and even the current players and how they were shaped by just one year with Coach `D'. You could tell that everyone was trying to be the best person they could be."
Without question, Hoover has been dedicated to the Spartans. He had a breakthrough season as a sophomore in 2010, starting nine games and collecting a career-high 36 tackles in helping Michigan State win the Big Ten Championship. For his efforts, Hoover earned the Danziger Award, which is given to the team's most outstanding Detroit-area player.
But as a junior, he fractured his rib and missed all but the season opener. Hoover bounced back in spring practice, moving from defensive end to the tackle position. The senior added 25 pounds to his 6-foot-7 frame to adjust to the new role and is excited to be a part of the Big Ten's top-ranked defense.
"We never really bring it up other than that it is the goal to be the best defense," Hoover said. "Just having that goal and it being realistic is something you can take pride in. It's exciting."
Providing the comedic relief for his teammates, Hoover learned a long time ago that he couldn't allow situations to affect his mentality.
"Going through grind days and you're thinking, `wow, this is horrible. Am I ever
going to make it out?'" said Hoover. "Then, my attitude just changed. I'm going
to be happy no matter what. If I can make other people happy and excited about
practice, anything small, makes me happy."
The Spartan Renaissance man, the team comedian also majors in studio art. The son of an artist, Hoover has been exposed to a variety of different types of art throughout his life. His interest in computers, however, drew him to graphic design.
"I instantly picked studio art as a major," Hoover said. "My mom is a pretty big artist, so she has always shown me stuff growing up. Basically when I got into computers, I really liked graphic design and that's what I want to do. Once I saw some of the programs with graphic design and all the stuff I could get involved with, I thought it would be a great plan for me."
A towering figure in his art classes, Hoover definitely raises eyebrows among his classmates and throughout the Spartan football team.
"Going to the classes, people look at me like, `this guy can't do anything,'" said Hoover. "I'm over there painting and I definitely surprise a lot of people. Even the coaches ask me what I do in class. Then I explain the computers and graphics."
For an unlikely artist, his major provides a creative outlet that can allow him to surprise himself with what he can accomplish, including his very own pro-combat football jersey design.
"I definitely can show a different perspective of art," Hoover said. "When I do projects, people see it and have a completely different perspective than what I had. I think my attitude toward any project can express something different each time."
With the experience Hoover has had at Michigan State, he can without a doubt provide insight to the players who come after him.
"I try to tell the younger players to just stay positive," said Hoover. "It's a key thing that I've done my entire career is just keep it going, stay positive, try to smile every day. It's a grind, especially coming from younger players to older and you just wondering `when am I ever going to play?' There's just so much stuff you have to go through. I try to tell them to take the coaching as trying to help you and not harping on you."
Hoover spends extra time in practice to help the younger players on the team, noting their importance to the program once he is gone.
"It's about making connections and helping the younger guys," Hoover said. "That's what really strives the program to keep going. I just try to show them and tell them anything I can."
Even from the sidelines, Hoover has been able to experience some great moments in Spartan football and celebrate with his teammates.
"Beating Michigan at Michigan (in 2010) was a big game for us," Hoover said. "The bowl game against Georgia, coming back in an overtime win; I was hurt, but I was still so excited and so amped for everyone."
Hoover says the philosophy he has learned at Michigan State is not difficult to understand; whether on or off the field, it is a simple mentality to adhere to and pursue.
"We harp on it every day to just do the right thing," said Hoover. "Help people when you can. There are so many simple things that are taught over and over again, where you are just reminded to be a good person, all around. That's basically what it comes down to."
However, it's easy to forget to keep this attitude when you've gone through the injuries that Hoover has during his career. But he undoubtedly persevered to grow into a strong teammate and asset to the team.
"It's all about coming in happy and keeping to the fact that you are still a part of the team," said Hoover, who also missed five games this season due to a calf injury but re-entered the playing rotation in the win at Wisconsin. "If something's hurt, you can always work on something else. If you keep a positive attitude, something good will happen eventually."
Despite everything that has happened during his career at Michigan State, Hoover has kept his head in the right place to take full advantage of the experience and provide for his team in any way he can. No matter how many plays he has on the field, Hoover is happy with what he has been able to get out of his Spartan career.
"It's about the family I've met and the people from before me and after me and the connection with best friends that I've made," Hoover said. "It's an experience of a lifetime. I'm just so happy it happened like this; I couldn't ask for anything better."
This feature was originally published in the Nov. 17 edition of Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine.