Nov. 21, 2012
Peter Badovinac didn't transfer from Drake University to Michigan State expecting to be the starting quarterback for the Spartans. All he knew was that he wanted to be a part of a big-time Division I football program.
But first, he had to get to know his new teammates.
"The first night I didn't know anyone's name, so I went online and started flipping through the program to try and get everyone's names down," said Badovinac, who spent two seasons at Drake in Des Moines, Iowa, before arriving on the campus of MSU in 2010.
It didn't take long for him to get acclimated to the family atmosphere surrounding the Skandalaris Football Center.
"It only took a couple of weeks, which I think is pretty quick, before I felt like I was a part of the team and one of the guys," he commented. "I've felt that way ever since. Every time there's a new guy to the program, I try to make them feel the same way, because that was the boat I was in."
A native of Inverness, Ill., Badovinac was a three-year starting quarterback for Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill., and was named the Chicago Catholic League Offensive Player of the Year as a senior in 2007 after throwing for more than 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Badovinac redshirted at Drake, a Football Championship Subdivision school, in 2008 before playing in five games for the Bulldogs in 2009. He then picked the perfect time to transfer to East Lansing, as the Spartans posted back-to-back, school-record 11-wins seasons in 2010 and 2011.
"I was looking for the best football experience I could possibly get," said Badovinac on his decision to attend MSU. "Michigan State was a place I always really liked. I wanted to come here and compete with the best players in the country. It couldn't have worked out any better.
"It's been a phenomenal experience and I've enjoyed every bit of it. We have
a great group of guys. It's fun coming to practice every day and hanging out with
the guys on the field and in the locker room. Getting to know each and every
guy - there's just so many different personalities on the team. I really didn't know
how that would be coming in here late, but I made a lot of friends really quickly,
and they're friends I'll hopefully have forever."
Badovinac saw game action last season against Florida Atlantic and Indiana, a reward for his efforts on the unheralded - but vital - scout team.
"I think it's tough for some people on the outside to know we have more than 100 guys on the team, and only about 60 of them play on game day," he said. "Every guy has a different role. I try to embrace that role, as tough as it is sometimes. It's an uphill battle, but you keep coming every day, you keep showing up, and good things will happen. It's one of the mottos my roommates and I live by. And it's fun to come out on Saturday."
Badovinac, who owns a 3.87 GPA, will graduate from the Broad College of Business in December with a degree in general management. His true passion, however, is football - something he hopes to continue to stay involved with following his playing days at MSU.
"I want to stay in college football - my goal is to get a graduate assistant position after this season in January," he said. "I see how many hours the GA's work (at MSU), and I really appreciate it. At the same time, my dad always told me to do something that I love, and I love football. I don't know if that would even be like working. I grew up with my dad working 13 hour days in the manufacturing world, so what's the difference if you're doing 13 hours of football?"
The sport of football is definitely a family affair for the Badovinac's. During the bye week, Peter drove nine hours to see his brother, Dan, play his final college football game for Division III Loras (Iowa) College. Peter's parents, Dan and Laurie, have split games this season between Loras and Michigan State, but will be in attendance for the Spartans' final two regular-season games, including today's Senior Day contest against Northwestern.
As is tradition under MSU head coach Mark Dantonio on Senior Day, the parents of the players will be with their sons on "The Walk" over to Spartan Stadium from the Kellogg Center. Upon arrival to the stadium, all of the players and parents will lock arms and march the length of the field, heading from the north end zone to the south end zone. After coming together for a huddle, Badovinac has plans for his senior sendoff.
"When my dad comes on the field before the game, I want to have a last catch with him on the Spartan Stadium field," he said. "My dad hasn't been down there before. All those nights in the backyard, or in the garage, or in the gym playing catch, going all the way back to third grade, to have that one last catch with my dad in Spartan Stadium will be really cool."
It's a moment that will undoubtedly make all of the sacrifices Badovinac has made on the practice field the past three years as a scout team player worthwhile.
By Ben Phlegar, Michigan State Athletic Communications. This feature was originally published in the Nov. 17 edition of Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine.