Nov. 21, 2012
Jeff Bobek grew up an Iowa Hawkeye fan and always envisioned himself wearing the Black and Gold like his father did, who lettered under legendary coach Hayden Fry in 1980.
But Bobek's football path led him to different colors in East Lansing - something he is grateful for when looking back on his time at Michigan State.
"It's probably been the greatest experience of my life," said Bobek, who plays the role of a fullback and tight end on the scout team. "I've grown a lot since I've had the opportunity to be on this team. I've had a great time and met some of my best friends.
"Although I haven't gotten the opportunity to play, that's not really how you benefit from this. The hard work that I've put in to help the team, to grow myself as a man, has really paid off. I think it's one of the best decisions that I've ever made, to never give up, even though I had times along the way where I could have easily just said, `well, it's been good, but I think this is enough for me.'"
Bobek's career almost never got off the ground. After deciding to attend MSU as a walk-on, he pulled his hamstring during tryouts as a freshman in 2009 and was unable to practice with the team. He had to rehab on his own, and got a second chance during the grueling winder conditioning sessions the following January.
"It was the hardest experience of my life," Bobek said. "But I got through it."
He began practicing in the spring of 2010 and has been with the team ever since. His primary role is to help the defense get ready each and every week for the opponent it will face on Saturday.
"As a fullback, a lot of my blocking is going head to head with guys like William Gholston and Max Bullough," said Bobek. "It's not easy at all. They don't take it easy at practice; they're going their hardest as well.
"There was one play this year where I was iso blocking Max Bullough right up
the A-gap, and we both put our heads down at the same time and hit each other.
It didn't feel too good, but our scout team coach Ryan Manalac was all fired up.
That's the kind of stuff I have to take pride in as a scout team fullback, trying to
simulate the hits that they're going to take in the game."
Bobek's parents, Jeff and Terri - who also lettered at Iowa on the women's basketball team - have put their Hawkeye allegiances to the side as they root for both Jeff at Michigan State and Brian, Jeff's brother, who is a center at Minnesota.
Bobek is scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in supply chain management and will never forget his time as a Spartan.
"I was walking by Spartan Stadium the other day and saw the big plaque outside the press box for the 2010 Big Ten Championship team and saw my name on it," he said. "That kind of struck me. That's going to be there for a long time and I get to be a part of that, even if it's a small impact."
By Ben Phlegar, Michigan State Athletic Communications. This feature was originally published in the Nov. 17 edition of Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine.