Nov. 24, 2010
By Michael Caples, MSU Athletic Communications Student Assistant
When the senior class welcomed their family members onto the Spartan Stadium field for Senior Day, linebacker Eric Gordon was surrounded by his loved ones. However, if MSU security knew that the Gordon family was full of Wolverines, they might not have been admitted.
"Yeah, a lot of my family members were all Michigan fans," Gordon confessed. "My grandpa was on the only one who was a Spartan. My grandma that was married to him actually went to U of M too."
Fortunately for Coach Mark Dantonio and Spartans everywhere, Gordon listened to the lone MSU alumnus in the family. It may have helped that his grandpa was Don Dohoney, a Spartan All-American in 1953, who helped Michigan State win its first Rose Bowl in program history with a 28-20 victory over UCLA on Jan. 1, 1954. Dohoney made sure his grandson was dressed in the right colors.
"He died when I was five years old, but growing up, I just remember him always having his Michigan State hat on, and him and my grandma always giving me Michigan State apparel," said Gordon. "That's just how it kind of got me going, and I've never looked back."
Gordon said his family has grown used to the idea of their son playing for the green and white, as he is proud to claim that he went to "the green side" and brought his family with him.
"Now everyone's pretty much green," the native of Traverse City said. "But I still call my grandparents - my dad's parents went to U of M too - and just give them a little grief. It's just a good feeling when we beat them, it's fun for the family. So many of them went there, I think it's weird for them to actually think, `Oh, we're rooting for the Spartans.' Our grandparents used to always goof around with me when I first signed my letter of intent here."
But the Gordon family can't complain with the way things have turned out for the fifth-year senior. Along with three victories over the Wolverines, Gordon has recorded 321 tackles in his MSU career, which is good for 15th place on the Spartans' all-time list, and second among active Big Ten players. Gordon has started in 38 consecutive games for the Spartans and 47 overall, which ties former tight end Chris Baker for the most starts in program history.
Even though he was a highly-touted recruit coming out of Traverse City West High School, Gordon said he could have never imagined having the success he has earned with the Spartans.
"In high school, the first thing you're thinking is that you just want a scholarship, just give me a scholarship and let me get there," Gordon said. "Then I got here, and I was redshirted, so it was a hard year for me. It was the first year since sixth grade that I wasn't playing. That was tough.
"Then Coach Dantonio comes in, and it just felt like I was new person, just started over. From then on, I never looked back. I always focus on one day at a time, one play at a time, and I've definitely had a lot of fun here. I've met some of my best friends here. So it's everything I could have ever imagined, and more."
One of those best friends happens to be the Spartan that Gordon will forever be linked with. All-America linebacker Greg Jones arrived at MSU in time to spend four years next to Gordon, forming one of the best linebacker duos in Spartan history. No two teammates actively playing college football on an FBS team have more combined tackles than Gordon and Jones' 775 career stops.
"Since he set foot in here on this campus in 2007, we bonded," Gordon said of Jones. "My high school coach is best friends with his high school coach, so I remember when he came on his official visit, I went up to him and started talking to him about his coach, and right there, we just clicked. For three years, we've roomed together in the Kellogg and all the away games.
"We've really gotten to know each other pretty well with our living styles. We're able to talk about anything, football, off the field stuff, and it's been fun playing with him. He's a great player and a great friend."
As Gordon prepared for one more start at Spartan Stadium with Jones, he said he couldn't pick a single game that stood out as his favorite in a MSU jersey.
"I have to say all three of the Michigan games are definitely up there," Gordon said. "Wisconsin in 2008 when Brett Swenson kicked the winning field goal, and Iowa in 2008 when Adam Decker had that fourth-and-one stop; those are ones that come to mind up until now. Every game has been fun and exciting. Hopefully I have a favorite game on January 1 in Pasadena, that's our ultimate goal."
The human resources major will graduate in December, and he said that outside of playing football, he would love to own his own business some day. Gordon's dream job would be to own his own marina, after growing up on a 1973 Glastron Carlson, the boat his dad bought at age 18.
"My whole life, I've had coaching and been yelled at, and I've never been in charge yet. Someday, I want to be in charge," Gordon joked.
But in the meantime, the Spartans' No. 43 has been focused on his final home game in East Lansing.
"I think it will just make me even more excited," Gordon said of Senior Day. "It will be my last time to play in the stadium, so I have to give it my all. I don't want to think that I didn't leave everything on the field."
GETTING TO KNOW Eric Gordon:
FAVORITE PLAY OF HIS CAREER: "When I picked off Matt Ryan (in the 2007 Champs Sports Bowl against Boston College), that was my first interception. I've only had two, but it was my first, and it was probably one of the best rushes I've ever had too."
DREAM JOB, OTHER THAN BEING A FOOTBALL PLAYER: "I would like to win the lottery and not even have to work. Or owning my own marina."
FAVORITE SUPERPOWER: "The first thing I thought of always, I've been asked that before, I thought of being able to read people's minds. But then I think that sometimes I wouldn't want to know what everybody's thinking, so the next thing would be flying."
IF YOU COULD HANG OUT WITH ONE FAMOUS PERSON FOR A DAY, IT WOULD BE: "Jim Carrey - I don't think I would ever stop laughing."
WHO WOULD YOU WANT TO PLAY 1-ON-1 AGAINST IN ANY SPORT? "Sidney Crosby. I'd like to test my talents with him on the ice."
This feature was originally published in the Nov. 20 edition of Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine. Statistics in the story updated following the Purdue game on Nov. 20.