Nov. 27, 2007
By Teddy Newton, MSU Sports Information Student Assistant
Any football coach will tell you that a team with powerful running backs, a cannon-armed quarterback and speedster wide receivers won't be able to accomplish a thing if their offensive line doesn't perform with consistency game in and game out.
With one of the most explosive offensive attacks in the country, Michigan State has been blessed with all of those traits, and senior offensive lineman Mike Gyetvai has provided the kind of consistency and attitude that make him just as valuable as any member of the Spartans' offensive attack.
Gyetvai, a native of Old Castle, Ontario, entered the 2007 season with a reputation as a reliable, consistent performer on the line. He had graded out at over 90 percent for his career. Perhaps more important though, is the intangibles he brought not only onto the Spartan Stadium gridiron, but onto the practice field and into film sessions.
"What Mike has brought, maybe even more important than his consistency, to this group is experience and a true love for the game," said offensive line coach Dan Roushar. "He's a guy that has come off of a serious shoulder injury a year ago, rehabilitated and trained hard to get back on the field. It's almost immeasurable what he has been able to do for our group."
Gyetvai's love for the game of football and his teammates on the offensive line is perhaps most evident when asked about his favorite memory at Michigan State. Gyetvai doesn't opine about a big victory or a touchdown where he pancaked a defensive end to create running room for Javon Ringer or Jehuu Caulcrick, he talks about events and days that only those within the Spartan football program can talk about.
"It's hard to pinpoint any one thing, but I'd definitely say my most memorable moment has been just playing with the guys on the offensive line," Gyetvai said. "They're a great bunch of guys. It doesn't matter if we've won or lost, we come out here everyday, laugh, and have a good time. Some of the days that you'll always remember will be those summer conditioning days when you're running gassers. You come out here during summer camp when it's 95 degrees out and there's a heat warning; I think those are the days that you remember most."
Gyetvai will be one of four offensive linemen playing their last game in Spartan Stadium against Penn State this afternoon. Gyetvai and fellow seniors Pete Clifford, John Masters and Kenny Shane have provided the Spartans more than just proficiency in the trenches in their final college season and the fruits of their labor will be felt long after their time in East Lansing has ended.
"Those guys have been huge; they've just been phenomenal in their preparation," Roushar said. "It's been a tremendous asset to our younger players to watch them do those things."
With the shift on emphasis from passing to running in Michigan State's offense this past year, some have thought that the line has had to pick up an entirely new system. Gyetvai said that the shift hasn't been as drastic as some have made it out to be.
"We kind of ran a lot of the same stuff last year, there just wasn't the same emphasis on it," Gyetvai said. "It hasn't been as big of a transition as people have made it out to be."
Gyetvai himself may be making a big transition in his life over the next year. He isn't lacking options at this point, as the 2004 Academic All-Big Ten selection is finishing up a degree in mechanical engineering. In addition, Gyetvai was drafted third overall by the Calgary Stampeders in the 2007 Canadian Football League Draft.
"I'm looking to move on to something better with that degree," Gyetvai said. "I think that my football days are probably done. I'm getting a little too old and sore to be doing this stuff."
Should he choose to take his football career north of the border, Gyetvai would be the second member of his family to play in the CFL. Mike's brother Dan played four seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
"My brother has told me (the CFL) is a lot like college football except there's no class, so that kind of appeals to me," Gyetvai said with a smile. "But I'll have to see if my body can handle another year of football."
Whether his body lets him play some football in his native country, or he decides to devote his focus to engineering work, you can bet that Mike Gyetvai will be a consistent, reliable and enthusiastic performer regardless of location or profession.
Feature originally published in Spartan Sports Zone Magazine vs. Penn State