Dec. 25, 2012
By Steve Grinczel, Online Columnist
TEMPE, Ariz. - Although Tyler Hoover has played in just 36 games during his five-year Michigan State football career, he could distinguish himself from all other Spartans by the time he leaves head coach Mark Dantonio's program.
If Hoover successfully petitions the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility due to missing nearly all of the 2008 and '11 seasons because of injury, he will return for one more run in '13.
Former MSU running back Duane Goulbourne spent six years in the program from 1991-96, as well.
However, as a part of Dantonio's second recruiting class, Hoover was one of the first prospects to graduate from high school in the middle of his senior year to enroll early at MSU so he'd be able to participate in spring drills.
That means if everything goes according to plan, Hoover will have spent more time playing football for MSU than any other player in school history.
He isn't sure if his parting gift will be a walker or full set of dentures if his final down as a Spartan comes in a bowl game a year from now, but he's fine either way.
"I love the program, so I can't get enough of it," Hoover said. "If this works out, it would mean I made it through and I'm still alive, so life's good."
In the meantime, Hoover is scheduled to start at defensive tackle, after playing most of his career as a defensive end, against TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
"I know the ropes, I know the coaches, I know what kind of people they are, I know the program, I know the schedule," Hoover said. "But when you think about it, I've only played a total amount of two-and-a-half seasons of actual game play. I look at this as just getting my actual years in at Spartan Stadium."
Defensive line coach Ted Gill is looking forward to getting a player with so much institutional knowledge at his disposal.
"He's still learning a lot of things about playing inside, but he's a guy who's been in our defense a long time," Gill said. "He's a smart guy who can do some different things in our defense. He knows when to do certain things and when not to do certain things.
"You don't often get the luxury of having a guy who's played in your defense for such a long time."
GoG Notes & Quotes: Arizona Cardinals quarterback Brian Hoyer, who played for the Spartans from 2005-08, watched MSU's practice from the sideline Tuesday. It was the first time he saw his old team in action since guiding Michigan State against Georgia in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2009.
"It brings back memories, for sure," Hoyer said. "The thing I miss the most is the guys I was with and these coaches. When you go to the pros, guys have families so it's not like you're hanging with your boys all the time.
"The camaraderie and having a roommate and those kinds of things are what made college so much fun. In college, you're limited on time because you have to go to class and things like that. When it's your career and your craft, you have a lot more time to focus on it.
"That's the biggest difference between collegiate football and getting paid to do it."
After leaving MSU, Hoyer joined the New England Patriots as a free agent and spent three seasons backing up Tom Brady. He spent a brief stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this season and was picked up by Arizona before the 12th game.
He saw his first action as a Cardinal last week in the second half against the Chicago Bears and completed 11-of-19 passes for 105 yards and one interception.
"I'm only signed to the end of this year, but I'm excited about being here," he said.
Cornerback Johnny Adams was limited during Tuesday's practice because of a turf toe injury, but he's expected to return to full practice on Wednesday.