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Martian turned Spartan stepping up for junior year

October 10, 2012 - The best is yet to come.

That's how Kyler Elsworth, a 6-1, 220 pound 2009 Goodrich High School graduate, views the remainder of the Big 10 season as a key member of the 2012 Michigan State Spartans.

"As a second year player I'm more confident out there with teammates, especially now at middle linebacker where I have to be more vocal," said Elsworth.

"It's like the quarterback of the defense. I know what I'm supposed to do—I know the big picture. Coach says, 'It's a puzzle during the game, you know what you should do to get the job done.'"

A wrestling stand-out as a Martian—his stellar wrestling career featured a school record 232 wins, along with two individual state titles and two team state crowns, stepped away from his years as a Martian grappler for a shot at Division I college football at MSU in 2009.

Elsworth, who had taken aim at linebacker on defense or fullback on offense for the Green and White when he walked on for Spartan Head Coach Mark Dantonio. Elsworth was a red-shirt freshman at MSU in 2009 on the practice teams in his first year then made all the special teams—kick off, kick return, punt block, all the returns. Despite full wrestling scholarship offers at Indiana University, the University of North Carolina, and Michigan State University, as well as a handful of partial scholarships, including the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Elsworth opted to step off the mat and onto the green field of Spartan Stadium.

Elsworth played in all the MSU games in 2011, mostly on special teams and some at the linebacker position. He was named the Big Ten special teams player of the week after a second quarter punt block that was recovered for a touchdown as the Michigan State Spartans went on to slip by then-No. 4 Wisconsin, 37-31 during a game last year. That same year he was given a scholarship at MSU.

"I'm getting more playing time on the defense and special teams," said Elsworth. "We've had a good season, but we're just not getting it done so far. The best is yet to come for Michigan State—at times we've not been firing on all cylinders. Coach reminded us that we as a team have not had that one defining moment in a game."

Elsworth said there's plenty of parity in the Big 10 this year.

"You can't look past any team in the Big Ten," he said. "We trailed in the Indiana game at halftime. Coach asked the team, 'Do we want to be remembered as a team that backs down or one that plays like Spartans?' We returned in the second half and battled and won the game."

Elsworth is majoring in zoology and hopes to apply to medical school following next year as a senior.

"I'd love to go play in the NFL, but when you see the numbers, the odds are not good at making it," he said. "I'm not going to put all my eggs in one basket or the NFL. I'm going to get my education here at MSU—that's top priority now."

Kyler is the son of Richard and Rebecca Elsworth of Goodrich.

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