May 14, 2014 - This month Kyler Elsworth will have made two life-changing walks.
First, he joined a few thousand classmates and received his bachelor's degree from Michigan State University. The euphoria will certainly continue this weekend when the Goodrich Martian turned MSU Spartan will walk into an NFL training camp.
On Sunday afternoon following the 2014 NFL draft, Elsworth, a 2009 Goodrich High School graduate, was playing video games with his brother.
"My agent Steve Siegel called me and said the Washington Redskins were interested in having me come to their mini camp," he said. "Then a coach from the team called me and discussed what was going on and what to expect at the camp. I also received calls from the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots, but I declined since the Redskins called me first."
"I feel good right now," he added. "There are a few nerves, but that's a good thing, that will just make me play better. I called my mom and texted my MSU coach Mark Dantonio. He told me to not get discouraged and that I earned the chance to make it in the NFL—that's how I made the team at State and that's how I can make it in the pros."
The former MSU linebacker will try out as a fullback/special teams player.
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. Elsworth, at 6'1", 235-pounds, was a fifth-year senior for the Michigan State Spartans. He played in all the MSU games while on the team, mostly on special teams and some at the linebacker position
Following the suspension of All-American senior MSU linebacker Max Bullough, Elsworth was called upon to start the Rose Bowl game against No. 5 Stanford. His first career start for the Green and White would be to lead the best defense in the country into the Rose Bowl. On New Year's Day 2014, Elsworth stuffed Stanford fullback Ryan Hewitt on a fourth-and-short and sealed a Rose Bowl victory for Michigan State (13-1) 24-20 over Stanford (11-3) with more than 95,000 in attendance at the Rose Bowl, in Pasadena, Calif.
The now famous leap at the Rose Bowl propelled Elsworth into the national media and now hopefully on to the NFL stage.
If he gets a shot Elsworth would be a backup to current Redskins fullback Darrel Young, who has been with the team since the 2009 season.
The Redskins finished with a record of 3-13 for the 2013 season and fired coach Mike Shanahan, who was replaced by Jay Gruden.
"I've never played fullback—only in high school football— they need a backup," he said. "On Thursday, I'll fly to Washington, D.C. and have a series of physicals to make sure I'm in good shape. I just spent 10 weeks of training at Power MMA and Fitness in Gilbert, Ariz. gaining about 18 pounds, I built some muscle mass. Then on Friday and Saturday there's two-a-day practices, there's no pads, just helmets. They want to see if you can catch the ball and run plays. It's football. Regardless, I'll have to learn the offense. It will get my foot in the door—I may not stay at fullback, but it's an opportunity. This camp will not include any of the veteran players, it's just for undrafted free agents."
Elsworth contacted former MSU and now Redskin quarterback Kirk Cousins after hearing the news.
"Kirk let me know what to expect," he said. "I know it's going to be a lot faster—it's the best of the best in football. I'm interested to see where I stack up with professional players. I have my college degree and have a chance at playing football. I'll give this a try and see where it takes me."
Elsworth has a degree in zoology and plans on a career in the medical field.