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Nothing but green

Former Martian part of MSU drive to Big 10 championship team

November 24, 2010 - These days, Kyler Elsworth is seeing plenty of green, white, and playing time— as a Michigan State Spartan. The team is on the cusp of at least a share of the Big Ten Championship.

The 2009 Goodrich High School graduate and wrestling stand-out, whose stellar 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 last year. At 6-foot-1-inch and 215 pounds, Elsworth, who had taken aim at outside linebacker on defense or fullback on offense—when he walked on for Spartan Head Coach Mark Dantonio.

"I was a red-shirt freshman on the practice teams last year," said Elsworth. "I made all the special teams—kick off, kick return, punt block, all the returns. I've played in all the games this year. I knew that I had to prove myself—never lose faith in who I am or that I can do this. This team gave me the strength to make it—they are all something special."

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.

"It's a new experience playing in the Big 10 Conference," said Elsworth, 19, a pre-med sophmore and preferred walk-on player, which guaranteed a spot on the team.

"We're 10-1 going into Penn State for at least a part of the title with a win. The team unity made a big difference. It was real clear how strong this team was when Coach Dantonio had a heart attack—other coaches stepped in and got the job done. There's just a special bond."

"Our biggest win this year was Wisconsin. Of course, beating Michigan was also great."

"It's a big step up to go from a school with a graduating class of about 200 and with 23 varsity players on the football team to a division one college team. Everyone on the team are just great players—consider some of these guys are 6-foot-5 inches, weigh 250 pounds and can run 40 yards in 4.7 seconds."

However, playing against some of the nation's greatest football talent is something to remember.

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

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