Takeaways from MSU Football at 2022 Big Ten Media Days


Zach Slowik

Michigan State football at 2022 Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis.

Liam Jackson, Sports Editor

INDIANAPOLIS – Big Ten Media Days signal that the college football season is right around the corner. Hope is abundant during this time of year for every college football team and Michigan State is no exception.

Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis was the site of the event on July 26 and July 27. Head coach Mel Tucker, quarterback Payton Thorne, receiver Jayden Reed, and safety Xavier Henderson traveled to Indiana’s capital city as representatives on Wednesday.

“Our goal is to win every game on our schedule,” Tucker said in his opening statement. “Our goal is to finish first. And we need to bring a championship to East Lansing.”

Confidence is crucial and may even be warranted for the Spartans coming off an 11-2 season. However, Tucker was not shy when talking about the needed improvement of the secondary.

“We were last in the country,” Tucker told his defensive backs, “dead-ass last.”

Brandon Jordan and Marco Coleman were brought in as defensive line coaches, leaving a vacancy at cornerback coach. Tucker said he will be stepping into that role. 

The defensive backs on the roster have not changed much from last season. Henderson, along with Angelo Grose, Charles Brantley, Marqui Lowry and Ronald Williams will all be returning this fall.

“There is a chip on their shoulder and then pride kicks in,” Tucker said about his secondary returning. “Our tacking has to improve, our technique and attention to detail.”

College football is changing in terms of NIL and player empowerment. Michigan State was active on both of these fronts since Tucker’s appointment.

“I’m all for NIL,” said Tucker. “I want the players to make what they can make, and we want to help build their brands. That’s our philosophy at Michigan State. I really haven’t seen the downside yet.”

MSU players recently started the East Lansing NIL Club. This club allows exclusive access to players and events to fans who purchase a pass.

“It’s a better way for the fans to really see what we are doing outside of football without giving away too much and it puts a little change in our pockets,” Henderson said about ELNC. “I think that’s what NIL has been. A little bit of money for the players and a good way of connecting, branding and opportunities for players to meet people in business and powerful positions.”

Another topic surrounding Michigan State during Big Ten Media Days was its use of the transfer portal under Tucker.

Tucker compared the current college football landscape and the transfer portal to the NFL.

“We embrace the portal,” he said. “We are going to build through the draft and supplement our roster through free agency. And so the high school ranks for us is the draft and the portal is free agency.”

Other Notes

  • Former Michigan State defensive coordinator and current Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi made comments last week that claimed Michigan State would “get their butts kicked in” if Kenny Pickett played in the Peach Bowl. Tucker was asked if he would like to respond on Wednesday. 

“I really prefer not to get into hypotheticals, especially games that are in the past and were decided on the field,” said Tucker.

  • Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren invited Tucker on a trip from Montgomery to Selma Alabama to learn more about civil rights. 

“I didn’t know as much as I thought that I knew,” Tucker said on his takeaways from the trip. “About the civil rights movement, the right to vote, slavery, Jim Crowe and mass incarceration. It was a life-changing experience.”

  • Players report back to campus on Aug. 3 and practices begin Aug. 4. Michigan State opens its season at home against Western Michigan on Sep. 2.