Paul Jorgensen has grown up 10 minutes away from Spartan Stadium, so when the offensive line prospect from DeWitt started drawing the attention of Michigan State coaches, he knew the recruiting process was right on track. But in order to obtain a Spartan scholarship offer, Jorgensen had to digest some constructive criticism.
"I went to two of their camps last year and they told me I was a little undersized still weight wise, but they'd keep me on their board," he told Spartan Nation.
So after an intense offseason, Jorgensen went for a visit to MSU earlier this year, around the time of spring practice, and his presence caught the eyes of the coaching staff.
"I had been playing basketball, AAU basketball, in the spring the past three or four years. This year I decided not to play and I've put on 20-25 pounds, and I think that's kind of what they wanted to see," Jorgensen said. The young man speaks of his bodily transformation nonchalantly, but building 25 pounds of lean muscle mass is an accomplishment which requires a tremendous amount of concentration and effort.
"I worked out a lot, four days a week, the protein shakes and all that kind of stuff," he said. "I donâ€™t think it was really that difficult for me. What I weighed before was more of an athletic weight with all the running I was doing. Without all the running I was able to easily put on the weight."
Now, at 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds, Jorgensen is being looked at almost exclusively as an offensive line prospect (he plays on the D-line, too, for DeWitt.) While his height seems to indicate the size of a prototypical tackle, coaching staffs tell him ending up on the interior is a possibility as well.
The Spartan coaching staff must have liked what they saw when Jorgensen came lumbering into the practice facility during spring camp, because Jorgensen's lead recruiter, quarterbacks coach Dave Warner, made a trip a few weeks later to see Jorgensen do a full work out.
Soon after a big surprise came for Jorgensen, who calls the subsequent offer he got from MSU a "big deal" that kind of caught him off guard. If an offer were to come, he expected it to come after participating in last weekend's summer camp, not before. But sometime in May, Jorgensen got the call and an MSU offer from head coach Mark Dantonio, a man Jorgensen has come to respect.
"He really knows what he's talking about and he has a lot of things going that are really good," Jorgensen said. "He really is big on respect and he's big on football and that's the kind of coach you want. It goes both ways: you give him respect and he gives you respect right back."
And aside from the personal relationship Jorgensen has forged with Dantonio and the MSU staff, the student-athlete like what he sees from MSU on the field, too. The coach has the full package in Jorgensen's eyes.
"He's a real good coach, obviously," Jorgensen says of Dantonio. "He's brought Michigan State to a couple of bowl games here and he's a real good guy."