EAST LANSING – Since the end of last season, Mel Tucker and co. have worked hard to reshape Michigan State's roster.
The second-year coach has been active in the transfer portal.
Six new players joined the Spartans in January alongside four early enrollees from the 2021 class, including defensive end Drew Jordan (Duke), quarterback Anthony Russo (Temple), running back Kenneth Walker III (Wake Forest), safety Kendall Brooks (North Greenville), offensive lineman Jarrett Horst (Arkansas State), walk-on defensive back Spencer Rowland (Wheaton College), tight end Kameron Allen, quarterback Hampton Fay, offensive lineman Ethan Boyd, and safety Michael Gravely Jr.
"We're not here just to collect players; we're here to build a team," Tucker said in a videoconference. "That's very important; team chemistry is a big part of the game of football."
Michigan State is coming off a 2-5 season with plenty of disruptions due to the pandemic; meanwhile, roster attrition has been in full swing.
Since mid-November, MSU has lost 17 players to the portal, and aside from the six individuals who arrived earlier this year, the Spartans have six other commitments from athletes in the portal. They are expected to join the program by summer.
"You have to have good players to have a chance to compete and win games in this conference and beyond," said Tucker. "It's the Jimmys and the Joes; it's not the Xs and the Os."
Tucker's commitment to overhauling MSU's roster and providing depth at different positions has pushed his team.
Drew Beesley spent four years behind a talented defensive line before starting all seven games in 2020. The sixth-year senior is competing alongside Jordan, a grad transfer whose immediately eligible to play and already turning up the heat in spring practice.
"It's definitely different with the new faces … definitely a high level of competition, which is a good thing," Beesley said.
The NFL coaching veteran has embraced the portal, consistently calling it a "viable option" to improve teams around the country.
It's a part of his coaching philosophy, and it's evident to his players.
"In this age, you've got to be able to compete, and coach Tuck's going to bring in guys that ultimately can help us," redshirt senior Connor Heyward said. "I believe all the guys that we brought in can definitely help this team in a lot of different ways ... Even if we've got guys at those positions, you need depth in this league."
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