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Heisman Trophy Odds Released for Michigan State QB Aidan Chiles

The Spartans' new signal-caller has not yet started a game in collegiate career, but the buzz he's generated in East Lansing is palpable...

Although he's yet to start a game in his collegiate career or secure the starting job in East Lansing, Michigan State quarterback Aidan Chiles is already generating a lot of buzz with the Spartans. The rising sophomore got his feet wet backing up D.J. Uiagalelei at Oregon State last season, and followed head coach Jonathan Smith and offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren to MSU this offseason.

"It's huge," Lindgren said Monday about Chiles choosing to follow the staff to East Lansing. "Bringing Aidan over, just having worked with him for a year and having gone through a season with him and having experience in what we do is huge."

Although spring practice has not yet begun, Chiles is the heavy favorite to win the Spartans' starting quarterback position. He's also the only player on Michigan State's roster to be included in Circa Sports' early Heisman Trophy odds ahead of spring. Chiles (+15000) lands in the 11th tier of all candidates for college football's most prestigious award, and is tied for 29th among quarterbacks according to oddsmakers.

While it would be wildly unrealistic to expect a Heisman Trophy-caliber season out of Chiles in his first season at MSU, there's good reason for the hype surrounding the Spartans' new quarterback. He was a four-star recruit and the crown jewel of Smith's final recruiting class at Oregon State. In nine games for the Beavers this past season, Chiles threw for 309 yards and four touchdowns while completing 24-of-35 pass attempts, without an interception. The freshman added 79 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on 17 carries.

"Aidan's got a really cool personality," Lindgren said. "Something that we're always looking for recruiting a QB is that moxy, that 'it' factor. He's got that confidence, that kind of swagger to the way that he plays. He does a really nice job of, when he does make a mistake, flushing that play and moving on to the next. When he gets hot and getting going, he's one of the more talented guys I've been around.

"Infectious personality about the way he carries himself on the field...he's pretty special that way. The really big-time, talented guys that I've been around all had that characteristic and Aidan's got that."

While Chiles played behind Uiagalelei last season, he was talented enough that Smith and Lindgren wanted to get him on the field as often as they could. That was a special circumstance, however, and Lindgren would prefer to settle on one quarterback this season at MSU.

"It's not ideal. Last year was a pretty unique circumstance," Lindgren said. "We had D.J. who ended up winning the job, tons of experience, veteran guy. And then we had Aidan who we felt was just a special talent as a young guy and wanted to keep him coming along. We did give him a series in each game and he ran with it, did a nice job.

"Ultimately, for me, having played the position, you want to pick a guy and let him get into the rhythm of the game and let him know that it's his. Each year is unique, and you can't speak to it now on what's going to be but, ultimately, I think you're picking a guy and letting him run."

Michigan State football will have an entirely new-look offensive scheme and a lot of new personnel when it takes the field this fall, and no where is that more of a reality than at the quarterback position.

All three of the Spartans' signal-callers from a year ago are continuing their college careers elsewhere, leading Smith and Lindgren to totally rebuild Michigan State's quarterback room. In addition to Chiles, MSU added fellow transfer Tommy Schuster and high school prospects Alessio Milivojevic and Ryland Jessee. Schuster brings a ton of experience to East Lansing after starting all four of his prior seasons at North Dakota (FCS). He'll provide Chiles with plenty of competition when spring practice gets underway on March 19.

"We've got four other guys that the system is totally new, so we're catching those guys up," Lindgren said, referring to his other quarterbacks. "It's awesome to have a young guy that's got experience and it will put [Chiles] quite a bit ahead."

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