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Everything Mel Tucker said after Michigan State's spring game

The head coach discussed a variety of topics as the Spartans concluded spring practice

Michigan State wrapped up spring practice in 2022 with an open practice available for public viewing inside Spartan Stadium on Saturday.

Following the conclusion of practice, which included nine periods of drills and position work, followed by six periods of live scrimmage situations, Spartan head coach Mel Tucker met with the media to discuss the day and the conclusion of spring football.

Opening statement…

"I just want to thank everyone for coming out – the fans were great today. It was good to get back in the Woodshed. It was the first time some of our guys got a chance to actually get in the stadium because we haven't been in there the entire spring, so it was really good.”

"We got a lot of good work in today. Practice 15 – it's was exactly what we expected from our guys, everybody just working hard to get better today. It was a good effort from the guys that were out there."

“We’re banged up, obviously, at the offensive line, but the guys that could play went out there and gave a good effort, and that’s what we wanted to see. So, we’re set up to have a really good summer program and we’re going to have some guys come in in May to join the team. We’ll get some guys healthy, and then we’ll go into fall camp ready to rock and roll.”

“Overall, it was a good day, but I really appreciate all the fans coming out. We started the morning with the Izzo walk, and we had the book drive today, Brenda Tracy was in town – we partnered with her last summer and she’s been really good for our team, helping educate our players, so we got a lot done today.”

On how QBs, WRs looked on a windy day…

“It was good to get out in the elements, and we have to be a weather-proof team, so it was good to get out there in the wind and have to throw the ball around a little bit. It was real interesting to see some of our young guys in the stadium for the first time and in front of the fans for the first time. It took them a little while to settle down, but I was really – they need that experience, and that’s why we want to put them in as many game-like situations as we can. That was as close as we could get today, so it was a good experience for a lot of those young guys.”

On backup quarterback position…

“I don’t have a guy right now, so we’ll just have to go into the summer program and go into fall camp and see how it shakes out.”

On Hamp Fay…

“He’s really grown as a player. I can remember him coming in as a freshman and kind of [being] wide eyed and things were going kind of fast, but things are starting to settle down for him. Jay [Johnson] is doing a really good job with him, and he’s developing. He’s an athletic guy, he’s got good height, he’s got good arm strength, he can run. And you can tell that he’s getting command of our offense, and his confidence is high. I love to see young players develop like that.”

On Noah Kim…

“Noah’s got a lot of arm talent, and he’s grown tremendously since he’s been here. It’s a competitive situation out there. You see Katin and Hamp and Noah out there, and they’re all very talented guys. But I see he’s willing to compete. He can throw it and he knows the system, so it’s just a matter of executing on a high level on a consistent basis.”

On this being a big weekend in recruiting, what he wanted to show recruits on campus…

“We’re showing them a lot of things. The practice was just a part of it. They get a chance to see our coaches coach, they sat in some meetings, just to kind of see how we go about our business, how we run a practice. But, they’re seeing a lot this weekend. We have academic support meetings, player engagement meetings, meeting with our strength and conditioning staff, meeting with our coaches – talking scheme, they meet with me. We’re just putting our best foot forward.”

“All the guys I’ve talked to, and their families, they really liked what they see so far. They really like our staff, they really like our culture. We have a family atmosphere, and when they talk to our players the players tell them it’s really like this. It’s not just a recruiting pitch that you get here. What [the coaches/staff] said they’re going to do is what they’re doing.”

“It’s good. We got a lot of good players here this weekend and we’re going to have a lot of guys in for official visits in June – some of the top players in the country.”

On having an estimated 15,000 fans attend on Easter weekend…

“I think people are excited about our program. This is a football town. Football is very important here at Michigan State, and people like what they see from us, just the way we go about our business and how we handle ourselves. The brand of football that we’ve shown, it resonates with people and that’s what people want to see. They want to see us have success on the field, they want to see us work hard, just grind it out and just a relentless attitude.”

“Like I said, I really appreciate our fans – how they came out today. I knew that they would. I mean, it was good football weather today.”

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On what excites him most about the program right now…

“Our culture is our foundation, and that’s how we live and behave every day. We get the most out of the opportunities we have because of the way we go about our business. It’s a fun group to coach, but I’m really excited about our mental disposition – our mindset towards getting better and not having a sense of entitlement, having a chip on our shoulder and knowing that the behaviors and the actions that we take are going to create the outcomes. And our guys really trust the process, so I’m really excited about the buy-in that we have from our players and all of our staff and our support staff. We’re all moving in the same direction and that’s critically important. Because, if you can do that, and you have a process that you can trust, and you have a good culture, you have good people, then you’re going to have success.”

On where Michigan State has made the most progress this spring…

“We’ve been working hard to become more of a player-led team, as opposed to a coach-led team. That’s been a huge point of emphasis for us, for our guys to hold each other accountable, confront each other, demand that they do things right, and we’ve made some tremendous strides in that area. It’s not something that you can see in a practice like that, but we see it every day in our meeting, and in our walkthroughs, and in the weight room, and in our practices, how guys are stepping up and taking ownership of this football team.”

“The expectations are set. The standards are set. Everyone knows what the deal is, so it’s just a matter of getting it done. It’s not just myself or the coaches pulling guys and dragging guys through a process, guys are embracing the process and pushing each other, holding each other accountable more and more. We’re not where we need to be in that regard, however, we have made some tremendous strides this spring.”

On meeting one-on-one with players, and how roster could evolve between now and fall camp…

“It’s possible we could have some movement on the roster. We’ll have to see.”

“My assistant, Will, is scheduling guys to come in next week. The coaches will start to hit the road soon, but the head coaches can’t go on the road anymore in the spring for recruiting, so I’ll have time to be able to get with guys and have some one-on-ones before they head on out of here.”

On recruiting in the state of Michigan…

“It’s big to be able to recruit your state first. We’ve stated that, that we want to start here in the state of Michigan and then we’ll go from there. So, we’re aggressive in offering players early, getting them on campus, connecting with them and trying to create some authentic relationships so that we can sign the best players in the state.”

“Football is strong here in the state of Michigan. They have really good youth league programs, that’s where it really starts, and then our high school coaches here are outstanding. They have really good programs, the kids are training year-round, they do an excellent job of getting us the information that we need. The high school coaches do a great job getting the players the exposure that they need so we can get really good evaluations. We’re really fortunate to have really good high school football here in the state of Michigan.”

On Aaron Brule…

“Brule’s a good player, and he’s had a really good spring. He’s played a lot of football. He has a high motor, he’s very consistent and he plays hard. He can rush, he can cover, he packs a punch on contact – he loves the game of football and he’s got maturity because he’s an older guy. With that, he brings leadership. He’s a team guy.”

On how he feels about his team in his third year…

"I feel good about them. I like the way they work. The guys that have been available have gotten better. Every guy that has practiced has improved. We didn't have our full unit out there today, so I can actually see the guys who are out there and project the guys that were not out there. We have some more guys who will be joining us in May. Just the way they work in the weight room and what they do from a nutrition standpoint, and how we are holding each other accountable – we’re coming together as a team.”

"We have really good energy and a really good connection, and it's only going to grow throughout the summer. I anticipate we will have a very good summer program where our guys will be in great shape going into fall camp. It will be very competitive, we will be healthy. And we will have a strong team."

On Ma’a Gaoteote rejoining program after stint in transfer portal…

“Ma’a has really grown. He’s a good player, he’s a young player. He got a taste of what it’s like to play at the Power 5 level. There wasn’t a lot of convincing that had to take place. He knows that we want him here, and he knows that he can get better here. It’s very competitive, and that’s how you get good – when you compete every day. He’s made tremendous strides, and I like him. I like the way he works. He’s talented, he’s a football player, he loves football and he’s going to continue to get better. I’m glad that he’s here and he’s gotten better this spring.”

On Connor Heyward journey from transfer portal, to returning, to pursuing NFL career…

“Connor – his situation was a little different, because he was in the portal before I got here. So, when I got here he came to see me, and he said that he wanted to be on the team. And I recruited his area, I knew him – I got a call from Mike [Tomlin] in Pittsburgh, because [Connor’s] brother is there and I knew the councilors at his school. So, I was like, ‘Yeah, come on back. You’ve got a clean slate here. You’re going to have to get in shape and you come out here and compete, but we’re going to work with you and get you where you want to go.’”

“What does that mean for us? It just means that we’re going to do what we say we’re going to do, and if you give a kid a clean slate, he’s got a clean slate. If we say we’re going to work with you, we’ll work with you, and we’re going to do everything we can to get you where you want to go.”

“[Connor] trusted the process, he worked really hard. All the credit really goes to him, because he put the work in. We provided the process, but he was part of the culture-building. He became a culture warrior for us, and that’s what our players are going to get out of our program. They put the work and do what we ask them to do, and we’re going to pour everything we have into the and give them the best chance to success on and off the field. That’s what we’re doing here.”