Spartan Defensive Coordinator Scottie Hazelton Talks Mel Tucker

Hondo S. Carpenter

East Lansing, MI-- The rebuilding process for Michigan State football under new head coach Mel Tucker, took a very positive turn when he hired one of the top tier young defensive coordinators in America. Bringing Scottie Hazelton from Kansas State was a coup for the first year Spartan head coach.

Earlier this week, the Spartans new defensive general talked about what it was about Mel Tucker that brought him to East Lansing. “Well, it was great. Coach Tucker called me one day; I guess it was probably only about a month ago and asked me if I’d be interested, and of course, I was. There are lots of different reasons why Michigan State would draw a person, you know, and I’ve been telling this story quite a bit, but, first of all, Coach Tucker. Everybody that you know that knows him says great things about him. He’s a great defensive mind, and you can learn a lot of ball from him. I think that’s the first thing that you say, Okay, hey that draws you to it, being in a good working relationship with a guy, a guy that knows and understands defense that you can also... it’s like having another assistant coach on staff that you can pick their brains. He’s been a coordinator everywhere, so it’s even better than that a lot of times.” 

Hazelton went on to add, “The second thing, you know when he started talking to me about it. As a football coach, you track who’s good and who’s doing what. Michigan State has always been great on defense, and that’s one of the things that kind of as you go around and you can meet kids and kind of see what their pedigree is, and their background and I know that these guys are guys that run to the ball and…just try to do right and they and they strain to get through it. You can cover up a lot of mistakes with that and just be in that mentality. Even talking to the older guys on the team, they’re football guys who understand ball and want to get better ball and have bigger goals in life. So, that trains younger guys, and everyone comes through that. That was a very interesting thing to me just to get into their heads a little bit to see what draws them to play the sport and do that thing. So, you know, those things and then when I came up really it was about relationships with Coach Tucker, and some of the guys on the staff, the staff that had already been hired, at least all the full-time guys had been. And so just having a chance to sit down and talk to Coach Tressel and Coach Barnett, Coach Burton and Coach Els, get to know them and see how that room was going to work because I think we’re all mature enough guys, and been in this business long enough that you would say, ‘Listen, if there’s going to be some personality conflicts or things like that, you know, there’s gonna be some clashes.’ It’s a hardworking environment for anybody, but when I got up here and with the deal, you know they’re all great people, you know, they’re great people first, which is nice because there’s a lot of good knowledge of football and there’s a lot of wisdom in that room now, and we can bounce ideas off each other. So, that was very attractive to me, also.”

As the Spartan find their way through these COVID-19 safety precautions, one thing is certain. Stability is back in the program, and Tucker and Hazelton are ready to coach ball and not just talk about it.

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