To the joy of head coach Mark Dantonio, Pat Narduzziâ€™s Spartan defense has been dominant. Ranked No.6 in total defense in 2011 and No.4 in 2012, the Michigan State defense has become one of the most feared in the Big Ten. Narduzziâ€™s already dangerous defensive machine received a new cog on May 15 in talented outside linebacker Chris Frey Jr.
Frey recently joined Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. on Spartan Nation Radio.
Hard hitting, tough linebackers seem more difficult to come by these days. Chris Frey Jr. is one of the special throwback players who is the exception to the rule. Though the Upper Arlington, Ohio native is not a massive figure at 6â€™1, 217 pounds, he can surprise you with his power. Whether blitzing the quarterback from the outside, pursuing a receiver in open space, or attacking the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage, Frey strikes fear in the heart of his opponents.
The junior at Upper Arlington High School plays a pair of positions, namely running back and safety. As one can see on his highlight film, Frey is a dynamic player. An all-around athlete, the eighth commitment of the 2014 MSU recruiting class can run the ball, catch passes, snatch interceptions, and even block kicks.
For a while, his body was one of a general athlete, as the youngster also ran track and played basketball. But his mentality soon changed following a discussion with MSU linebackers coach Mike Tressel after the teamâ€™s annual summer camp in East Lansing last year. â€œI came in at like 6â€™1â€, 197 and from there he [Tressel] told me, â€˜You need to put on weight if you want to play linebacker in the Big 10. If you want to be a Spartan you need to put on weight,â€™ â€ said Frey â€œSo from there I quit playing sports other than football. I stopped running track, I stopped playing basketball and I just started lifting. So I got a personal trainer, I started doing more training one-on-one. And I put on the weight.â€
As his training changed, the linebacker inside Frey began to emerge. He added weight and muscle, becoming a more intimidating figure to face off against. His junior campaign that followed was one to remember. Frey racked up 136 tackles, six forced fumbles, 12 tackles for loss, and three sacks. As one can see on his junior highlight video, the hits he delivers to opposing ballcarriers are ground shaking. His physicality and aggressiveness are a tribute to legendary linebackers from long ago. The fierceness he displays on the field also hearkens back to days of old.
â€œIâ€™ve been playing since I was about 5 years old. My whole life my dad has been there for me and heâ€™s always taught me how to play. Iâ€™ll tell you, it comes from him,â€ Frey said of his ferocity. â€œHeâ€™s taught me everything that I know about this game. He was my coach up until I was in eighth grade. Growing up, him being my coach, we always used to do that drill where somebody has the ball and the whole team has to tackle him. I was on the one side of the field and then everybody would be chasing me. Iâ€™d turn around and Iâ€™d run right into the circle and just try to hit as many people as I can. Itâ€™s just always been me. Thatâ€™s always what Iâ€™ve wanted to do. Thatâ€™s why I love defense so much, because Iâ€™m able to hit people. Iâ€™m able to do whatever I want, take all my anger out on one person if I need to. I just love doing it. Itâ€™s the game and thereâ€™s no other game like it.â€
At the same time, Frey is not simply a hulking monster who patrols the field on the hunt for a player to smash. Frey also uses his athleticism well, closing running lanes quickly and cutting in front of receivers. His wide range of talents makes the outside linebacker position an ideal fit for him, as he plays with a retro mindset but a new type of body.
Many programs in the Midwest discovered the Upper Arlington talent and offered Frey a scholarship. Numerous schools in the MAC and Big Ten, as well as Boston College and Kentucky, heavily pursued the linebacker. Michigan State showed a particular interest in the prospect from early on in the process, as Tressel talked to Frey on a number of occasions. In early May, Dantonio was impressed enough with the youngsterâ€™s talent and work ethic to extend a scholarship to the class of 2014 recruit. Frey visited MSU a few days later. â€œIt was great. We got to go to where the coachesâ€™ offices are and where the locker room is and all that,â€ he said. â€œIt was extremely nice. Some of the stuff I saw in there was some of the best Iâ€™ve seen so far. I really liked it a lot.â€
Following his visit, Frey thought that his decision time would extend until around July 31. But the talented recruit decided mere days after his trip to East Lansing that he wanted to become a Spartan. â€œIâ€™m officially a Michigan State Spartan! #spartannationâ€ Frey excitedly declared on his Twitter account on May 15.
One reason for his decision to become a Spartan was certainly the MSU coaching staff. â€œThe best part about the coaching staff is the fact that they win games. Period. Thereâ€™s no question about it,â€ Frey told Hondo S. Carpenter on Spartan Nation Radio recently. â€œIn talking to him [Narduzzi] the other night, he just told me that he wants me to be a part of this defense. He wants me to bring that enthusiasm to the table and to bring everything that I have and to become a Spartan. To do everything I can do to make this team better. I enjoyed talking to him. Heâ€™s a great coach.â€
Frey is also psyched to be part of an already talented defense with much promise for the future. â€œThis defense has what it takes. This defense is doing what it needs to do. The fact that Iâ€™ve received a scholarship to be on this defense, to be a part of this, itâ€™s just an unreal experience for me,â€ he said.
Through the chaos of his recruiting process and his high school football career, Frey has managed to remain humble. As stated above, he gives much of the credit to his father for coaching him and helping him along the way. The high school junior considers himself blessed to have the support he has.
â€œEvery Friday night thereâ€™s probably about 25 people in the stands for me, from my family and friends. Itâ€™s always great to have them on your back. Iâ€™m just blessed to have them in my life,â€ Frey said. â€œI have amazing parents, amazing supporting people around me that help me get through this, that help me make the decisions that I need to make and help me get to the places that I need to be. They do everything for me and it means the world to me.â€
Now part of the Spartan family, Frey looks to make a major impact in the Green and White. As a valuable, throwback linebacker with a love of contact, the newest Spartan will most certainly find his niche in East Lansing. Players like him who have passed before have been treated as legends. Linebacker Chris Frey Jr. has the potential to become the next Spartan hero.
The Upper Arlington, Ohio native has the potential to become the next Spartan hero.