Scottie Hazelton on the New Michigan State Defense

McLain Moberg

Scottie Hazelton says there are a lot of different reasons why Michigan State University would "draw a person," but his biggest reason for coming to East Lansing centers around new head coach Mel Tucker.

"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," said Hazelton.

However, Hazelton knows what the Spartans are known for, and expects them to keep doing what they've always done.

Dominate defensively.

"As a football coach, you track who's good and who's doing what," Hazelton said. 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."

The Spartans young players didn’t see a lot of playing time last season, which could become an issue for a team who lost seven starters from the 2019 defense. Defensively, Hazelton said he plans on using a 4-3 defense because it’s the same scheme Dantonio's coaching staff utilized. 

Hazelton kept defensive line coach Ron Burton and safeties coach Mike Tressel; both were Dantonio assistants. Besides them, he hired Harlon Barnett to coach the cornerbacks. Barnett left Michigan State following the 2017 season to become the defensive coordinator at Florida State.

“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,” says Hazelton. “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.”

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