Michigan State Offensive Lineman Jack Conklin is Already the Pride of Plainwell, Michigan. Before He is Done He Could be the Pride of the Spartan Nation!
Mark Dantonio is no fool. He knows that the Michigan State Spartans have to get better on the offensive line. Last year they were hindered by injury, depth and even coaching. They have addressed those areas, and time has healed many wounds, but that doesn’t mean the Spartans don’t have talented players. They do.
One of them is a Michigan product who has made a very big name for himself in his short time in East Lansing. At 6’6” and well north of three hundred pounds, the pride of Plainwell, Michigan is ready to make a big impression.
Jack Conklin had to impact the Spartans from the scout team last year, but entering 2013 the stakes are much higher. Now he wants to make an impact on the field. The playing field.
Spartan Nation caught up with Mark Dantonio recently and he had a lot to say about his young left tackle that is entering his red shirt freshman season second on the depth chart.
Dantonio told Spartan Nation, “Jack Conklin came to us last year as a preferred walk-on. And we basically said we’ll put you on aid in January, which we had done, and rather than go to Fork Union and us having to recruit you later, let’s come here now and invest. And he’s done a tremendous job. I would say, I don’t want to speak out of turn, but let’s just say that he has risen to a high level among the players that we’ve recruited.”
What did Dantonio see in the recruiting process? “All I did was look at the film and saw that the guy could run and (was) 305 lbs. He runs, he blocks, he’s athletic, and he’s going to be a great player for us. That’s my feeling right now. He’s a red shirt freshman so he still has to progress but he’s got a great upside to him.”
Conklin now weighs 310 pounds.
Conklin is not one to brag on himself. He doesn’t seek out the limelight, he just let’s his play speak for itself. What does his play say? This former walk on has big time, Big Ten ability.
The Spartans only took one offensive lineman in the 2013 recruiting class, but the staff didn’t panic. They knew they had some fine young players in the mix and Dantonio then signaled Conklin out.
He said on national letter of intent signing day last month that, “We took Jack Conklin last year and put him on scholarship mid year, and Jack is a guy that’s 6’6″, 305 right now and has had a very productive fall camp for us, and look for great, great things from him.”
Conklin has a high football IQ. Not only is he a star in the classroom, this National Honor Society youngster stared in three sports in high school having competed in track, basketball and started three years in football.
Coaches started raving about Conklin last September and his teammates before that. When Conklin won scout team player of the week for the EMU game, people knew he had the ability to be special. Max Bullough told Spartan Nation at the time, “Jack Conklin is a very good player out there that is sticking out. He does the little things that make you stick out. He is not just out there, but playing football and you can see those things will get him on the football field. He is giving us the look we need to win now, and that effort when you know you are redshirting tells you he loves the game and will be a player here.”
That is high praise from the best player and captain of your team.
As Conklin continues to impress with his on field play this spring, don’t be shocked. In fact Conklin is the All American kid. From a solid family he understands that football is what he does and what he enjoys, but it isn’t who he is.
As you head to the High Cathedral of the Spartan Nation on April 20 for the spring game, make sure you keep an eye out for big number 74. He will smile, he will talk to your kids who want an autograph, but he won’t boast. He won’t tell you how great he is or how well he has played. Only his behemoth size will give him away as a football player.
What Conklin will do is put on a show during the game and as he crosses the white line leaving the field this fierce competitor will morph back into the All American kid. Mark Dantonio knows that he has a special player in Jack Conklin that is why he loves to talk about him.
Dantonio recently referenced Conklin as a player who could, “Make a push,” this spring. More importantly he knows that he has a special player who is a great kid. Conklin is a rather large kid, but still a kid.
Jack Conklin is a lot of great things. He is a great athlete, a super student and an amazing person. The humble Conklin would probably prefer you just call him a Spartan. It fits: Even his enormous frame. Conklin’s size and talent are big, but his ego and humility are what really sticks out.
Who knows what lies ahead for Conklin? What I can tell you is that you can bank on him giving 100%, getting better every day and being the kind of young man off the field that any parent would be proud of. The pride of Plainwell will become a great source of pride in the Spartan Nation before his eligibility is up. If you are around the program daily like I am, you know that he already is.
Don’t believe me? Take time to meet him at the youth event in the spring or meet the Spartans in the fall. Anything can happen in football, there are no guarantees. There are a lot of talented people fighting for just five starting OL spots. What I do know is that Conklin has the talent to compete for one of those slots, but he also a terrific young man.
What I can guarantee you is that Conklin is smart enough to know he is talented and blessed with some unique gifts on the football field. He has a tremendous work ethic and drive. Better yet Conklin is even smarter; he knows that the kind of young man he is off of that same field is far more important.