“Rudy with talent,” From Walk On to Key Player MSU LB Kyler Elsworth Has Won His Teammates Respect!
A: …Not only getting turnovers but making a big play out of it. Getting the pick 6, or getting the fumble recovery and getting the touchdown. So all spring ball that’s been our one goal as a defense, that’s been the one thing we’ve all been working on. We’re keeping tallies of who’s trying to strip the ball, how many strips each position group has. So that’s been a big focus. And today, like you said, Joel Heath, I think, and Taiwan Jones another tackle and do what we did and jar the ball loose. Get it free. A couple times Chris Laneaux had a pick 6. I had a fumble recovery. A couple of other picks that were in the game. I think the defense is really focusing in on getting those turnovers because they are such a big game changer. Our two scores for the white team were defensive scores. So it’s a big game changer. It’ll keep you in the game.
Q: Is it something that maybe, I don’t wanna say the coaches threaten you with, but maybe say, Listen. If you can’t get me takeaways or force fumbles or get picks , then that may cost you some time on the field.
A: One of the things they said is if you and another guy compete for a spot, the other guy is doing same things, or that guy is getting more turnovers or he’s forcing more opportunities for a fumble, he’s trying, digging at it, they’re gonna put him in there. Like I said, getting those is a big thing. That’s not really a threat, but holding it over your head a little bit as a motivator.
Q: How much has Jairus and that position… How has he changed the defense?
A: Great. JJ came down, he’s undersized, and that happens. But he came down and he picked it up right away. Smart guy. He knew the defense when he was in the secondary. He came down there…and the thing like coach D always says is, The defense is a puzzle. You know your fit. You know your job. Everyone does their job. That’s when you get turnovers, you get stops is when you get 3 and out. JJ came down there and played outside backer. He’s very good at the pass. And transition into the run, he’s doing great. He’s doing a great job of that. It really makes our team more dynamic.
Q: They compared him to Max a little bit, as far as knowledge of the game. Does he have that? Is his knowledge that deep?
A: Yes. Max is a very knowledgeable guy. He’s the leader of the defense, but having JJ there almost takes a little bit off of Max. He says, I don’t have to worry about JJ. JJ knows what he’s doing. If a guy in front of him or a guy around JJ is messing up, JJ can say, Hey listen. You need to be doing this. It kinda helps Max out, helps the whole defense out. And it really makes the whole defense a lot better.
Q: Tyler, you were the little engine that could in a very positive way. The only thing you do is you make plays. What is it about you that you keep making plays?
A: I just try to do exactly what the coaches ask. The defense is set up, like I said earlier, a puzzle where you do your job and the guy next to you does his job. It’s gonna cause things, it’s gonna cause turnovers, it’s gonna cause 3 and outs. I think with everyone doing their job… I was at mike backer, it just happened where I was in the right spot at the right time scraping over, trusting that Taiwan Jones was gonna get the fill or get the tackle. And Joel Heath was in there, happened to be at the right spot at the right time, just trying to buy in to what the coaches are giving us.
Q: One of your teammates last week called you a talented Rudy. The fact that they’re still talking about you…you make plays. That’s gotta make you earn their respect. You come in with a scholarship. You’ve earned it. Is that extra special for you?
A: Yeah, that’s one of the big things I wanted to do when I came here. People say, Why didn’t you wrestle? Why didn’t you go play football at the MAC or go play somewhere else? One of the things I wanted to do was I wanted to earn it for myself. I knew that I could play. The first thing I wanted to do was earn the respect of my teammates. Once I earned the respect of my teammates and earned the respect of my coach. And then finally I got a scholarship. Having my teammates recognize that I’m doing well or I’m making plays, that’s a big thing. The coaches are gonna see it, but when your teammates are around you going, Hey you know… he hustling to the ball or he’s doing this right or he’s doing that right. It really motivates you to really keep working at it and doing it.
Q: A lot of guys earn that scholarship though and then kind of take a rest. You’ve continued to play with a chip on your shoulder. What is your reason? How does that work?
A: The scholarship was the one thing I was working towards but it wasn’t the final journey. Coach says that once you climb one hill there’s always another mountain to climb. After I got that scholarship that was just one hill. The next thing was I wanted to be on the starting defense. I wanted to be on all the special teams. So I always have that next goal in mind. I don’t wanna get complacent and just kinda coast through saying, I got my scholarship. I got what I wanted. School’s paid for. But no, I always try to think about all the things I have. Think about all the practices fields that we have, all this stuff we have, not taking anything for granted. That really helps me stay focused.
Q: Coming into spring ball after last year’s spring ball, how is the defense different? Coming out of spring ball last year and coming out of spring ball this year.
A: I think our defense is different in the way that we have a lot more guys that have played in critical situations. We have lots of games that we lost by one or two points. We’ve had guys who’ve played on the line, they haven’t just been in in blowout games or anything. These guys really know how to, when it comes down to the wire, what they need to do and what it takes. I think out there even today in that last drive where the green team was trying to do down there and score, that our defense knew the goal at hand and said, Listen. We’ve lost a lot of games in the 4th quarter. We haven’t put it together; we haven’t had a complete game. I think from last year coming into this year we really were focused and were determined to finish the game. We’re not gonna gas out and let them get a 3rd down or 3rd and long or 4th and long. I think in our defense, just our mentality and mindset is really one thing that stood out.