We have heard the story before.
A kid dreams of playing for his favorite team, joins team as a walk-on and makes big play at Notre Dame Stadium.
Ok, maybe that’s a stretch but it was hard not to notice the similarities when Lansing native and Michigan State walk-on wide receiver Matt Macksood blocked a punt in the first quarter of a 17-13 loss to the Fighting Irish two weeks ago.
“We had it in the game plan all week, but it’s kinda one of those things where it’s a punt block so it’s not guaranteed what you’re gonna do. You just kinda gotta go out there and believe in the plan that the coaches gave you and execute. Fortunately enough for me I stuck with it and it happened for me. It was a really fun experience for me, though,” quoted Macksood.
It is a special moment Matt Macksood has dreamed of dawning the green and white. Plus, a large support system next door makes it that much easier to enjoy.
“Growing up, my Dad went here. He’s a big Spartan…a lot of Spartans in my family. Just having my community behind me and all my friends cheering for me from here… My high school coach is just 5 minutes down the road. It’s just a big support system for me here. So having them having my back always, checking in on me and how I’m doing, it’s just a really big support system that plays to my advantage a lot I think,” said Macksood.
After Macksood made the biggest play of his young Spartan career, blocking the first Notre Dame punt since 2008, that support system flooded cell towers across Michigan with congratulatory texts and voicemails.
Said Macksood, “My phone blew up a little bit. I don’t know if I’ve ever had that many text messages. Just congrats and people saying they believed in me and they knew I could do it. So it was just kinda good to just get some support from everyone.”
While, the Lansing product had plenty of support from friends and family, it didn’t stop Macksood’s teammates from ragging the first-year player on the bench.
“They’ve actually been trying to get me on that…range is what we call it…for awhile. So it was fun. They enjoyed it out there. They were piping me up all week. So I think that was the biggest thing for me is just having the belief of my teammates behind me to go make a play. And then when I did, just having fun with them on the sidelines,” said Macksood.
After redshirting his freshman year, Macksood, a two-time All-State selection from Lansing Catholic Central, is starting to see more time on the field and is making the most of an incredible opportunity.
“It’s a really fun experience going from last year from redshirting to getting your first action in a live game. It’s hard going from high school and not playing for a full year and then playing. Really I’m just enjoying it. All the reps I can get whether that’s 1, 2, 3 plays a game. Whatever it is, I’m trying to give all-out maximum effort and bring whatever I can to the table,“ said Macksood.
It has been a good start for Matt Macksood. Along with a blocked punt two weeks ago, Macksood picked up his first reception the week before. The eight-yard grab came from quarterback Tyler O’Connor in the closing minutes of a 55-17 victory over Youngstown State at Spartan Stadium.
“It was great just to get an opportunity to be out there with a few of my guys in Spartan Stadium. I’ll never forget that moment and everything that happened because of it. The hard work…you could really see it pay off. It was real fun,” said the 5-11 wide receiver.
While a good start is all well and good, Macksood doesn’t plan to rest on his laurels any time soon. That hard work ethic and determination starts on the practice field.
“Just continuing to get better every day in practice. We’ve got another practice tomorrow and then back to our normal routine. So I just gotta stay the course. It just becomes second nature going to practice every day, wanting to get better. So just doing your normal routine,” said Macksood.
Despite falling to 3-1 with the loss at Notre Dame, Macksood believes the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Spartans get ready to kick off the Big Ten slate on Saturday, when they travel to Iowa City.
“I think it’s big. It was a tough one to lose down there at Notre Dame but I think it’s a good week for us to regroup and get ready for the Big Ten season,” said Macksood.
As an always-difficult Big Ten season approaches, Macksood and the Spartans continue to set their sights on bringing another Big Ten title back to Michigan State.
“Really that’s our ultimate goal. Just like Coach D says every week, our goals are still in front of us. The Big Ten games matter more than the non-conference games so I think it’s good for us to recollect ourselves, figure out our goals and then go forward from here on out.”
Macksood and the Spartans take to the field at 12:00pm ET Saturday as they start the Big Ten season at Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes (4-1, first in Legends Divison). He won’t pound his chest or act the fool to be seen by the cameras. That isn’t the way he was raised and not the way he operates. He lets his work ethic get him attention. So if you watch close in Iowa City, the Howdy Doody All American boy next door will get your attention one way: He makes plays. Just like he always has. Keep doubting him if you want, he has a way of making his critics and opponents look bad.