For every superstar in the spotlight, there are two or three more in the background making it all possible.

One such player on the dominant Michigan State defense is Marcus Rush. A three-year starter at defensive end, Rush does not receive a lot of attention, but the junior is a critical cog in the Spartan machine.

Rush played a large role in helping MSU reach the Rose Bowl with a Big Ten Championship and a 12-1 record. These accomplishments have been goals of his since choosing the Green and White in the summer of 2009. Rush recently spoke with Hondo S. Carpenter, covering a variety of topics.

Not one to boast, Rush doesn’t love to talk to the media. It just isn’t his nature to talk about himself. He prefers to talk about the success of others around him, especially his friends.

“It’s always fun to come out here and talk about our teammates,” Rush said. “Shilique [Calhoun] is a great guy, he deserves all the attention because he works so hard. We both work so hard: it’s always so enjoyable to just talk about it.”

This might explain why Rush doesn’t typically sit in the middle of the spotlight. A rock on the defensive line, Rush always gives it his all. The Cincinnati, Ohio native notched a tackle in each of his 11 games this season, ending the year with 27 tackles and five sacks. An honorable mention All-Big Ten pick by both the media and coaches, Rush quietly anchors the defensive line. Few notice him because he is so consistent.

One of the reasons for Rush’s dependability is his hard work not only in the weight room and on the field, but in the film room.

“I’m never happy with the way I play,” Rush said. “I watch film and critique myself harder than anyone else, but overall I’m happy with the way I play and when I look at myself on film and the coaches are telling me that I’m playing well, that’s what means the most, when I’m doing my job and filling my role.”

Rush played a significant part in sending the Spartans to Pasadena, especially in MSU’s victory over Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game. Michigan State limited OSU’s offense to 24 points, its lowest point total of the season.

“That was my goal from day one after last season,” Rush said. “As soon as we were done with that game, [I was with] my roommate, Travis Jackson, who’s from the middle of Columbus, and I [said], ‘Man, the best thing that could happen would be for us to play Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship undefeated. If they’re undefeated, I don’t care what our record is, as long as we’re in that game and we beat them, that would be the best.’”

Having accomplished his goal of reaching the Rose Bowl, Rush now looks forward to taking on the Stanford Cardinal ten days from now. The junior can’t wait for the Spartans to duke it out with like-minded Stanford. The Cardinal plays a similar type of game, relying on 6’1, 226 pound running back Tyler Gaffney to pound the ball and open up the aerial attack, guided by quarterback Kevin Hogan.

“[I’m impressed by] their run game,” Rush said. “They have some big guys who play really well. They’re powerful and they play like us.”

The battle between the Spartans and the Cardinal promises to be one for the ages, a throwback to the days when the rushing game was king and games came down to the gritty battles in the trenches.

“I love it, that’s football,” Rush said. “That’s the way I’ve grown up to play, it’s power football. That’s the way I’ve been taught to play and the way I love to play.”

An integral part of a stout Spartans defense, Marcus Rush will have an important role in shutting down Stanford in the Rose Bowl. If his past consistency is any indication, Rush will be ready to go once Jan. 1 rolls around.

This one thing is certain. Rush won’t brag on himself, but good guys can and do finish first. Rush is proof of it.

 

Joe Ginley is the newest writer for the Spartan Nation website and magazine. He writes Spartans in the NFL and State of the Spartans among other articles. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio. Joe brings a great passion for sports and a great flexibility in writing skills.


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