New Michigan State Spartan 2014 TE Matt Sokol Enrolled Early To Make a Difference in Year One!
Tight end Matt Sokol out of Rochester Adam High School knew that he was signing up for a serious challenge when he decided to enroll early at MSU. Joined only linebacker Chris Frey as the only two early enrollees in the 2014 MSU recruiting class, Sokol has been able to get a head start preparing for the fall by participating in winter football workouts with the Spartans.
During an interview on Spartan Nation Radio, Sokol told listeners that since first setting foot in East Lansing, he has quickly learned what it takes to be a part of the Spartan football program. At MSU, he said, there is simply no place for anything but 110% effort, all the time. “From day 1, there was no easing into it. Every single guy is giving everything he’s got.” Toughness, according to Sokol, is like “an aroma in the air” around the football building. The expectations are high, the intensity is off the charts, and for him “there’s no room for anything less.”
Because of his early enrollment, Sokol has been able to participate in strength and conditioning Coach Ken Mannie’s infamous winter training sessions. Although he had been warned about the difficulty of these workouts, Sokol was blown away by just how hard Mannie pushes the players. “When you are in that weight room, there’s not one minute where you’re taking a break. You are constantly moving and you are constantly doing something. You just have to listen and put everything you’ve got into everything you do.”
Sokol has embraced the challenge and understands that by going through the pain now, he will only be made stronger in the future. “He (Mannie) is an unbelievable coach and there is no other guy that is right for the job here.”
Right now though, Sokol acknowledges that winter workout grind, starting with intense 5:45 A.M. lift sessions, has successfully exhausted him. Instead of going out, hanging out with friends, or partying, he and roommate Chris Frey are usually passed out in their dorm by 10 at night. “If you don’t rest your body, there’s no way you are going to survive any of these workouts.”
Like many in the 2014 class, Sokol committed to MSU before the Spartans had won the Big Ten Title or Rose Bowl Championship. His commitment came after a disappointing 7-6 2013 season. Asked why he was so sure about coming to MSU, even before their eventual success in the following season, Sokol said that he could feel something tangibly different about MSU compared to the other schools recruiting him.
“I saw when I was being recruited that I was not treated just like a player, but I was really treated like a person.” He added that MSU creates an atmosphere like no other college he experienced during recruiting. “This is a dream school for me, that work ethic here, the reputation Michigan State has had, it is the reason I committed so early.”
In preparation for fall camp, Sokol understands there is much he needs to improve in order to have a chance at playing his freshmen year. In high school, the 6-5 225 pound Sokol out sized just about everyone. At MSU, on the other hand, he is relatively small. Sokol says he already has added 4 or 5 pounds since coming to MSU but says he wants to pack on at least 15 or 20 more before fall camp. In addition to the grueling work out regiment, he is trying to eat more than 5000 calories per-day.
Perhaps more challenging than the physical work he is putting in is the mental adjustment necessary to process, understand, and remember advanced college playbooks. “With Coach Dantonio and all the coaches, you need to be mentally ready, you need to understand the schemes, and you need to understand all the playbook concepts.”
Despite all the challenges, Sokol is committed to working as hard as he possibly can. “Either way’” he said, “if I redshirt or if I’m playing, I am going to give it everything I’ve got.” The Spartan Nation is lucky to have a guy as hungry as Sokol coming to East Lansing and he will surely be a valuable member of the football program in the years to come.