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VIDEO: Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker discusses first practice in full pads of 2021 camp

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Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Michigan State Spartans began fall camp last week, but put the full pads on for the first time on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, The Only Colors was not able to make it to media availability this week, so our notes won’t be quite as in-depth as usual, however we can provide access to the video from head coach Mel Tucker’s podium time today, and highlight some things he had to say.

“It’s the first day of full pads and I feel like we got better today,” a hoarse-voiced Tucker said. “We challenged our players this morning to have a more physical practice, and to give extreme effort, and we did that, so (I feel like) we got better. It’s good to see guys in full pads and playing real football out there...It was a good day’s work, we gained some ground today, and feel good about it. We’ll watch the film, and get ready for the next one.”

The intensity at practice was high with the first day of pads, and Tucker noted that Wednesday’s point of focus was physicality and extreme effort.

“We just need to be more physical today because the name of the game is ‘hit,’” Tucker said. “It’s technique, fundamentals, smart, fast, but physical is what we needed today and we got that.”

The physicality and intensity was on display in the various positional groups:

Tucker noted that there is more competition on the team, at virtually every position, this year compared to last year. He also says it’s not necessarily the most talented athletes who are going to play, but rather the ones who are willing to give maximum effort and do what the team needs them to do, no matter if they’re younger guys or veteran players.

“We’re actually finding out (who on the team) can help us,” Tucker said. Who loves football? Who lives football? We’re gonna play the guys that play with toughness — mental and physical — that know what to do and give effort. Those are the guys that we’re gonna play. Then we’ll fit our schemes to fit those guys and do what those guys can do. The guys that can do that are the guys who are gonna play. It may not necessarily be the most talented player, but you have give extreme effort, you have to know what to do and you have to play with mental and physical toughness.”

Check out the full video here:

Other notes:

  • Tucker on athletic director Bill Beekman stepping down: “Obviously Bill hired me, and I appreciate him giving me the opportunity to come back home where it all started for me.”
  • Tucker also noted that he likes what running back Elijah Collins has been doing in practice, but told him that he “has to prove himself” every day.
  • Payton Thorne took first-team reps at quarterback during the portion of practice open to the media, per Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal.
  • Anthony Russo followed behind Thorne in the same drill.
  • Interestingly, Colton Pouncy of The Athletic noted that running back Connor Heyward was working with the tight ends in positional drills in practice today. Given Heyward’s solid hands, build and versatile skill set, it isn’t a big stretch to see how Heyward could excel at tight end. With that said, we have no reason to believe he won’t still see work at running back as well just yet, either — although the backfield is quite crowded.

When Tucker was asked about Heyward playing tight end, he said:

“He’s a versatile player and he can do many things, so anywhere in the backfield, he’s effective.”

  • Here is Heyward also working at H-Back/tight end in team drills, as pointed out by Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press
  • On the same play where Heyward was highlighted in team drills, Pouncy also noted that Minnesota transfer linebacker Itayvion “Tank” Brown was working as a stand-up edge rusher in practice today.
  • Mel Tucker said the team’s first scrimmage will be on Saturday. He also said he has no update on redshirt freshman wide receiver Ricky White, who is listed on the roster, but is yet to be spotted on the practice field, as MLive’s Matt Wenzel points out. Tucker also noted a second scrimmage will take place a week from this Saturday.
  • According to Chris Kapilovic, MSU’s assistant head coach, offensive line coach and run game coordinator, the competition at center between graduate student Matt Allen and junior Nick Samac is heating up, via Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News.
  • Charboneau also noted that Kapilovic spoke highly of Arkansas State transfer tackle Jarrett Horst, saying “He has a will to finish (off blocks) not a lot of people have.”

As always, great coverage was provided by the various Michigan State beat writers.

Stay tuned to The Only Colors for the latest news and updates on Michigan State athletics.