Michigan State’s Kyler Elsworth and Darien Harris have been splitting reps during Rose Bowl practices as they prepare to replace starting middle linebacker Max Bullough, a team captain who was suspended on the eve of the Spartans’ arrival for violating unspecified team rules.
Elsworth, a fifth-year senior, said he was initially surprised by the turn of events.
“It’s different, coming here thinking all I’m going to play is some special teams and maybe get some goal-line [defense], and then finding out, 'Hey, you might be the guy,'" Elsworth said. “At first, it’s kind of a shock to your system.”
Elsworth, however, said he would be ready when the Spartans play Stanford in the 100th Rose Bowl game.
“I’m going to take full advantage of the opportunity that’s there and step up and show the team, show the nation and show everyone that Michigan State’s linebackers are more than one-deep.”
Harris, a sophomore, anticipates that he and Elsworth both will play.
“Tyler and I are very close on and off the field,” Harris said. “We’ve talked all season about wanting to contribute more, wanting to get our opportunity.
“Since I’ve got here, he’s been like a big brother to me, so I think it’s really fitting that us two are getting this opportunity.”