EAST LANSING – As temperatures soared into the 90s in Michigan this week, Nick Samac made the most of the weather.
The Michigan State senior center headed west to Lake Michigan. But, that was only after another day of the Spartans’ summer strength and conditioning program.
“I can’t say the heat was super fun until I hit Grand Haven,” Samac said with a smile, following a workout on Thursday.
Michigan State wrapped up spring practice on April 16 and, after a break, began its summer strength and conditioning program on May 31. That will carry the team into the start of fall camp.
“They’re working us hard in there, I’m not going to lie,” sixth-year senior tight end Tyler Hunt said with a laugh. “It’s hot, it’s humid.”
Mel Tucker is heading into his third season as coach and looking for even more success to follow an 11-2 year. While the Spartans are creating buzz nationally on the recruiting trail by landing commitments from five 2023 four-star prospects so far this month, the current team is putting in the work to build the foundation for the fall.
“We’re a lot further ahead in our workout program than we were last year,” Hunt said. “There wasn’t much easing into this summer as there was last year. We really hit the ground running this summer and I think it’s only going to benefit us more to start out faster than we did last year, especially with the freshmen and all the transfers coming in as well.”
Michigan State added 14 midyear scholarship players in January – nine true freshmen from the 2022 recruiting class and five transfers – who went through the winter strength and conditioning program and spring practice. A trio of graduate transfers arrived in May, followed later in the month by true freshmen who weren’t early enrollees.
Dillon Tatum, a four-star defensive back from West Bloomfield High School, was one of the early enrollees this year. He’s now going through an offseason program – spearheaded by head strength and conditioning coach Jason Novak – for the second time and has noticed an improvement, including in his upper body.
“It’s good for me because I did take advantage of it when I got here,” Tatum said. “I learned a lot and got stronger, got bigger and faster. Now that the other guys came in, I’m always going to be a team player, help my guys out, make sure they understand this or that.”
Tatum was in Atlanta earlier this week as part of a Michigan State group sent to the inaugural NIL Summit. Redshirt sophomore tight end Maliq Carr was there as well while being introduced as an addition to the World Wrestling Entertainment’s NIL program. The former Purdue transfer is coming off his first season with the Spartans and also played basketball for coach Tom Izzo after football ended. That meant he wasn’t a full participant in Novak’s winter program and is getting back into football shape.
“Basketball has me feeling lighter on my feet,” Carr said. “It has me moving better with more body control, which is great.”
Renovations to the football facility recently began, which led to moving the weight room equipment to the indoor practice field. That takes up some space and requires an adjustment. There’s also a new focus on the Spartans after Tucker led them to the biggest single-season turnaround in program history.
“We have all the weapons that we need to win big but it’s day-by-day,” Carr said. “It’s come in every day, put your hardhat on and go to work.”
Hunt knows the grind very well. The former walk-on who joined the program as a punter before converting to tight end two seasons ago, is in his sixth and final year at Michigan State. Now recovered from an injury that sidelined him late last season, he’s among more than 100 players building up for the fall.
“We’ll be ready for it, I think,” Hunt said. “They prepared us well throughout winter, spring and now the summer.”
Related Michigan State football stories:
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4-star OL Clay Wedin commits to Michigan State
4-star CB Jaylon Braxton commits to Michigan State
Michigan State football opponents: Wisconsin reworks defense that was among the nation’s best last year
4-star LB Jordan Hall commits to Michigan State