April 12, 2013

SPRING FOOTBALL: Reynolds is 'on track'

Michigan State's defensive staff doesn't have to worry about nose tackle and Lansing native Micajah Reynolds and the urgency question in his last season in a Spartan uniform.

Reynolds, a fifth-year senior, who began his career on the offensive line, is fully aware that this is his last opportunity to make a statement, and still holds the philosophy that has carried him through much of his career at MSU.

The idea that he is a representative of his city who has taken it upon himself to show other budding prep football players of the area that you can come to the hometown school and make a name for yourself and your team.

"I feel like a defensive veteran now, whereas before I was just feeling like (one of) the team's players. I know all of the schemes now. Now it's just a matter of technique and helping out the younger guys so that they're able to get their technique right. That's definitely something I'm striving to be more of. It's no good for me to just have the knowledge and it stays in my head. I have to be able to apply it and give it to my teammates so that they're able to gain the same thing.

"And with this being the first spring where I'm not having to come off of play (on the offense), I feel like I've gotten so much better in my position. But I don't have a choice. I'm an old head now, so it is what it is.''

While the 6-foot-5, 308-pound defensive lineman had been repping with the 2s to start the spring practice, Reynolds said he has moved up to the No. 1 spot and is looking to build off a 2012 season that showed promise but was slowed by some bumps and bruises midway through.

"You know last year, I felt like I got off to a great start,'' said Reynolds, who started six of MSU's 13 games last season. "The first two games of the season, I was doing really great and then I had a couple of injuries and didn't finish off the season necessarily the way I wanted to. But coming in this spring with (defensive line) Coach (Ron) Burton, I'm getting all this new work and great technique in. Coach says we have to get three percent better everyday and I feel like I've been doing that.

"Our whole emphasis this spring is to not be Velcro players, not being stuck on blocks or getting stuck in a pass rush, and to have multiple moves ready so that you're constantly moving. That's probably been the biggest difference because we're not just working on trying to get off the ball but to keep our hands and our legs moving.''

After seeing action in all 13 games last season, Reynolds finished with 19 tackles, including two for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. But he did have four outings where he recorded no stops at all. Part of getting three percent better would mean being productive in every game.

"It just means studying what you've been doing (to be successful), studying your habits. You are your habits, you are what you do on a constant basis. With Coach Burton, the one thing that he preaches to us, is, 'just come see me, come talk to me.' It's all about 'we' and what 'we' can do as a team to get better. So we've been studying, preparing just a little bit different and I can see the improvement that it's been making.''

One area Reynolds feels he has made great strides in is pushing through fatigue to make plays.

"We rely on our memory when we are tired and feel that we can't go. That's when it's most important to be working on technique. The expectations are that you can go for some time but once you get tired it's not a factor (on your performance). Coach Burton has a philosophy, 'two for a dollar, three for a dollar,' which means if you're a starter you should be going at least two or three times more than what the younger guys and I'm really starting to understand more and more why that's necessary.''

And what about that urgency to close his career strong by helping MSU improve on last season's 7-6 finish?

"As the weeks have gone by, I'm starting to feel it more and more. It's gone by very quickly but I'm looking to close on a good note. It's all about coming in with the same philosophy I came into camp with last year. I had a chip on my shoulder then and I felt the exact same way with a new coach coming in that I have something to prove, that I'm that guy that can do it and get the job.''

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