Senior Grayson Miller making transition from safety to linebacker
Sophomore cornerback Josiah Scott secured the win for the defense in last year’s spring game.
He picked off Brian Lewerke late to give the defense a 30-23 lead, and then broke up a Lewerke pass to give the defense the 33-23 win.
But Saturday, Scott and the defense fell short, losing to the offense 32-30 on a 18-yard pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Rocky Lombardi to junior wide receiver Darrell Stewart Jr.
The first team defense played the majority of the game, but without their starting linebackers. Junior Joe Bachie was dressed, but didn’t play, while senior Andrew Dowell didn’t dress at all.
However, this did give headway for opportunity, especially to senior Grayson Miller who is transitioning this spring from a safety to a linebacker.
“He has a lot of knowledge of the game. He knows where to be all the time, and he brings it,” Scott said postgame. “I feel like I can count on him every time I look out there, and he’s on my side … That’s a real good piece — him moving to linebacker — because he knows how a defensive back will feel in different situations. He knows.”
The Georgetown, Kentucky native collected seven tackles in the annual game, earning him one of the few notable recognitions at the end of the game.
The spring game was Miller’s first time playing linebacker in front of an audience outside the program, but he said he played well. He said he thought he played well in space and made some open field tackles, but needs to get more reps at linebacker, which is something that comes with time.
“I think it's kind of the reason I play linebacker and why they brought me down and why I'm doing the things I do,” Miller said. “But, that just comes with more reps and something I'll continue to work on all summer and take it into the fall.”
And it’s also something he'd much rather do than chasing opposing wide receivers in the secondary.
“(Miller) told me he’d rather bang his head against a 300-pound man than have to run with 4.4 guy in the vertical,” defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Mike Tressel said after a March 27 practice. “So he’s all in and doing a good job.”
With the departure of former linebacker Chris Frey, there’s an open starting spot in the linebacking core. That spot has mostly been contested between sophomore Brandon Randle and junior Tyriq Thompson.
“Brandon is a guy that’s very athletic, as everybody knows. Can make plays,” head coach Mark Dantonio said.
Thompson played mostly at middle linebacker Saturday, while Randle played as an outside linebacker. Thompson’s play at the MIKE was his first of the spring, Dantonio said.
“We'll see how he did, but both those guys have had good, solid springs,” Dantonio said. “They're competing on a daily basis and we'll see how it shakes out, but good football players.”
Miller said if he performs well and the coaches take notice, he’ll get playing time. Because at the end of the day, in the MSU program, “the best players will play.”
“You know if on a certain day or a certain practice I’m the best player, I’m going to have my opportunity to play,” Miller said. “I think if you just take that mindset, only good things can happen.”