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MSU football's Drew Beesley's last minute decision to bet on himself paid off

October 16, 2020
<p>&nbsp;Red shirt sophomore defensive lineman Drew Beesley (86) performs a drill during the football practice on July 31, 2017, at the practice fields behind the Duffy Daugherty Football Building</p>

 Red shirt sophomore defensive lineman Drew Beesley (86) performs a drill during the football practice on July 31, 2017, at the practice fields behind the Duffy Daugherty Football Building

Photo by Jon Famurewa | The State News

It was the night before signing day.

Drew Beesley was a two-star prospect out of Warren De La Salle high school, where he finished his career as the school's all time leader in tackles for loss. He had several offers from schools such as Central Michigan and Toledo, but the 6'2" defensive end was looking for more than just a good football fit.

"I kind of just looked at it as if I was just a regular student," Beesley said. "Like if football wasn't part of the equation, would I love going to school here? For Michigan State, that answer was an obvious yes. The only thing I didn't have was a scholarship."

Beesley had two options: either take the scholarship from a lower-level football program or bet on himself as a walk-on at Michigan State. After going back and forth, Beesley chose the latter, waiting until the very last minute to come to a final conclusion.

"It was like 11:50 at night," Beesley said. "I was just in my room thinking to myself, then I pulled the trigger and I called Coach Salem and Coach Dantonio. They were ecstatic that I was coming. I called the other coaches that offered me and told them where I was going, and they hung up the phone and I guarantee you they all thought I was crazy because I turned down a scholarship."

It turned out Beesley wasn't crazy. Now a redshirt-senior and on scholarship, he has carved himself out a pivotal role on the Spartan's defensive line, one that is looking to replace the production of Kenny Willekes, Raequan Williams and Mike Panasiuk. Last season, Beesley appeared in 13 games, collecting 14 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

After showing flashes of solid production last season, Beesley hopes he can fully tap into his potential in 2020.

"Part of that is just taking advantage of every opportunity that you have and making the most of it," Beesley said. "I plan this season to make the most of every opportunity that's given to me. I expect a lot of great things from me, as well as our defense this season because we're coming."

Beesley should get plenty of opportunities this fall as new defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton and defensive line coach Ron Burton try to weed out who can be consistent contributors on the line. Beesley mentioned junior Jack Camper, freshman Michael Fletcher and Jeff Pietrowski as guys who have stood out so far.

As far as his own state of mind, the increased playing time Beesley saw last year has him feeling more prepared and confident with just over a week until the season begins.

"I feel like I have a better understanding of the game," Beesley said. "My mind is moving faster. When I'm on the field, I'm not panicking (and) I'm able to play at a high speed and not think too much. Normally, football players play good when they don't have to think as much."

Jacub Panasiuk opting back into the season will provide a major boost to the defensive line, but it will be guys like Naquan Jones and Beesley who will need to produce in order for the Spartans to keep up with the high-flying offenses the team will face. Teams like Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan all possess a lot of weapons offensively, so how well MSU's defensive line can stop the run and generate a pass rush will go a long way in determining their success this season.

Beesley is ready for one more run in his senior year, as that decision he made in his room almost five years ago has finally come full circle.

"Slowly but surely," Beesley said. "Playing behind guys like Kenny and Jacub, it's kind of hard to achieve that success as soon as you want it to. But just (by) being patient, your opportunity is going to come, and mine came. This is the time."

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