Michigan State football: Media reacts to Mel Tucker’s 6-0 start, RB Kenneth Walker’s Heisman Trophy chances
“Check out the media’s reaction to Mel Tucker’s unreal start in just his second year with Michigan State and Kenneth Walker’s Heisman Trophy chances below”.
Mel Tucker stock skyrocketing. https://t.co/Eq9QzX3P4U
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) October 9, 2021
In just his second season as head coach, Tucker is off to a 6-0 start with the Spartans. During his first year in 2020, Michigan State finished 2-5 in the COVID-19 shortened season.
Michigan State football:
• bowl eligible
• 11th ranked team in the country
• legitimate Heisman candidate in Kenneth Walker III
Not bad for Mel Tucker’s second season at MSU. pic.twitter.com/r3ALir6A6l
— Kelly (@k_dunbar9) October 9, 2021
Michigan State will likely be ranked inside the top ten when tomorrow’s Week 7 AP Poll is released. Their toughest remaining games on the schedule include No. 9 Michigan, No. 7 Ohio State, and No. 4 Penn State.
6-0 and at a point where you’re winning a road game with some stuff to clean up … pretty damn good stuff from Mel Tucker. https://t.co/QqKPC1FGBG
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) October 9, 2021
The Spartans entered today’s game as a 4.5 point favorite and easily covered the spread. They had two turnovers in the game to Rutgers’ one but outgained the Scarlet Knights 588 yards to 377 yards.
Michigan State is the first Power 5 team to become bowl eligible in 2021
— Dustin Schutte (@SchutteCFB) October 9, 2021
Michigan State is already bowl eligible with six wins on the season, the first team to reach the milestone. The last time Michigan State had at least six wins in a full season was 2019 when the Spartans finished 7-6. The last time they had a double-digit win season was in 2017, finishing 10-3.
It’s pretty wild what Mel Tucker is doing at Michigan State. Either he’s *really* good at all this, or that cupboard in Lansing wasn’t as bare as we all thought… https://t.co/dYQJbbGLY1
— Andrew G. Haubner (@A_G_Haubner) October 9, 2021
One of the biggest reasons for Tucker’s success in year two was the Spartans landing running back Kenneth Walker III in the transfer portal. Walker is considered a Heisman Trophy candidate through six weeks of the season after spending the last two years at Wake Forest.
Assuming a win at IU next week, Michigan State should be 7-0 heading into Michigan game. Spartans had four TDs today of at least 60 yards. They have five of those on the season, tied with … Michigan for second in the FBS.
— Heather Dinich (@CFBHeather) October 9, 2021
One of the biggest storylines in today’s game was the big plays made by Michigan State’s offense. The Spartans had touchdowns of 63 yards, 63 yards, 65 yards, and 94 yards. Three of them were passing touchdowns from Payton Thorne to Jalen Nailor while one was a rush from Kenneth Walker III
Michigan State is the fifth team in FBS history to have a 300-yard passer, a 200-yard rusher and a 200-yard receiver in the same game.
Payton Thorne: 16-of-27, 339 yards, 3 TDs
Kenneth Walker III: 29 rushes for 233 yards and a TD
Jalen Nailor: 5 catches for 221 yards and 3 TDs
— Colton Pouncy (@colton_pouncy) October 9, 2021
Michigan State’s offense put up historic numbers Saturday, becoming the fifth team ever to have a 300-yard passer, a 200-yard rusher and a 200-yard receiver in the same game.
HE WOULD NOT BE STOPPED!
Kenneth Walker III with a 94-yard TD run, the longest play from scrimmage in Michigan State football history ?? pic.twitter.com/VAIfOa6bUw
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) October 9, 2021
Walker’s 94-yard touchdown rush was a school record for the longest play from scrimmage. He entered as the nation’s leading rushed and added another 233 yards to his total on the season.
Kenneth Walker and Jalen Nailor dap up mid-touchdown. Iconic. pic.twitter.com/3po3pWR8g0
— Ian Kress (@ian_kress) October 9, 2021
Midway through Walker’s long touchdown rush, he dapped up wide receiver Jalen Nailor. The speedy wideout finished the game with five catches for 221 yards and three scores, breaking Larry Fitzgerald’s record for most receiving yards at Rutgers’ stadium.
|Annual salary||$5.5 million|
|Born||January 4, 1972
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1997–1998||Michigan State (GA)|
|1999||Miami (OH) (DB)|
|2001–2003||Ohio State (DB)|
|2004||Ohio State (co-DC)|
|2005–2007||Cleveland Browns (DB)|
|2008||Cleveland Browns (DC)|
|2009–2011||Jacksonville Jaguars (DC)|
|2011||Jacksonville Jaguars (interim)|
|2012||Jacksonville Jaguars (AHC/DC)|
|2013–2014||Chicago Bears (DC)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|As an assistant coach/coordinator:|
Melvin Tucker II (born January 4, 1972) is an American football coach and former player. He is currently the head football coach at Michigan State University. He was previously the head coach at the University of Colorado.
Tucker was the interim head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL) for five games in 2011. He has worked as the defensive backs coach at the Ohio State University and the University of Alabama and as the defensive coordinator for both the Chicago Bears of the NFL as well as the University of Georgia.
- Mel Tucker, a 25-year coaching veteran with championship experience, was named Michigan State University’s 25th head football coach on Feb. 12, 2020.
The 49-year-old Tucker is nationally recognized as a top recruiter and developer of talent, working with numerous NFL Draft selections, including 13 first-rounders, and multiple All-Americans and Pro Bowlers. He has been on staffs with some of the top collegiate coaches in the game, including Saban, Mark Dantonio, Kirby Smart and Jim Tressel.
Mel Tucker was named the 26th full-time head football coach at the University of Colorado on December 5, 2018. He came to CU from the University of Georgia, where he spent the previous three years as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach for the Bulldogs.
Tucker, 48, replaced Mike MacIntyre, who was dismissed as CU’s head coach after coaching the Buffaloes for six seasons. This is his first collegiate head coaching position.
He is not the first to be hired at Colorado with no previous collegiate head coaching experience, though he does have five games in the National Football League as an interim head coach. In the modern era (post-World War II), he joins an impressive list in Dal Ward (1948), Sonny Grandelius (1959), Eddie Crowder (1963), Bill McCartney (1982), Rick Neuheisel (1995) and Jon Embree (2011) as full-time coaches who were previously assistants. McCartney, of course, went on to become CU’s all-time winningest coach with a 93-55-5 record over 13 seasons, and all but Embree had winning records.
Tucker enjoyed a tremendous run at Georgia, where he was instrumental in the Bulldogs compiling a 32-9 record along with winning the school’s first Southeastern Conference championship in 12 years when UGA defeated Auburn in the league’s 2017 title game. One of the staff’s top recruiters, 247Sports.com ranked him as the No. 14 recruiter in the nation based off the class he helped UGA sign ahead of the 2018 season.
Georgia’s defense is currently ranked in the top 25 in several key categories, most notably in total defense (13th, 311.2 yards allowed per game), passing defense (15th, 180.5 per game) and scoring defense (15th, 18.5 points per outing).
In the 2018 SEC Championship game in which Alabama rallied to win, 35-28, his Bulldog defense held the Crimson Tide scoreless in the first quarter for the first time all season, forced a UA season-high four three-and-outs (in 12 possessions) and held its Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, to a season-worst 92.3 rating. His defenses were dialed in on third down, as the Tide was 8-of-25 in the last two games against UGA, dating back to the 2018 national championship game which Alabama also rallied to win, 26-23, in overtime.
In 2017, Tucker was part of the UGA staff that led the Bulldogs to a school record-tying 13 victories, along with the school’s first SEC championship since 2005 and first appearances in the College Football Playoff (and victory, which was over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl/CFP semifinal game) and in the College Football Playoff Championship game. Georgia’s defense finished second in the SEC and sixth nationally in both scoring defense (16.4 ppg) and in total defense (294.9 ypg), while also finishing second in the conference in rushing defense. One of his players, Roquan Smith, won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker.
In his first year at UGA, Tucker guided a Bulldog defense that ranked among the nation’s top 20 units in total defense, passing defense, turnovers gained and first down defense.
Tucker was named UGA defensive coordinator and secondary coach in January 2016, just days after winning a national championship with Alabama (which defeated Clemson 45-40 in the CFP title game). He spent that 2015 season serving as assistant head coach and defensive backs coach for the Crimson Tide, the third time he was hired by Nick Saban.
Saban gave Tucker his start in the coaching profession in 1997 when he hired him as a graduate assistant at Michigan State. He spent two seasons there, working with the defensive backs directly under another highly successful collegiate head coach in Mark Dantonio, who eventually would be named the Spartans’ head coach.
Tucker spent the 1999 season as defensive backs coach at Miami (Ohio) under Coach Terry Hoeppner. In 2000, Tucker returned to work with Saban at Louisiana State for one season before joining Jim Tressel’s staff at Ohio State for the next four years (2001-04). While in Columbus, the Buckeyes went 14-0 in 2002 and won the BCS National Championship in a thrilling overtime win over Miami, Fla. In his last season there, Tucker was elevated to co-defensive coordinator. At Ohio State, he recruited four players who would eventually be first round NFL Draft selections and the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Troy Smith.
In 2005, an opportunity emerged for him to coach in the National Football League with his hometown Cleveland Browns. The team’s new head coach, Romeo Crennel, had come over from his duties as New England’s defensive coordinator and hired Tucker to coach the secondary. After three seasons tutoring the Browns’ defensive backs, he was promoted to defensive coordinator. In that 2008 season, the Browns were second in the NFL with 23 interceptions and ranked 16th in scoring defense (21.9 points per game). For his four seasons overall with Cleveland, the Browns ranked fifth in the league with 73 interceptions, seventh in passing yards allowed and gave up the fourth-fewest completions of 25-plus yards.
Tucker moved on to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009, when Jack Del Rio hired him as his defensive coordinator and secondary coach; the following two years, he strictly coordinated the defense while consulting at all positions (called “walk arounds”). Near the end of his third year with the Jaguars, he was promoted to interim head coach for the final five games in 2011 after Del Rio was dismissed; he coached Jacksonville to a 2-3 record to end the season. Despite the team owning an overall 5-11 record, the Jags were sixth in the league in total defense that season, surrendering just 313 yards per game. He would return as the Jaguars assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the 2012 season under Mike Mularkey.
He was hired by Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman in 2013, where he would spend his last two seasons in the pro ranks. In all, he worked 10 years in the NFL, including seven as a defensive coordinator.
A 1995 graduate of the University of Wisconsin with his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business Management, he was a member of the first recruiting class for Coach Barry Alvarez. He lettered three times at both cornerback and safety from 1990-94 and was on the Badgers’ 1993 Big Ten champion team that defeated UCLA in the Rose Bowl, 21-16. As a sophomore, he made a game-saving hit in the end zone with time running out that preserved a 19-16 win at Minnesota; as a senior, he played the Buffaloes in Boulder, though UW left town with a 55-17 loss to a CU team that would finish No. 3 in the nation. He had 47 tackles and four pass deflections in his career (he missed his entire junior season after breaking a leg in fall camp).
Tucker was a member of Alvarez’ first recruiting class at Wisconsin, and remains close to this day with several teammates who have gone on to make their marks in college athletics, including Troy Vincent (the NFL executive vice president for football operations), Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts general manager), Darrell Bevell (longtime NFL offensive coordinator with Minnesota and Seattle), Joe Rudolph (Wisconsin’s associate head coach and offensive coordinator) and Duer Sharp (former commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference).
He was born Melvin Tucker II on Jan. 4, 1972 in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from Cleveland Heights High School, where he was an all-state performer in football and an all-conference basketball player (the Cleveland Plain Dealer twice named him to its all-scholastic team). He is married to the former JoEllyn Haynesworth, who earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois and her law degree from Rutgers University. The couple has two sons born on the same day (Feb. 18) two years apart, Joseph (16) and Christian (14).
AT-A-GLANCE—He has coached in 142 Division I-A (FBS) games as a full-time coach, his teams owning a record of 106-36 which include 10 bowl games (2000 Peach, 2002 Outback, 2003 Fiesta/BCS National Championship, 2004 Fiesta, 2004 Alamo, 2015 Cotton/CFP Semifinal, 2016 CFP title game, 2016 Liberty, 2018 Rose/CFP Semifinal, 2018 CFP/National Championship). He coached 160 games in the National Football League (64 with Cleveland, 64 with Jacksonville, 32 with Chicago).
NFL FIRST ROUNDERS—Tucker has coached five NFL first round draft picks along with recruiting four others:
Coached: CB Chris Gamble (Ohio State; No. 28 overall pick by Carolina, 2004 Draft); CB Donte Whitner (Ohio State; No. 6, Buffalo, 2006); CB Marlon Humphrey (Alabama; No. 16, Baltimore, 2017); S Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama; No. 11, Miami, 2018); LB Roquan Smith (Georgia; No. 8, Chicago, 2018)
Recruited: WR Ted Ginn, Jr. (Ohio State; No. 9, Miami, 2007); WR Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio State; No. 32, Indianapolis, 2007); CB Vernon Gholston (Ohio State; No. 6, N.Y. Jets, 2008); CB/S Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio State; No. 14, New Orleans, 2009).
|1997-98||Michigan State||Graduate Assistant (defense)|
|1999||Miami, Ohio||Defensive Backs|
|2000||Louisiana State||Defensive Backs|
|2001-03||Ohio State||Defensive Backs|
|2004||Ohio State||Co-Defensive Coordinator/ Defensive Backs|
|2005-07||Cleveland (NFL)||Defensive Backs|
|2008||Cleveland (NFL)||Defensive Coordinator|
|2009||Jacksonville (NFL)||Defensive Coordinator/Secondary|
|2010-11||Jacksonville (NFL)||Defensive Coordinator|
|2011||Jacksonville (NFL)||Interim Head Coach|
|2012||Jacksonville (NFL)||Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator|
|2013-14||Chicago (NFL)||Defensive Coordinator|
|2015||Alabama||Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Backs|
|Lawrence Vickers||Cleveland Browns (2006-08)||Former Buff Vickers (’05) was drafted by the Browns and spent three years on the team when Tucker was on the coaching staff.|
|Brian Iwuh||Jacksonville Jaguars (2009)||Former Buff Iwuh (’05) spent one season on the Jaguars roster.|
|Terrence Wheatley||Jacksonville Jaguars (2010)||Former Buff Wheatley (’07) spent one season on the Jaguars roster.|
|Toney Clemons||Jacksonville Jaguars (2012)||Former Buff Clemons (’11) spent part of one season on the Jaguars roster.|
|Eric Kiesau||Alabama (2015)||Kiesau was on the CU staff for Dan Hawkins (2006-10) and was an analyst on the Alabama staff with Tucker.|
|John Wooten||CU (1955-58)||Father (Mel Tucker) is long-time good friend of Wooten and the family.|
|Wilmer Cooks||CU (1964-67)||Father (Mel Tucker) is long-time good friend of Cooks and the family.|