The MSU program has changed a lot since Trenton Robinson was forced to play eight games as a true freshman in 2008. Robinson has never been one to mince words, and now with his final game at Spartan Stadium coming up this Saturday, Robinson can look back on how the program has grown.
Only two true freshmen are playing this year, linebacker Taiwan Jones (mostly on special teams) and long-snapper Matt Giampapa.
"That's what's crazy. They can actually redshirt freshmen. Taiwan might be the only one in that class that didn't redshirt, and he' s a freak. They could have done it with more guys, but they didn't have to. That's always a good thing for a coach to let those guys really develop into their bodies. It's a great thing."
As for when the program took that next step, it seems to be when Greg Jones announced he would come back for his senior year to win a championship. That came after the fracas at Rather Hall that resulted in the "transfer" of several players and the loss in the Alamo Bowl that followed. The mindset in the program changed after that.
"We were just disappointed with that year (6-7 in 2009). We were supposed to come in and be (one of the top teams in the Big Ten) and I'm not sure if we let that go to our heads or what, but we were disappointed with it. We came back and we decided we're going to work harder than we ever worked. We had guys out here doing stuff, everybody was pushing everyone.
"When Greg, he's a stand-up guy, says, 'I'm not going to go to the NFL because I want a Big Ten championship.' This man stayed back from millions of dollars, because he had a great year (in 2009), like No. 2 linebacker in the country. And he's like, 'I'm staying back to win a Big Ten championship. Money means nothing.' You have guys do that, and if you're not going to lay it all on the line every time you get on the field or workouts or something, you shouldn't be on this team. I felt like everybody worked hard."
Is that attitude still there?
"Yes. That is carrying on. Everybody lays it on the line every time. We've got guys who are out there so banged up stil banging. We want this so bad, it doesn't matter what's wrong with any of us. We're going to get it."
As for the future, the goals for this season are still in reach. After that? The sky's the limit.
"I just want us to continue to win and win a Rose Bowl, win a bowl game. Let's do something bigger than everything. Let's do something bigger than that. Let's win a Big Ten championship and then a Rose Bowl. Next year, let those guys get out and win a national championship. That's the type of stuff that I want to see."
The media will miss you, Trent.