The offensive line is vital to any football team, but it turned into a liability often times last year for the Michigan State Spartans. Whether it was protecting the quarterback, creating holes for the running backs, or simply just staying healthy, it was very much a struggle.
The team learned on Tuesday that they will be one lineman short entering the 2017 season, as freshman Thiyo Lukusa is reportedly leaving the program.
Offensive lineman Thiyo Lukusa quits Michigan State football team after true freshman season https://t.co/2Jd5WbU6xl
— Chris Solari (@chrissolari) February 7, 2017
Lukusa said that among the major reasons for his departure from the program, and the school, is a lack of passion for the game and a sense of being homesick.
“I really haven’t been in love with football since I was in high school,” Lukusa said via phone. “It’s been awhile, probably since I was a sophomore or junior. I went home for Christmas and had a great time with my family Up North — just being away from football and doing other things and working out and playing basketball and running.
“I had been thinking about not playing for a long time. I finally just decided that I’m gonna go through with it and kind of weather the storm, whatever it brings.”
“I’m very grateful for opportunity they gave me at Michigan State and will forever cherish that chance,” Lukusa said. “I’m definitely not passionate enough about football right now to have my life revolve around it. I wasn’t happy. Football was a big portion of my life for a long time. And to give it up was hard to me.
“For me, the hardest part was giving up my friendships and the relationships I built at Michigan State. That was the hardest part for me. Football, at this point in my life, is kind of take-it-or-leave-it.”
The Traverse City native Lukusa played his senior season at a high school in New Jersey before enrolling at MSU. Before that, he was a student at Traverse City West for three years. He says he is already enrolled at Northwestern Michigan College in his hometown of Traverse City to pursue an associate degree in criminal justice, while working multiple jobs.
The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Lukusa was one of nine true freshman to see the field for Michigan State this past season. In the Mark Dantonio era, it was very rare to see true freshman start on the offensive line. Never in his first seven seasons as the Spartans head coach did it happen, but Lukusa became the second in the last three seasons. His exit means a bigger load for the incumbent linemen, led by senior Brian Allen, and the incoming lineman, led by 4-star commit Kevin Jarvis, who is one of five future freshman on the line for MSU.
It’s a young and inexperienced group up front, as if it wasn’t a major point of emphasis for 2017 already.