Spartan Offensive Lineman Jared McGaha Has Impact on and Off the Field

Jared McGaha the fifth year senior from Powell, Tennessee was not a happy person after the Spartans got beat down in the Capital One Bowl against Alabama. In fact he was so angry that all winter he used it as motivation for himself and the rest of the offensive line.

He told me recently after practice that he continually asks himself and the rest of the line, “Are we going to let that happen to us again?” Losing to Nick Saban like that certainly stings for the Spartan Nation for obvious reasons. But for a youngster raised among the throngs of the color orange in the land of the Volunteers it has it’s own unique sting. In Tennessee one thing is certain whether or not you root for the Volunteers: you hate Alabama.

It seems like yesterday this stand up young man with the Tennessee drawl showed up in East Lansing and now he is a fifth year senior. Time flies.

It has been a privilege watching this fine young man grow up; he now has his last go around and last opportunity on the Spartan offensive line. With his offensive line coach of four years now leading the offense (Dan Roushar), he certainly is fired up this spring.

He said of the Roushar move, “A lot of people in the locker room joke we are going to run the ball 60 minutes a game.”

Now the microscope falls on McGaha. He is surrounded with youth all around him.  He now has to reflect this spring on what he has to do to win a position and keep it as a starter.  He has yet to land and retain a starting spot, but it doesn’t mean this fifth year senior doesn’t have a handle on the OL and isn’t a leader. He bragged about the depth and talent of the OL when he commented about their personality, “A bunch of workers. Every day is a workday. That is what we approach this as.”

One of the many things I have always liked about Jared is the fact that he looks at his own game with brutal honesty. When asked what he has learned over his first four years in East Lansing he didn’t hesitate in saying, “Being able to carry out and last a whole season. Being able to stay healthy a whole season.”

McGaha knows that he is in the biggest battle of his career, but he doesn’t waffle.  He puts it all on himself, which is admirable. About a starting spot he said it’s, “Mine for the taking unless someone beats me.”

Not every player is a starter. OL Coach Mark Staten even admitted to me last week that there are guys on this team that would have started in year one and year two of the Dantonio regime that won’t play now. McGaha doesn’t care and isn’t concerned. He is all about team and said that his mindset isn’t on him, it is on the team.

So what does this southern gentleman say is his mindset? “Anything can happen and I have to be ready to play every position.”

No one knows if McGaha will be a starter when the September 3, 2011 kickoff commences. What we do know is that championship teams are built with depth, character and talent. McGaha has a lot of football left, but MSU is better for having had this young man stop bye East Lansing for five years.