The following is part of a series of articles heading into signing day offering a brief update and refresher course on members of Michigan State's 2014 recruiting class:
Chris Frey brought his talents to Michigan State at mid-semester as an early-enrollee, and began winter conditioning with the rest of the Spartans this week.
The 6-foot-2, 215 pound linebacker from Upper Arlington (Ohio) High School verbally committed to Michigan State on May 15. The three-star recruit is ranked the No. 38 player in Ohio by Rivals.com.
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Mark Dantonio will comment on Frey and other members of the incoming 2014 recruiting class during the signing day press conference on Wednesday.
Because Frey is already enrolled, Dantonio was able to comment on Frey three weeks ago.
"He plays extremely hard," Dantonio said. "I think he is a Chris Spielman type throwback. Everywhere he goes, he is making his presence felt and I think he will do that this spring."
Frey doesn't have Spielman's size, but his tenacity and commitment to the game was Spielman-esque at the high school level. Spielman just happened to be a mentor for Frey's during his high school development - as Frey attended high school with Spielman's son.
Spielman has known Dantonio well since Dantonio's days as defensive coordinator at Ohio State in the early 2000s. Spielman gave Michigan State and Dantonio a quick endorsement when the Spartans started to become increasingly interested in Frey.
Michigan State first started looking at Frey during his sophomore season and offered him during the spring of his junior year.
"I went on a visit for the Notre Dame game last year (in 2012)," Frey said. "They told me I needed to put on weight and get a little bigger, if I wanted to play Big Ten linebacker."
As is customary for Frey, he stopped what he was doing, listened to the coaches and focused on carrying out orders and expectations.
"I stopped playing basketball and stopped running track and focused on playing football, and get bigger faster and stronger," Frey said. "It paid off in the long run. I got the offer that I wanted all along."
Before he made his decision, he was down to Kentucky, Purdue, Michigan State and Boston College.
"I made a visit to all those schools," Frey said. "I had it down to Kentucky and Michigan State. When it came down to it, it was the top defense in the nation, (had gone to) six or seven straight bowl games and (had the) top defense in the Big Ten compared to a school that's struggling right now. I want to play for a great defense, a great defensive coordinator and a great coaching staff and that's what I made my decision off of."
That was before MSU took it's nationally-ranked defense up a level in 2013 for a memorable run to the Rose Bowl.
He was in contact with the MSU coaches on a regular basis prior to enrolling in January.
"Most of the time, they talked to me about my graduation because I was graduating early," Frey said.
MSU coaches informed Frey that MSU would have only six linebackers on scholarship when he arrived for winter conditioning and spring practice, "which means you have a high chance of playing your freshman year. We're not going to redshirt you. We want you on the field your freshman year. We want you to make plays, so you're ready when other guys graduate and you can step up and know where you need to be on the college level."
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The Spartans return only four linebackers with playing experience: Taiwan Jones, Ed Davis, Darien Harris and Riley Bullough. Redshirt freshman Jon Reschke and Shane Jones are also in the picture.
Frey will be joined in the 2014 class by fellow freshmen Byron Bullough and Deon Drake. On signing day morning, the Spartans are also hoping to get a commitment from Tampa Catholic athlete T.J. Harrell, a strong-boned, 6-foot-2 banger who stars at running back and safety at the high school level but could project as a freakish slot-area linebacker.
Frey is expected to be a step ahead of the other incoming linebackers, if he has a productive spring practice.
Even with MSU's thinned-out numbers at linebacker, Frey will be a long shot to earn a role in the two-deep. But bodies like his will be needed on special teams.
Frey said he's looking forward to working with members of the incoming recruiting class.
"They're like brothers to me already and I've only met them a few times," he said.
Frey started at linebacker for three years in high school.
"They expected me to be a playmaker and leader on the defense," he said. "I'm a really verbal player. I'm always out there on the field talking, trying to help the other guys on where they need to be and tell them what to do if they need help."
Frey was also on the field for Upper Arlington to make the big plays.
"On the field, I expect myself to be there and the coaches expect me to be there," Frey said. "My coaches expected me to be a great leader. I'm expected to be there when big plays are needed."
Frey said his main strength in high school was reading the offense and recognizing where the play is going.
"I was pretty good at pass (defense) and I like to make big hits," he said. "I like to make the open tackles in the field."
MSU doesn't recruit defensive players who aren't exceptional tacklers. Although Frey was on the small side as a younger player, he showed excellent defensive acumen and grow into being an intriguing prospect.
His most memorable player of the year came against Cincinnati Elder:
"The quarterback got a bad snap, went to throw it and I made a big hit," he said. "We were down 21-0 at the time. Our defensive end picked it up and scored a touchdown. I think it was my best play this year. We ended up losing the game, but that was a big momentum changer and it put us back in the game."
Frey also started at running back. His longest run was 86 yards for a touchdown.
"I think my main strength (as a running back) was field vision in reading holes," he said. "That helps me as a linebacker in reading the quarterback and reading the running back and making a play off that."
Frey's junior highlights, when he was about 200 pounds: