July 18, 2011

Former Under Armour All-America transfers to MSU

EAST LANSING - Michigan State received and unexpected addition to its corps of linemen when former Vanderbilt player and Under Armour high school All-American James Kittredge transferred to Michigan State earlier this summer. It became public knowledge this week that Kittredge has enrolled at Michigan State and is attending summer classes.

Kittredge is not yet officially a member of Michigan State's football team, but he hopes to become a part of the team next month and practice with the scout team this fall. If so, he would have a chance to become part of the active roster in 2012. He is working out with Spartan players this summer.

Kittredge saw action as a second-string center and guard last fall as a true freshman at Vanderbilt. He was listed as a defensive line prospect coming out of Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., but made an immediate splash on the offensive side of the ball.

"I played in five or six games last year, rotating at center," Kittredge said. "It would be great to get a chance to play defensive line (at Michigan State), but just the ability to play would be awesome. I would love to play d-line, but I'd love to play in general and earn my way onto the field."

Kittredge was held out of spring football at Vanderbilt this year, according to NashvilleCityPaper.com, due to a violation of university rules. He was not expected to be part of the Commodore football team this fall due to the rules violation but could have stayed and petitioned for reinstatement in January. Instead, he sought a transfer and a clean break.

"Michigan State was one of the schools I had a strong interest in before I committed to Vanderbilt," Kittredge said. "We were in contact during my junior year in high school, and in the summer. We have known each other. The history of the program was something that interested me.

"When I got my release from Vanderbilt and I got in contact with the Michigan State coaches and asked for an official visit, they had me come up for a visit, and that took place two months ago," he said.

Kittredge was ranked the No. 13 player in New Jersey by Rivals.com as a high school senior. The three-star recruit committed to Vanderbilt in the summer of 2009 over offers from Michigan State, Virginia, Rutgers, South Carolina, Maryland, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, UCLA, Louisville, Colorado and North Carolina State. Notre Dame offered in the weeks prior to signing day and attempted to get him to flip to the Irish, but he stuck to his Vanderbilt commitment.

Vanderbilt, a private institution, never released specifics on the rules violation. Kittredge is aware of rumors and speculation on internet message boards about the suspension.

"People talk about whatever they think or heard or whatever, but it is more of a personal choice at this time in my life," Kittredge said. "I don't really have any comments about that."

Kittredge met with Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio during his visit to East Lansing.

"One of the things he said was that I've got to earn my way onto the team just like anybody else would, and make the best of it," said Kittredge, who was a 3.3 student at Don Bosco Prep.

Dantonio is unavailable for interviews this week. He will attend Big Ten media days next week in Chicago.

Kittredge indicated that he enrolled at Michigan State with no guarantees about a scholarship. He is expected to be a non-scholarship player this fall.

"Honestly, we haven't really discussed that," he said. "I've just been focused on getting to school and getting with the team. A scholarship would be great, but I haven't handled that part of it."

Kittredge played in the Under Armour All-American Game, in January of 2010. He and current Spartan defensive end William Gholston were teammates in the all-star game. Kittredge played defensive tackle in the game.

"I am not too sure if we were on the field at the same time, but I absolutely remember him," Kittredge said of Gholston. "We were working out today, as a matter of fact. We have talked. It's good. He remembered me, and we had some good laughs about that."

Eight months after that all star game, Kittredge impressed Vanderbilt coaches during August camp.

"He looks like a natural," then-Vanderbilt head coach Robbie Caldwell said of Kittredge, last Aug. 20. “I tell you what … I wouldn't be scared to start him in the first game. He may beat (Joey Bailey) out anyway. He's just that physical and that hard.

"If he knew, he'd be taking a job from somebody right now. All he needs is a little more knowledge."

Kittredge split time with fifth-year senior Joey Bailey at the outset of last season. Later, Bailey and Kittredge moved to offensive guard.

"The kid in front of me was a fifth-year senior and the coaches said they liked how I was out-working him, but the other guy had the mental aspect in his favor," Kittredge said. "The center position was real challenge to learn. And as soon as I got that down, it was easier to get things squared away."

Kittredge is eager to gain acceptance on the Spartan football team.

"I just want to work hard, get adjusted with the team, make some friends and get everything squared away with school," he said. "I love the atmosphere, the energy for Spartans around here, a real great atmosphere. It's been a good summer; it's energetic. I'm very excited."

Kittredge played at 6-4, 270 last fall, but has dropped to 265 this summer as a part of Michigan State's summer workout program.

"It's been real hard work," he said. "Is it similar to Vanderbilt's workouts? I wouldn't say so. I would say it's quite different. The pace is faster. It's almost like unique lifting; I really like the momentum of it.

"I'm very impressed with the team. I love being here and being around the guys. The best feeling in the world is to be part of a team and I'm just glad for the opportunity to be part of one, and hopefully we can all work together and I can get closer to everyone as the year goes along."

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