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December 2, 2007

Jehuu Caulcrick

Pete Clifford

Mark Dantonio

Travis Key

Tony Martin

Kaleb Thornhill

COACH DANTONIO: Thank you very much, and first of all, I want to thank Mark Hollis and all the work he's done and our administration for getting us here. We're very, very excited about the opportunity to go to Orlando and play in the Champs Bowl against Boston College. Boston College is a football team that has been ranked in the top 20 throughout the entire year, currently No. 14, outstanding quarterback, outstanding defense against the run. It will be a tremendous challenge for us. I know our players are very, very excited about the opportunity.
We set out this year with simple goals in mind, that we have to first bring back respect from our fans, bring back that respect, and because of that, I felt resolve throughout the entire season from our football team and our players. And we were in every game, as Mark has said. You know, our goal was very specifically to win eight, very simply to go down there and win. We will represent in every respect down there in Orlando. I have great memories of Orlando, having been to the Citrus Bowl in 2000, and that memory along with my girls and my family is very vivid in our minds.
TONY MARTIN: This is Tony Martin from Orlando. I think I've spoken to you folks a good bit here in the last ten days, but I'm the chairman of the selection committee for the Champs Sports Bowl.
COACH DANTONIO: It's great to talk to you again. I just mentioned you were our host when we were down there in 2000 and we're looking forward to coming back.
TONY MARTIN: Let's make this official. On behalf of Florida Citrus Sports and over 200 scouts, many of them which are here with us this evening, and Champs Sports, it is my pleasure to invite the Michigan State Spartans to the 2007 Champs Sports Bowl held on December 28th at 5:00 o'clock in beautiful downtown Orlando.
COACH DANTONIO: We're very grateful and we will do you proud.
TONY MARTIN: I'll tell you what, you all have worked the phones as well as any club in the 27 years that I've been doing this as a volunteer, and it always, always pays off. We're excited to have the Michigan State Spartans here. You've been here before, so you know our capabilities, and it's going to be exciting to see a second team from Michigan in one of our Bowl games this year.
COACH DANTONIO: Thank you very much. We will represent you down there in a first-class way and are looking forward to coming down to the city of Orlando and playing Boston College. Thank you very much.
TONY MARTIN: Would you tell the last person from Michigan just turn out the lights and they'll bring the flag and we'll set up shop down here for a week in Orlando?
With that I'd like to bring up our captains. It's all about our football team and our players. Our players have done the work. Our seniors have led and done an outstanding job doing that through tough times, through good times, and I'd like to bring them up one at a time and just have them just get their reaction on everything. So let's start with Jehuu Caulcrick.
JEHUU CAULCRICK: Well, we're going to Disney World (laughter). It was just an honor for us. We were sitting back there talking, we've been talking the whole year, none of us ever played in a Bowl game. We didn't know who we were playing, but after that Penn State game we knew we were going to a Bowl game. That was all part of the process, waiting it out to see who you're playing.
We enjoyed the past couple days, but we really wanted to know who we were going to play, and nobody would tell us anything, but Mr. Hollis and his group there, they did a tremendous job in lobbying for us to have the opportunity to play in this game. We're very excited about it and looking forward to it.

Q. When did you and the team find out? Was it tonight, just now over there? Did you guys know who you were playing before you came here?
JEHUU CAULCRICK: Yeah, we found out tonight just when we came in.

Q. What was the reaction of you guys?
JEHUU CAULCRICK: Very excited, very much excited. Just going somewhere warm for Christmas.

Q. We talked to you guys after the Penn State game and we said, where do you guys want to go, and you guys said, we don't care where we go, we just want to go to a Bowl game. But in actuality were you really thinking back then, we want to go somewhere warm?
JEHUU CAULCRICK: You know, at the time we had just made it to a Bowl game and we were just honored with the fact we get to play our 13th game. We get another month to spend with each other. Some people on the team would never get to play football again. We get to lengthen that football career for another month. That's the most exciting part about it.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
JEHUU CAULCRICK: Yeah, definitely, it was nice to go to a beach instead of going -- I don't know. But yeah, it's definitely nice to be going to Florida.
KALEB THORNHILL: I just want to thank the Champs Bowl, as well, and Mark Hollis. I know you put in a lot of work, and Coach D and the whole staff. It's just an honor, like Jehuu said, to be playing with these guys one more time, and to have the opportunity to do that is priceless. I'm telling you, this team is something special, means something special to me, means something special to be playing with these coaches and understanding that we do have an opportunity to play a 13th game and to have an opportunity to win eight ballgames like Coach D said.

Q. Just talk about with all you've been through in your career and talk about how this is coming to an end?
KALEB THORNHILL: It is coming to an end, and it's good that obviously we're playing, like I said, because I get to play with these guys one more time. I can't tell you how special these guys are, every one of them. The coaching staff has done a tremendous job this year of getting us prepared every game. It's a reward to the whole team to be able to have an opportunity like this.
I went down to Orlando when my brother played. It's a great atmosphere to play in, and the whole week leading up to it is awesome. Obviously I can't wait for it. It's kind of like a dream. But it's awesome.

Q. You have been to Disney World?
KALEB THORNHILL: I have been. I went there with the team in 2000 when my brother played there. It's crazy to experience it. I never thought that I'd be playing for Michigan State, I really didn't, and just to watch those guys -- I'm a small guy, I didn't have much size, but I developed. But just to watch those guys and watch the excitement of the game was just awesome, but yeah, I have been to Disney World?

Q. You hadn't been there before like on vacation?
KALEB THORNHILL: No, we drove down there. They drove us to Florida. We didn't fly anywhere because my dad was scared to fly so we'd drive everywhere, but it was fun.

Q. How much are you going to cherish every last practice and meeting and last time you're ever going to play with these guys?
KALEB THORNHILL: That's the best thing about this. It didn't matter where we were going. I get to deal with these guys one more time. I can't tell you how special these guys are. They've done a great job, them and the whole staff. It's just a special season. It's a reward to be playing with these guys for a 13th game overall and a chance to win our eighth game. That's the best thing that we can do is play with these guys and win an eighth game.
TRAVIS KEY: Man, I've been smiling for about 15 minutes here nonstop. I'll try to hold it down a little bit.
First off, I just want to thank Mr. Mark Hollis for all that he's done for us this year, Coach D and his staff. Without those guys leading us, we obviously wouldn't be at the point that we're at today. And I want to thank my fellow captains for doing a great job leading these young guys and leading this team to a successful season.
I really can't explain how excited I am, how excited we are, for having this opportunity to go down and play our eighth game or get an opportunity to win our eighth game down in Orlando. We're excited about the whole thing. We've been talking to each other and laughing and joking trying to anticipate this moment right here, but it really takes your breath away when you really get the big news.
I'm just honored to be a Spartan on this day. Are there any questions?

Q. I know you a lot of times analyze the match-ups, but any thoughts on playing Boston College, a Heisman candidate quarterback, a guy who threw for 327 yards a game?
TRAVIS KEY: Well, I've seen him. I've watched them on TV a couple times this year. They have a great program down there. They have a great team. You mentioned Matt Ryan. He's an awesome quarterback. Obviously he was in the running for the Heisman Trophy, so he has to be pretty good to be on that list.
I mean, we respect those guys, and I'm pretty confident in the fact that these coaches are going to get us ready, put together a pretty solid game plan, and we're going to be prepared and ready to go.
PETE CLIFFORD: I'd just like to say I'm pretty excited about this. I'd like to thank Coach, Mr. Hollis for everything he's done. I'm just excited to go down to Florida and play this match-up.
Boston College is probably one of the only colleges I can call like one of the home teams there because I'm from New Hampshire so that's one of the only big-time schools that's around my area, so it's going to be exciting for me. There's a couple kids from New Hampshire on that team, and I think it'll be a fun match-up. My buddies from home will probably be split on who to root for, but hopefully they'll be rooting for us, and it's going to be exciting to play another game with these guys, and I'm just proud of the fact that we got chosen for this Bowl game.

Q. Did you at all root for Boston College at all in your lifetime growing up?
PETE CLIFFORD: Yeah, like I said, pretty much it's the only team that's pretty close to New Hampshire other than the University of New Hampshire, but that's not really -- I used to root for them and one of my friends has season tickets, but I'm looking forward to playing against them and hopefully going down there and get a W.

Q. For Coach it's a business trip. For the players there will be some fun involved. I'm sure you'll meet Mickey Mouse and Goofy and all those people. How do you make it a business trip and still mix in some fun as a player?
PETE CLIFFORD: There will be some stuff set up to have fun, but we know how to turn that off and go about our business and get to practice and stuff. We don't want to go down there and lose, so we're going to be ready to practice, we're going to take everything serious and go down there and try to get the W.
COACH DANTONIO: I just want to mention that Pete is an outstanding fan of everybody in Boston, the Red Sox, the Bruins, everybody, the Celtics. I'm just glad he's rooting for us.
I know our players will be very excited about this. I know after the Penn State game we knew we were going to a Bowl game, and it didn't matter where. We were going to make it a great experience for our guys and certainly we're going to have some fun down there, as well. I can still remember when my youngest went to Disney World and she was Cindy Lou Who in a play down there. We'll have a good time.

Q. Coach, for the average fan who isn't on the recruiting trail with you, talk about what this has meant, obviously what this whole getting to these Bowl games means and how has it impacted recruiting?
COACH DANTONIO: I think it's a chance to begin taking the steps towards getting to where we eventually want to be, which is a championship. I think the fact that Illinois today is in the Rose Bowl, Rose Bowl gives our guys some evidence that it can happen. It can turn from a 2-and-10 football team as of last year and go to the Rose Bowl. Things can happen in this world of college football. It's amazing when you saw what happened last night, some of the things that Pitt was able to do against West Virginia. It's a very competitive world out there as evidenced by every game that we played this year.
You know, we can talk about that, we can talk about the beginning of our program as we move into the recruiting phases, and it gives us proof that we're heading in the right direction. It'll be an exciting ride.

Q. What was this weekend like for you, kind of the ups and downs? I'm sure you were following some of the games and trying to figure out where you were going and who you were playing.
COACH DANTONIO: I was listening to Mark a little bit and trying to figure it out, but really our focus was on recruiting this weekend. We had a lot of recruits in so we were pretty busy. We went to the basketball game last night and they played outstanding.
You know, we're just focusing on the moment, really. I'm always a believer that you deal with things as they come to you, so I took a nap about an hour and a half ago and came on down.
But we'll be ready for this football game, and I can tell you that. We're also going to have a great time down there, guys, but we're going to represent, and we need to be focused to do that.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
COACH DANTONIO: I think it was about 1:30.
Thanks so much for coming and for all your support this year. This has been an outstanding football season for us, and it's not over yet. We'll let our guys go tonight and we'll meet in the morning. See you then. Thanks.

End of FastScripts
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