Transfer LB Chase Kline: "I want to win. No matter what."
The former Michigan State Spartan looks to be a leader at Eastern Michigan right away.
During the early signing period, Eastern Michigan added a select handful of high school recruits, and even fewer transfers through the transfer portal to start to fill out its 2022 signing class. Of the seven new footballers to sign their letters of intent to join the Eagles last month, Chase Kline expects to be a leader from Day 1.
“I just want to come in and show them how hard I can work, show them all I’m willing to do for this program and earn their respect,” Kline told The Ypsilanti Eleven. “I’ll push them and push them to get the best that we can. Just looking for a very successful 2022 season.”
Kline joins EMU as a transfer from Michigan State with two years of eligibility remaining. Kline entered the transfer portal on Sept. 27, 2021 after four games played last season. During his time in the transfer portal, Kline also had offers from Arkansas State, Eastern Kentucky, Miami OH, Purdue, South Dakota, Western Kentucky, and Youngstown State.
Leading up to Early Signing Day on Dec. 15, Kline made some trips to ASU, Purdue, and WKU, but his final trip to EMU sealed the linebacker’s decision.
In high school (Westlake, Ohio / Chardon HS), Kline had a 247sports composite ranking of a high-level, three-star recruit. Rivals considered him a 4-star linebacker for the class of 2018 when he picked MSU over Boston College, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dartmouth, Harvard, Iowa State, Minnesota, Ohio, Penn, Princeton, Purdue, Syracuse, Temple, Toledo, and Yale. By composite rankings, Kline was the 15th-ranked player from the state of Ohio, No. 23 inside linebacker.
“I’ve always thought they were a blue-collar, tough school. Coach [Chris] Creighton’s a fantastic coach, along with (associate head coach, defensive coordinator, and linebackers coach) Neal Neathery. I think they’ve really got something good going on,” said Kline. “That’s what I thought of them coming out of high school: I thought they were honest, good men. And nothing’s changed. If anything it’s just been re-affirmed over this process.
“Coach [Chuck] Bullough, who was my coach over at Michigan State, now he’s an analytics guy for Eastern, he was also helpful and very happy to contact me when I was in the portal. They know I’m a two-time captain at Michigan State, they know I’m a leader so they’re looking at me to come in, be a leader, work hard, earn the respect of my teammates, and help push them to a MAC championship. I believe they’re only a couple pieces away, and I’m one of them.”
During the 2020 season, when Mel Tucker was in his first year as MSU’s head coach, Kline played in every game for MSU with 35-50 snaps logged in four of MSU’s seven games on the year. In 2021, the snap counts for Kline’s four games played went 27, 21, 21, and 5. (Snap counts via PFF.com.)
In three seasons at MSU (19 games), Kline recorded 52 total tackles (20 solo), 2 for loss, 1.5 sacks, and forced two fumbles during the 2020 campaign.
Given the development and production that he had through the coaching change, Kline thought he deserved a better shot than what he ended up experiencing in East Lansing, Mich.
“To be frank, I was lied to. I was treated unfair and wasn’t given the opportunity to help the Spartans with my talents. That was my main reason [to transfer],” Kline said. “I was a Dantonio guy, not a Tucker recruit. I mean, it is what it is, but every time I stepped on the field I made my plays. I’m not really concerned about it, just looking for the coach that recruited me and that I want to be with.”
On the field, Kline aims to mimic some of the greats that he sees every Sunday. At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, Kline models his game after the similarly-built Ohio-native Luke Kuechly, a former 5-time All-Pro linebacker with the Carolina Panthers.
“But one thing that I have that he didn’t is that I can pass rush, I can line up on the edge,” Kline said.
“One of my favorite players of all time growing up was Lawrence Taylor — the best linebacker of all time. So those two are my favorite that I try to model my game after, but it’s a culmination of so many guys and so many things that I try to emulate and take from them. There’s a lot of good players out there.”
Kline wants to play like one of the best in his technique and defensive skillset, but he attributes the singular best part about his game to his mindset. Kline says he’s a lot like former Oakland Raiders coach-turned-owner Al Davis: “I want to win. No matter what.”
While Kline’s maturity and work ethic certainly stands out, and his Al Davis-like mindset of “Just win, baby” is a positive corner that this program would love to finally turn. Eastern Michigan has yet to a MAC Championship for football.
Kline, of course, expects to be on the field right away for the Eagles in 2022. With Terry Myrick’s graduation, there’s a clear opening for EMU to add some talent to the linebacker room. Myrick was the team’s starting WILL while Tariq Speights, returning senior, was the team’s starting MIKE in 2021.
Aside: the other transfer EMU accepted in the early signing period is a Joe Sparacio, a senior linebacker from Boston College. So there’s going to be a lot more instant, added talent to EMU’s linebacker room in 2022.
EMU’s other senior linebacker still on roster from 2021 is Luke Cameron, a rotational player that’s played in every game over the last two years. Cameron came over from Army after the 2018 season.
Kline’s first going to work his way into get the respect of his locker room in 2022, but ultimately he’s confident that he’s going to make an impact in more ways than one. He plans on making loud stops on the field, and he’s challenging his teammates to do the same.
“I want to be MAC champs. You have to speak it into existence, you’ve got to expect it every day, you’ve got to come in every day working towards that common goal. And that’s what I’ll do with my teammates. It’s not “rah-rah”, getting in their face, nothing like that. At first it’s all about earning their respect, coming in with my pale and lunchbox, with that blue collar attitude, working my butt off and expecting the same from them.”
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