Nick Chudler hopes to play football again, but it won’t be at Michigan State.
Nick Chudler hopes to play football again, but it won’t be at Michigan State. (Michigan State University)

After some soul-searching and talks with his family, the 21-year-old Michigan State University senior from Novi entered the NCAA’s transfer portal to see if he could find a landing spot as a graduate transfer student with one year of eligibility.

Nick Chudler thought his football career was over.

He was recovering well after undergoing specialized spinal fusion back surgery May 3 at a hospital in New Jersey, one of only a few hospitals in the country where the surgery is done, “but I didn’t think I’d be cleared to play football,” he said.

Not after doctors in New Jersey went in through his right side and installed tethers and eight screws in his spine.

Then Chudler went to Beaumont Hospital in Farmington Hills during Thanksgiving week for a six-month post-surgery checkup.

“I was curious, so I asked if I could play football again,” he said.

The answer from the Beaumont medical professionals surprised him. Yes, he could play football again.

After some soul-searching and talks with his family, the 21-year-old Michigan State University senior from Novi entered the NCAA’s transfer portal to see if he could find a landing spot as a graduate transfer student with one year of eligibility.

Filing the paperwork added his name to the list of MSU football players entering the portal that was reported in newspapers statewide in early December, even though Chudler wasn’t on the Spartans’ roster in 2020 or 2021.

“That was a surprise to see my name in those stories,” he said.

Chudler came to MSU as a preferred walk-on in 2018, fulfilling a lifelong dream.

The long-snapper was on the Spartans’ roster in 2018 and 2019, but he didn’t get into any games.

He left the team after the 2019 season because of his bad back and the departure of the coaches who knew him, and he didn’t play in 2020 or 2021.

Chudler has one semester of classes remaining at MSU, with plans to graduate in May with a degree in health communications.

If he transfers, he said, he’d pursue a master’s degree at his new school, and most likely be strictly a long-snapper for his new football team.

“If a good opportunity comes along, with a chance to play football while getting some scholarship money, I will 100% consider it,” he said. “I’m not picky.”

Chudler said while he’s still sore from his surgery, he’s been working out pain-free for about a month and half and feeling his strength returning.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder has practiced long-snapping since his surgery and he recently participated in a wrestling team practice at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, his former high school.

He was a football and wrestling standout at OLSM.

“If I can wrestle, I can play football,” he said.  

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