Three undrafted Michigan State players signed free agent contracts in the early hours of Saturday evening, to go along with Bryce Baringer (sixth round) and Ameer Speed (sixth round) being drafted by the New England Patriots earlier in the day.
THE BOOK ON HORST
Horst was previously drafted No. 1 overall in the USFL Draft on Feb. 21 by the Michigan Panthers. The Panthers identified Horst as the player they felt was most likely to go undrafted by the NFL but remain as a player of value for their team in a lesser league.
But before Horst filters to the USFL, he will be given a shot with the Dolphins.
In 2021, he earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades by both coaches and media after starting eight games for a Spartan team that went 11-2 and defeated Pittsburgh in the Peach Bowl.
Sources tell SpartanMag.com that Horst returned home to Middleton, Wis., following Michigan State’s victory over Michigan in week eight of the 2021 season and finished his academic work online. He returned to the team for the Peach Bowl and was in uniform for that game, but did not play. He briefly stayed on the field for the postgame trophy celebration but left the field, seemingly distraught.
Horst returned to the Spartans in 2022 for a fifth year of eligibility, after playing two seasons at Arkansas State and one season at Ellsworth (Iowa) Community College.
Horst was solid-to-functional for most of his 16 starts at Michigan State, with a good frame and decent athleticism. He exits college and heads to the pro ranks with some upside potential to chase, but needs to prove he can stay grounded.
THE BOOK ON SLADE
Slade was one of the more underrated players in the Big Ten during his three years as a starter at Michigan State, proving to be sturdy against double-teams in taking on the run, and had deceptive closing quickness and surprising ability to run the hoop at the top of his pass rushes.
As a redshirt junior in 2021, he was named first-team All-Big Ten by Pro Football Focus, and was second-team by the Associated Press, third-team by media and honorable mention by the coaches.
PFF graded him out unofficially at 86.1 for the year, the best by any Spartan defensive player in 2021.
His 40 quarterback pressures, according to PFF, were the most by any Big Ten interior defensive lineman in 2021 and tied for No. 10 in the FBS.
After collecting 1.5 sacks and 2.0 TFLs in the Peach Bowl, he was named to the AP All-Bowl Team.
As a senior in 2022, Slade missed four straight games due to an undisclosed lower body injury sustained against Akron in week two.
Despite missing four games, he still earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors from media and coaches.
THE BOOK ON BROOKS
Brooks emerged as a surprisingly capable replacement starter for the Spartans at safety in 2022. He was forced into duty at free safety after senior captain Xavier Henderson went down in game one with an injury and missed the next five games.
When Henderson returned, Brooks slid over to strong safety and started next to him for the last four games of the season.
Brooks tied for eighth in the FBS with three forced fumbles and ranked second on the team with 100 tackles.
Brooks transferred to Michigan State from North Greenville (S.C.) University prior to the 2021 season.
Brooks (6-0, 215, Swansea, S.C.) played only 26 snaps on defense for Michigan State in 2021. He wasn’t regarded as a likely member of the playing group heading into the 2022 season but was quickly thrust into a starting role due to Henderson’s injury and played well enough to make people wonder why he wasn’t part of the playing group in 2021.
But he did enough in 2022, and performed well enough at Michigan State’s Pro Day and in private workouts, to earn a free agent invitation from several teams, opting to sign with the Cardinals.
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