By MIKE ECKERT
TRAVERSE CITY — For almost a year, Riley Bullough knew that he would be signing his national letter-of-intent to play football at Michigan State University today.
What he couldn't have forecasted was the road that would lead him to this moment after verbally committing last spring.
Bullough, a Traverse City St. Francis senior, broke his right collarbone midway through the regular season and didn't play again. Fully healed for basketball, he then broke his left wrist in practice before the Gladiators tipped off the season.
"It's been frustrating, but I learned a lot from it," Bullough said. "In football when I got hurt, it was tough at first. But I tried to be like a coach. I learned a lot from coach (Greg) Vaughan and tried to teach the other guys."
While things haven't gone as planned, the end result will be the same today when Bullough officially becomes a member of Michigan State's 2012 recruiting class. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder will play outside linebacker for the Spartans. His older brother Max is currently the starting middle linebacker at Michigan State.
"They were supportive through the whole thing," Bullough said. "They were calling to check up on how I was doing and giving me advice on how to get better. They were saying these injuries aren't that big of a deal. They've got guys that are hurt all the time. So they told me what I needed to get through it and get better before I come down this summer.
"I don't believe it's like that at every school. That's why I think State is so much different than a lot of schools. They're so loyal. Everyone's treated like family there."
Bullough is on his way to a full recovery. He had the cast on his wrist removed last week.
"We took some x-rays when I got it off, and it healed a lot better than we actually thought," he said. "It's been feeling good. I've got a splint I wear when I'm lifting for the next week, but other than that, I can do whatever I want."
Workouts will be a big part of Bullough's schedule for the next few months.
"There's a lot of weight lifting involved," he said. "I'm doing lifts every single day. I've got a couple of buddies working with a trainer a couple of days a week. And next month, we're going to be doing a lot of running stuff. We'll definitely be busy. Not playing basketball, people think I'm just sitting around and not doing anything. But I'm probably doing more now without basketball."
Today, though, Bullough will take it all in during National Signing Day.
"It's exciting," Bullough said. "I talk to the other commits all the time and we're all excited. Just because we've been recruits for so long, we've always been looking on to what it'll be like. Now, we're actually going to be a part of it. In a few months, we'll be down there. (Today) is just that first stepping stone to becoming a Spartan and getting on the field."
As one of the first commits for Michigan State's recruiting class, Bullough has been able to help draw other players to Michigan State.
"We'll be watching (today), but we have a pretty good idea of what we're going to get and what we have," Bullough said. "It'd be nice to get one more commit, maybe two. But I'm happy with what we've got and we can definitely work with it."