After a breakout freshman season a year ago, Josiah Scott is expected to be one of the anchors for one of the Big Ten’s cornerback pairings, alongside Justin Layne, in 2018.
But the Spartans will have to wait before seeing him take the field this fall as Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio indicated that Scott will approximately two months due injury.
With the loss of Scott for at least the first month of the college football season, Michigan State will again look to some of its younger players to fill the void left by a Freshman All-American, who started 10 games as a freshman a year ago.
At Michigan State Football Media Day, Mark Dantonio addressed Scott’s injury and cited his team’s depth at the position as a reason not to be concerned and a talented group of underclassmen, who could potentially see the field during Scott’s absence.
“Josh Butler has played a lot, I've been very impressed with Kalon Gervin, been impressed with Tre Person, as well,” he said. “Shakur Brown is another guy that is a redshirt freshman that I've been impressed with, as well. We'll be alright. We'll have five or six, and the two guys that just got here, Davion Williams and Chris Jackson, are very good players. You know, really when you're looking at freshman out there, you're asking yourself: How is our freshmen, where do you see their future and can they play at this level. Every one of the defensive backs we talked about could play at this level and should be very good players for us.”
As a freshman, Scott led the Spartans with 10 pass break-ups and 12 passes defended and also recorded two interceptions in 2017. The most likely player to have the first opportunity to assume play time with Scott sidelined is sophomore Josh Butler, who appeared in all 12 games a season ago.
With a key member of the Spartan defense on the shelf for the start of the season another key returner for Michigan State, Kenny Willekes, echoed what his coach had to say and is confident that the depth of the secondary with help the Spartans through the early part of the schedule.
“We obviously have depth in every position, bringing so many people back,” he said. “Josh Butler is a guy that can play there. We have confidence in Josh Butler. Kalon Gervin, a true freshman, he’s looked good throughout the spring, and Shakur Brown, he’s balling out there. You know we have guys who can step up, someone goes down, and I have confidence in Josiah that he will take his rehab seriously, and he’ll be back with us real shortly.”
With a number of inexperienced underclassmen in the mix to see the field early this fall, it will put additional pressure on some of the more experienced members of the secondary to step up both in terms of performance, as well as in leadership in 2018.
First year secondary coach Paul Haynes noted that the key returners in the secondary, Khari Willis, David Dowell, Justin Layne and Josh Butler have already proven to be excellent leaders in practice and added that the group has helped make his job easier.
“Yeah, and I think all of those guys, You look at David Dowell, Josh Butler and Justin Layne, all of those guys,” he said. "They have done an awesome job when they are not in and our young guys are out there. They are coaching those guys up. It is easier for me to sit back there and know that. They are not there joking around; they are over there coaching those guys.”
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