Four Spartans Invited to NFL Scouting Combine

photo:  msu sid
photo: msu sid

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Four former Michigan State Spartans – wide receiver Felton Davis III, cornerback Justin Layne, running back LJ Scott and safety Khari Willis – have been invited to the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, scheduled for Feb. 26-March 4 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) is organized and operated by National Football Scouting, Inc. More than 600 NFL personnel, including head coaches, general managers, scouts and medical staff representing all 32 teams, will attend the Scouting Combine and evaluate more than 300 of the nation's top college players eligible for the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft through on-field drills, physical testing, psychological exams, as well as formal and informal interviews.

To track official results from the players' workouts, follow at www.nfl.com/combine. In addition, NFL Network and NFL.com will have live coverage of the combine March 1-4 (Friday-Monday) beginning at 9 a.m. ET each day. Scott is scheduled to perform on-field testing on Friday, March 1, while Layne and Willis will test with the defensive backs on Monday, March 4. Davis is currently rehabbing from an Achilles injury he suffered on Oct. 20 but can still attend the event to meet with NFL personnel.

Michigan State has sent 48 participants to the NFL Combine in MSU head coach Mark Dantonio's tenure.

The 2019 NFL Draft is set for April 25-27 in Nashville, Tennessee.

NFL SCOUTING COMBINE: MSU PARTICIPANTS (48) UNDER COACH DANTONIO – BY YEAR
2008 (4): RB Jehuu Caulcrick, TE Kellen Davis, WR Devin Thomas, S Nehemiah Warrick
2009 (3): QB Brian Hoyer, RB Javon Ringer, S Otis Wiley
2010 (2): PK Brett Swenson, WR Blair White
2011 (4): WR Mark Dell, TE Charlie Gantt, LB Greg Jones, CB Chris L. Rucker
2012 (6): RB Edwin Baker, QB Kirk Cousins, WR B.J. Cunningham, WR Keshawn Martin, S Trenton Robinson, DT Jerel Worthy
2013 (4): CB Johnny Adams, RB Le'Veon Bell, DE William Gholston, TE Dion Sims
2014 (4): LB Max Bullough, CB Darqueze Dennard, WR Bennie Fowler, S Isaiah Lewis
2015 (6): S Kurtis Drummond, LB Taiwan Jones, RB Jeremy Langford, WR Tony Lippett, WR Keith Mumphery, CB Trae Waynes
2016 (7): C Jack Allen, WR Aaron Burbridge, DE Shilique Calhoun, OT Jack Conklin, QB Connor Cook, DT Joel Heath, DL Lawrence Thomas
2017 (3): LB Riley Bullough, DL Malik McDowell, S Montae Nicholson
2018 (1): OL Brian Allen
2019 (4): WR Felton Davis III, CB Justin Layne, RB LJ Scott, S Khari Willis

NFL SCOUTING COMBINE: MSU PARTICIPANTS (48) UNDER COACH DANTONIO – BY POSITION
QB (3): Brian Hoyer (2009), Kirk Cousins (2012), Connor Cook (2016)

RB (6): Jehuu Caulcrick (2008), Javon Ringer (2009), Edwin Baker (2012), Le'Veon Bell (2013), Jeremy Langford (2015), LJ Scott (2019)

WR (9): Devin Thomas (2008), Blair White (2010), Mark Dell (2011), B.J. Cunningham (2012), Keshawn Martin (2012), Bennie Fowler (2014), Tony Lippett (2015), Keith Mumphery (2015), Aaron Burbridge (2016), Felton Davis III (2019)

OL (3): C Jack Allen (2016), OT Jack Conklin (2016), OL Brian Allen (2018)

TE (3): Kellen Davis (2008), Charlie Gantt (2011), Dion Sims (2013)

DL (6): DT Jerel Worthy (2012), DE William Gholston (2013), DE Shilique Calhoun (2016), DT Joel Heath (2016), DL Lawrence Thomas (2016), DL Malik McDowell (2017)

LB (4): Greg Jones (2011), Max Bullough (2014), Taiwan Jones (2015), LB Riley Bullough

DB (12): S Nehemiah Warrick (2008), S Otis Wiley (2009), CB Chris L. Rucker (2011), S Trenton Robinson (2012), CB Johnny Adams (2013), CB Darqueze Dennard (2014), S Isaiah Lewis (2014), S Kurtis Drummond (2015), CB Trae Waynes (2015), S Montae Nicholson (2017), CB Justin Layne (2019), S Khari Willis (2019)

PK (1): Brett Swenson (2010)

FELTON DAVIS III BIO
Felton Davis III suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the first half against Michigan on Oct. 20, 2018. Before his injury, Davis was leading MSU in receptions (31), receiving yards (474) and touchdown catches (4). Although he only played in seven games, he was still named honorable mention All-Big Ten by the coaches and media.

The 6-4, 200-pound native of Richmond, Virginia, closed his career as one of 30 players in MSU history to record 100 receptions (100 even). He also ranks tied for 11th in the career record book in touchdown catches (14) and 26th in receiving yards (1,450). Davis played in 39 career games, including 20 consecutive starts, prior to the injury.

Davis recorded his first 100-yard receiving game of the season and fourth of his career with eight catches for 100 yards in the victory at No. 8 Penn State on Oct. 13. Davis tied his career high with two touchdown receptions, including the game-winning 25-yard score with 19 seconds left in the game, and also caught a 20-yard TD pass from Lewerke in the third quarter that tied the game at 14. The game-winning TD catch was the 100th career reception for Davis, who was named the Spartan Offensive Player of the Week vs. PSU.

Davis got off to an excellent start his senior season with three catches for 69 yards vs. Utah State, including a diving 31-yard grab late in the fourth quarter on MSU's game-winning touchdown drive against the Aggies. During the game, Davis become the 43rd Spartan in school history to cross the 1,000-yard receiving mark for his career.

He led a young receiving corps in 2017 with career highs in receptions (55), receiving yards (776) and touchdown catches (9), all of which ranked among the Big Ten leaders (tied for third in TD catches with nine; tied for seventh in receptions at 4.2 pg; seventh in receiving yards at 59.7 ypg). Forty-three of his 55 receptions (78 percent) were for either a first down or a touchdown. He was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media and third team by the coaches.

JUSTIN LAYNE BIO
A three-year letterwinner, Justin Layne played in 34 career games, including 26 starts at cornerback (five in 2016, nine in 2017, 12 in 2018). He also saw brief time at wide receiver in 2016 and 2018. Layne finished his career with 130 career tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss (15 yards) and a half sack (3 yards), and had 24 career pass break-ups and three interceptions. He began his Spartan career as a wide receiver before transitioning to cornerback midway through his first season in 2016, but saw action as wide receiver in two games in 2018 due to injuries on the offensive side of the ball. He elected to forgo his senior season to enter the 2019 NFL Draft.

A first-team All-Big Ten selection by Pro Football Focus and a second-team All-Big Ten choice by the media, coaches, Associated Press, Athlon Sports and Phil Steele, Layne was the recipient of MSU's most outstanding underclass back award on defense. He recorded a career-high 15 pass break-ups, tied for eighth most in an MSU single-season; that total also tied for first in the Big Ten and 10th in the FBS. His 16 passes defended also ranked tied for first in the Big Ten (15 PBUs, one interception). Layne ranked fifth on the team with a career-high 72 tackles, including 2.5 for losses, and had at least one pass break-up in eight of 12 games.

The 6-3, 185-pound native of Cleveland, Ohio, played both offense and defense in the win over Purdue on Oct. 27. Layne tallied a career-high four pass break-ups and registered seven tackles in playing 64 defensive snaps against the Boilermakers, and caught one pass for 11 yards and was targeted four times in 16 offensive snaps. He was named to the Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week for his performance vs. Purdue. Layne was also named to the Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week after matching career highs with 10 tackles and four pass break-ups against Ohio State on Nov. 10.
Layne had 40 tackles, eight pass break-ups and one interception as a sophomore in 2017 and 18 tackles, one interception and one pass break-ups as a freshman in 2016.

LJ SCOTT BIO
LJ Scott played in 43 career games at Michigan State, including 23 starts, and led the Spartans in rushing in 2015 (699 yards and 11 TDs), 2016 (994 yards and six TDs) and 2017 (898 yards and 8 TDs). He finished his career ranked among MSU's all-time leaders in rushing yards (ninth with 2,855 yards), carries (ninth with 610) and rushing touchdowns (12th with 25).

Playing in just his fifth game of the 2018 season due to injuries, Scott tied his season high with 84 yards on a season-high 24 carries in the Redbox Bowl vs. Oregon in his final collegiate game. The Youngstown, Ohio, native started the first two games of the year vs. Utah State (Aug. 31) and Arizona State (Sept. 8), but suffered an ankle injury at ASU. After missing four straight games, he returned to the starting lineup against Michigan (Oct. 20) and Purdue (Oct. 27), but left the Purdue game early with an injury. He played his fifth and final game of the year in the Redbox Bowl vs. Oregon and finished the season with 79 carries for 264 yards (3.3 avg.; 52.8 ypg.).

Scott had nine career 100-yard rushing games, including three in 2017 (career-high 194 yards at Minnesota on Oct. 14; 147 vs. Maryland on Nov. 18; 110 vs. Washington State on Dec. 28). He rushed for a career-high 994 yards as a sophomore to earn third-team All-Big Ten honors, including a season-best 160 yards on 19 carries vs. No. 2 Ohio State. As a freshman in 2015, Scott scored the game-winning touchdown in the Big Ten Championship Game against No. 4 Iowa with just 27 seconds remaining to send MSU to the College Football Playoff. He was named to the ESPN.com All-Freshman Team after leading the Spartans in rushing (699 yards), carries (146) and rushing touchdowns (11).

KHARI WILLIS BIO
A native of Jackson, Michigan, Khari Willis was a four-year letterwinner (2015-18) for the Spartans who played in 46 career games, including 30 starting assignments at safety. He ended his career with 26 straight starts at safety in 2017 and 2018 and was voted a team captain as a senior. Willis recorded 196 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss and four sacks, along with four interceptions and 16 pass break-ups in his career.

Willis had a career year in 2018 – both on and off the field. A second-team All-Big Ten selection by Pro Football Focus and third-team pick by the media and Athlon Sports, he recorded a career-high 84 tackles, 10 pass break-ups and two interceptions for the Spartans as a senior, including a career-high 15 stops against Ohio State. He ranked tied for seventh in the Big Ten with his 10 pass break-ups.

Willis was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after leading the Spartans with nine tackles, including seven solo stops, in MSU's 21-17 win at No. 8 Penn State on Oct. 13. He also forced a fumble on PSU quarterback Trace McSorley in the first quarter as MSU held Penn State to then-season lows in points (17) and first downs (14).

A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Willis graduated with a bachelor's degree in December 2018 as an interdisciplinary studies in social science major, with an emphasis on community governance & advocacy. He was named a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is awarded annually by the National Football Foundation to the nation's top scholar-athlete. The award is also widely known as the "Academic Heisman."

On Oct. 24, Willis was named one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I FBS senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Former Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousins won the award in 2011.

Willis took the national stage last summer, serving as the keynote player speaker at the 2018 Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago, and delivered an inspirational speech calling on his fellow Big Ten players to make a difference in their communities. He received a standing ovation and video of his speech went viral across social media (158,000 views on Twitter; 98,000 views on Facebook; nearly 10,000 on YouTube). He was selected a candidate for the Wuerffel Trophy, presented annually to the player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement, and was MSU's nominee for the Allstate/AFCA Good Works Team.

Willis was the 15th Spartan under Dantonio to participate in the Senior Bowl.
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