There has been nothing but excitement swirling around the Michigan State football program ever since early-enrollee Donnie Corley first arrived on campus. After 30 minutes of play against one of the Spartans’ biggest rivals in Notre Dame, Corley proved that the hype was real.
The true freshman phenomenon tallied four catches, including one catch that displayed his limitless potential while those were the first points of MSU’s monstrous 36-0 scoring run.
Down by a touchdown, Michigan State’s offense was sluggish after entering Irish territory three times, ultimately coming up empty each time. They desperately needed a score to get momentum back on their side.
[su_pullquote]”He played great coverage and I grabbed it right out of his hands,” Corley said.[/su_pullquote]
Quarterback Tyler O’Connor was a little shaky at first, but Corley, a Detroit native, helped him snap his funky rhythm. With under ten minutes remaining in the first half, the fifth-year senior was looking for a receiver to make a big play, and he finally found the athletic Corley, who delivered in style.
Defensive back Cole Luke was about to collect Notre Dame’s second takeaway of the game, but Corley had other plans. He ripped the ball right out of Luke’s hands in the back of the end zone to record his first collegiate touchdown in one of the most momentum-swinging and thrilling plays of the 2016 season.
“He played great coverage and I grabbed it out of his hands,” Corley said. “I was very excited to make a play. That’s something you dream about.”
The back left corner of the end zone wasn’t unfamiliar territory for Corley, who snatched a 40-yard game-winning Hail Mary as time expired in the 2015 Division 1 state championship game.
Spartan Nation finally witnessed Corley’s breakthrough game after a quiet Week 1 performance. The true freshman possesses world-class speed, a high football IQ and soaring confidence. Those traits will take him to new heights as the season progresses.
Corley came up huge yet again late in the contest. Notre Dame established a 21-0 scoring run in the fourth quarter to get within a touchdown. With just over two minutes to play, Michigan State recaptured the momentum when Corley put the nail in the coffin with a clutch catch on a crucial third down to move the sticks, preserving the 36-28 win.
When it was all said and done, Corley was the top Spartan receiver, tallying a career-high 88 yards off of four grabs and a touchdown. His heroic efforts led MSU to victory in Notre Dame Stadium for the first time since 2007.
“It hasn’t settled in yet and we’re still excited about the win,” Corley said.