We knew it was decision time for LJ Scott. We just didn’t know when the decision would be made. After running three straight years with the Spartans, fighting through the highs and the lows and – in this year’s case – somewhere in the middle, Scott has announced that he will remain with the program for his senior year following MSU’s 42-17 Holiday Bowl win against Washington State.
Scott exploded on the scene his freshman year in 2015. The talk of the town was replacing star running back Jeremy Langford. With so many new faces in the backfield, how well would the Spartans run the ball?
As it turns out, pretty darn well. Madre London and Gerald Holmes made big impacts early in the year, but by the end it was all Scott. He finished the year with 699 yards on 149 carries, an impressive feat for a true freshman. But his true legacy-building moment came in the 2015 Big Ten Championship Game, where Scott lunged into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown against Iowa with seconds remaining.
Scott’s first year couldn’t have gone much better. His Iowa run propelled the Spartans to a Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff appearance. He already established himself as the feature back for the following season and it seemed as if Scott was on top of the world.
But 2016 was a woeful year for every Spartan player, and Scott was no exception. Statistically speaking, it was his best season with 994 yards on 184 touches with 5.4 yards per carry. But Scott’s success on the field certainly did not translate into many wins. 2016’s 3-9 trainwreck was a year Scott wanted to put in the rear-view mirror.
2017 rolled in and no one was quite sure what to expect. Scott was once again the featured back, but early fumbles made him difficult to trust. He also battled injuries in the middle of the year, causing him to miss the Michigan game. But contests like Minnesota and Maryland were constant reminders of his potential.
Scott ran for a combined 351 yards in those two games. His power and physicality matched with patience and vision re-affirmed his status as the No. 1 back with a sliver of Le’Veon Bell running through his veins. At the beginning of 2017, some referred to Scott, Holmes and London as a “three-headed monster.” But by the end, it was obvious that this “monster” only had one head. Even when he didn’t start, Scott always owned the backfield.
Scott commanded the ground in the Holiday Bowl and finished the game with 110 yards on 18 carries. He finished the year with 898 yards on 201 carries. He has 2,591 career rushing yards, and should easily crack the top-10 for most MSU career rushing yards in 2018.
2017 was the year of the comeback. This year’s senior class, headlined by Brian Allen, Chris Frey and Demetrius Cooper will be forever memorized as the “comeback kids.” Had Scott left, this tag would’ve referred to him as well. But instead, he’ll look to build a new legacy. This year’s goal was simply to improve upon last season’s catastrophe. But now, the goal is to compete for a national championship. Scott coming back makes 19 of 22 starters back in 2018 and inches Michigan State towards that goal.