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Michigan State football: Elijah Collins will always be a Spartan Dawg

Elijah Collins may be transferring, but he’s forever a Spartan Dawg.

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Michigan State football
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Elijah Collins has officially entered the transfer portal, leaving a lasting legacy with Michigan State football.

After a forgettable Michigan State football game against Indiana, which was the worst loss in the Mel Tucker era, it is understandable to want to forget everything that happened. That football game pointed out many issues that need to be fixed but it also showed that the 2022 team had some Spartan Dawgs and Elijah Collins was one of them.

On Wednesday, the veteran running back decided to hit the transfer portal, but he’ll forever be considered a Spartan Dawg for what he did for the MSU football program.

When you think of the term “Spartan Dawg” you may think of the hardest-working players or some of the best players to ever see the field at Michigan State. Some of the names that you might think of are Kirk Cousins, Connor Cook, Kenneth Walker III, and maybe even Xavier Henderson. These are just a few of the many amazing football players that Michigan State has had but this article is about one of them: Elijah Collins.

If you look at all the players this article has named, Collins is the most likely player that will be forgotten years down the road but he should not be forgotten. In order to understand why he should not be, Elijah’s whole journey will have to be looked at.

Elijah first stepped on the scene at Michigan State in 2019. That year, Michigan State was looking for a running back as LJ Scott was no longer on the team. For those who remember the 2019 season, it was a frustrating season that ended with a win over Wake Forest in the Pinstripe Bowl. Collins made going to a bowl possible with his ability to find the open hole and make plays all over the field. In that season, he ran for just under 1,000 yards and five touchdowns. While Elijah did not score much that season, it looked like Michigan State might have found its future running back.

Next was the season that no one ever saw happening, the COVID-19 season. There were many things that were canceled or affected because of Covid. Michigan State fans will especially never forget COVID-19 because it took Cassius Winston’s last chance to win a national championship away. Would Cassius and the basketball team have won the national title? That question will never be answered but it also affected the football team and Collins.

Another big impact on Elijah and the football team was Mark Dantonio’s sudden retirement and the hiring of Mel Tucker. This not only impacted the team but it especially impacted Collins. After a great 2019 season, Elijah only ran for 90 yards that season and zero touchdowns. While this was the season no one wanted, 2021 was just around the corner.

The 2020 season ended with no bowl game and just a few weeks after the season, it was announced that Walker was transferring from Wake Forest to Michigan State. The excitement for K9 to come to Michigan State was felt but it meant that Elijah’s season again was going to be impacted. No Michigan State fan would have expected the season that Walker had, but when you have a transfer coming in at the position you play, it does impact things. It led to Elijah rushing for 102 yards last year. With Walker going to the draft, was 2022 the year in which Elijah could be the RB1 again?

Like in 2019, Michigan State again had a question mark at the running back position without Walker. Would this be like 2019 when Elijah took over the team at the running back position? The answer seemed like it would be transfer running back, Jalen Berger. While Berger was the starting running back all year, Elijah had a very solid season which included a performance against Indiana, where he ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns on senior day. This was the type of performance that Elijah was having consistently back in 2019.

This type of performance was the reason why Elijah is a Spartan Dawg.

Having one game where a running back runs for over 100 yards does not make you someone that should be remembered. The reason why this situation is different is because of what the Indiana game meant especially when you put Elijah’s whole career in picture.

In a world where many players leave when they do not get a chance, Elijah never did. After the transfer portal started, no one would have blamed Elijah if he transferred but again, he didn’t. Michigan State fans know that Elijah Collins is a good running back that just never got a chance. The reason why Elijah Collins is that “Spartan Dawg” is because he stuck with the team and because of that he finally got the game he very much deserved on senior day. 

This decision to finally transfer is expected and celebrated by Michigan State football fans because Elijah deserves that shot and I can bet Tucker wanted this for him.

FOOTBALL

Jayden Reed, Bryce Baringer both win weekly Senior Bowl practice awards

Bryce Baringer and Jayden Reed have made a big impression.

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Jayden Reed
© Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Both Jayden Reed and Bryce Baringer earned awards during this week’s Reese’s Senior Bowl practices, voted on by teammates.

What a week it’s been for former Michigan State stars Jayden Reed and Bryce Baringer.

It all started with videos surfacing at the Reese’s Senior Bowl of Reed absolutely cooking defenders in one-on-one drills. He was the favorite receiver prospect at the event of many NFL draft experts as they were raving about the Spartan wideout.

Then we heard about Baringer just booming punts left and right as one attendee at the event said that he’s a “top five player” at the Senior Bowl.

Both players saw their NFL draft stock rise drastically this week which is the sole purpose of the Senior Bowl and you love to see former Michigan State stars play the way we’ve all seen them play during their time in East Lansing. We know that Reed and Baringer are both elite-level players and now the rest of the country is realizing that.

On Friday, teammates were able to vote for practice players of the week, and Baringer, unsurprisingly, was named the National team’s special teams practice player of the week.

As if that wasn’t enough to make MSU fans proud, Reed was named the National team’s receiver practice player of the week, voted on by his defensive back teammates (who he’s been cooking all week).

It’s good to see both of these guys showing out with NFL draft stock on the line and this is what you get from Reed when he’s healthy. We didn’t get to see a fully healthy Reed all season long so he took a step back in terms of production, but before the season, he was considered an All-American candidate. Now everyone is seeing why that was.

As for Baringer, this is proof that he should have won the Ray Guy Award. The dude has a rocket for a leg.

Two NFL teams (or one) are going to get some steals in Reed and Baringer.

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Jayden Reed believes Keon Coleman is a top 10 receiver in the nation

Jayden Reed has high praise for his former teammate.

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Keon Coleman
© Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Jayden Reed has been making headlines left and right lately, but this time it’s for praising a now-former teammate in Keon Coleman.

Jayden Reed was supposed to be one of the best receivers in college football this past season but injuries and inconsistent quarterback play prevented that. Instead, Michigan State’s receiving corps was led by Keon Coleman.

The sophomore wideout finished the season with 58 catches for 798 yards and seven touchdowns. He had some breakout performances along the way.

Coleman, who was expected to be a star in the green and white, lived up to his potential but it feels like he’s just scratching the surface.

Earlier this offseason, there was a way-too-early preseason All-American team posted on Twitter and Coleman wasn’t listed. He quote tweeted it as if to say “OK, just watch.”

Confidence is brimming in Coleman and his teammates apparently have that same confidence in the star receiver.

Pro Football Focus posted its list of the top 10 returning receivers for the 2023 season and there was no Coleman in sight. Reed took offense to that.

Clearly Coleman is just going to have to fly under the radar this season. He was already underrated heading into his sophomore year because he didn’t do a ton as a freshman, but he proved why that was a mistake.

And now, he’s going to have to prove himself again just like his teammate (Reed) has had to do multiple times throughout his career.

Maybe it’s just a Michigan State thing.

Do I think Coleman should be considered a top 10 receiver in college football after finishing with 800 yards and seven scores? Probably not. But do I think he’s capable of being a top 10 receiver in the nation? Absolutely.

Heck, if Jayden Reed thinks Coleman is a top 10 receiver in college football, so do I. The dude knows a thing or two about being elite.

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Jayden Reed’s NFL draft stock skyrocketing at Reese’s Senior Bowl

This dude can flat-out ball.

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Jayden Reed
© Nick King / USA TODAY NETWORK

If you’re looking for a player to buy major stock in during the NFL draft process, you won’t have to look far. It’s Jayden Reed.

Jayden Reed is having himself one heck of a week.

Receiving a Reese’s Senior Bowl invite following a somewhat disappointing 2022 season, Reed knew that he was going to have to prove himself again.

Prove himself he has.

Through two Senior Bowl practice sessions, he has been one of the top players on the field and he’s been turning heads left and right. His NFL draft stock has gone from Day 3 pick to potential Day 2 selection with how well he’s performing.

Marcus Mosher, a Pro Football Focus writer, has been hyping Reed up all week long and he posted this clip on Wednesday of every one-on-one rep from his first two days of Senior Bowl practice.

And it’s impressive.

Mosher hasn’t been the only one in attendance that’s been high on Reed. In fact, basically everyone at the practices has been saying he’s the best receiver there.

Reed has been outperforming every other wideout invited to the Senior Bowl so far.

This comes as no surprise to anyone who watched him at Michigan State when he was fully healthy. Reed was able to make defenders look silly for a couple of years and until he started really battling injuries, he was dominant. He was Payton Thorne’s go-to target — although the two weren’t really on the same page a ton in 2022.

We’re now seeing what Reed looks like when he’s healthy, rested, and motivated.

And it’s scary.

Reed torched secondaries throughout the 2021 season — ask Michigan, Penn State, and Pitt — and finished that year with over 1,000 yards and some really cool Moss-ing highlights. But then he suffered a freak injury in 2022 and he and Thorne could never really get on the same page.

Now, he’s showing why he was a top receiver in college football before the season. He’s looking like his old self again.

The result? A massive jump in NFL draft stock.

It’s going to be fun to watch Reed on Sundays.

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