Michigan State football

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Michigan State football: Elijah Collins is the epitome of a ‘Spartan Dawg’

Elijah Collins has given his all to this Michigan State football program. He’s the epitome of a “Spartan Dawg.”

After Saturday’s Michigan State football loss to Indiana, which was the worst in the Mel Tucker era, it is understandable to want to forget everything that happened. This game pointed out many issues that need to be fixed but it also showed that this team has some Spartan Dawgs and Elijah Collins is one of them.

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: 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.

In order to understand why he should not be, Elijah’s whole journey will have to be looked at.

Collins first stepped on the scene at Michigan State in 2019. Michigan State was looking for a running back as LJ Scott was no longer on the team. For those that remember the 2019 season, it was a frustrating year 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 the 2019 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 it because it took Cassius Winston’s last chance to win a national title away. Would Cassius and the basketball team have won the national championship? 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 the fact that Mark Dantonio retired and Mel Tucker took over. This not only impacted the team but it also 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 Kenneth Walker III was transferring from Wake Forest to Michigan State. The excitement for Kenneth 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 running for just 102 yards last year.

With Walker going to the draft, was 2022 the year where Elijah can 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? Sadly, the answer seemed like it was transfer running back, Jalen Berger.

While Berger has been the starting running back all year, Elijah has had a very solid season which included a performance against Indiana, where he ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns on senior day. These were the types of performances that Elijah was having back in 2019. This type of performance is 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 this 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 Collins is a good running back that just never got a chance.

The reason 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.

While it was senior day, Elijah still has a chance to come back to Michigan State or transfer if he would like as he has one more year of eligibility, but if he does not come back, Elijah should be remembered for sticking it out and waiting for his time to shine which is part of the reason why he is a true Spartan Dawg.

Michigan State football

© Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State football: It’s time to give Elijah Collins a shot as RB1

After watching him have success every time he’s put into a Michigan State football game, it’s time to give Elijah Collins a real shot.

Another tough loss is in the books for Michigan State football and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to come up with anything nice to say.

But there actually have been some bright spots recently and the Maryland game gave us all one that we could probably each agree on: Elijah Collins deserves more carries.

For the first time in two games, Collins got some carries and actually finished second behind Jalen Berger in touches and still led the team in yards with 36. He added a touchdown and averaged over 7.0 yards per carry.

Collins looked like a much different runner than we saw last year and even in 2020 when he was going through COVID-19 himself.

This run gave us all flashbacks to that 2019 redshirt freshman season when he exploded onto the scene:

Collins immediately saw that there was nothing open up the middle and cut to the left before making two guys miss and crossing the goal-line for the game-tying score.

How did so many quit on this kid after his breakout year in 2019? He struggled with COVID-19 and everyone just jumped ship. And yet he’s been keeping his head down and working.

In just five carries against Maryland, he looked like the best running back MSU has seen in three weeks.

And yet Collins has just 14 carries all season. That needs to change.

Though it’s a small sample size, Collins is leading the team in yards per carry at 6.7 and he has been the most efficient runner. He’s made the most of his limited carries. It’s time to make sure they’re no longer limited.

Collins hasn’t gotten a ton of touches over the past two years and yet he’s been really good when he plays. He averaged 5.7 yards per touch on 18 carries last year and is approaching 200 yards over the past two seasons with three scores on 32 attempts. Not too shabby.

With Berger and Jarek Broussard really struggling to get any momentum in the run game, leading to Michigan State’s offense to become one-dimensional, it’s time to give it some juice with Collins.

We’re at the point in the season where making changes can’t hurt.

Collins would be a positive and welcomed change.