San Diego — Michigan State got its 10th victory on Thursday night at the Holiday Bowl, but it added another win afterward.
That’s when junior running back LJ Scott said he’s returning for his senior season, fresh off a 110-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Spartans’ 42-17 victory over Washington State.
“I’ll be back here next year ready to celebrate with these boys again,” Scott said on the field as Michigan State hoisted the championship trophy.
Scott, who capped the season with 927 yards and eight touchdowns, was contemplating an early jump to the NFL. However, he said it was the best decision for himself and was aided by the fact he believes great things are still ahead for Michigan State.
“It’s a better decision for myself, but not only myself, I feel like we will have a great team next year,” Scott said. “We’ve got a bright future and huge sense of good things (to come). With how much hard work we put in, the blood, sweat and tears with this team. I can’t leave them early. I gotta come back.”
Scott’s return means the Spartans will again have plenty of depth at running back as Madre London will be back for his senior season and freshman Connor Heyward got his feet wet this season. There’s also freshman Weston Bridges and incoming freshmen Elijah Collins and La’Darius Jefferson.
Spartans beat reporter Matt Charboneau breaks down Thursday's win, what it means for the program moving forward and other news following the bowl game. Matt Charboneau, Detroit News
But Scott is the key and his return is much like 2015 when quarterback Connor Cook and defensive end Shilique Calhoun came back for their senior seasons and the Spartans reached the College Football Playoff.
Coach Mark Dantonio knew what Scott was planning but didn’t want to be the one to announce it.
“That's good for me to hear, certainly,” Dantonio said. “We talked, we did have a talk but that was be not for me to say, or for me to say to anybody else. So, I kept it quiet and let him go forth. I think it's important to note that LJ Scott had a 3.5 grade point average this semester. He's on track to getting his degree, and leaving early would put that on hold a little longer.
“I think he could be a tremendous tailback, a guy that we can hand the ball to 250 times and do great things, much like when Shilique Calhoun and Connor Cook made the decision to come back. They followed with a ring, a Big Ten championship ring and I think those things become possible. We have an established tailback coming back and he's a special player.”
Scott didn’t say when he decided to return, but teammate Felton Davis gave some insight.
“I already knew he was coming back, because Michigan State is a great place, you know, and people say that a lot about schools,” Davis said. “But Michigan State is a great place and I knew he loved everybody that's here. We had unfinished business, let alone his individual stats but team goals, you know. We had a lot of unfinished business to take care of, so I knew he would come back and he told me that after the Minnesota game.”
Scott said his next step is to start preparing for 2018.
“The first thing is I’ll probably work on everything, all around,” he said. “I’ll start with eating right, my health, my speed and find a way to get better. I’m looking forward to another great season and I appreciate all the fans.”