MSU's Waynes refuses to tip hand if he's leaving early

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes insists he doesn't pay attention to reports about whether he'll return for his senior season.

One thing the junior is clear about is he has yet to make a decision.

"I haven't really thought about it," Waynes said. "The main thing I'm thinking about is sending out the seniors with a win and hopefully finish in the top five again for another year."

Michigan State will have that chance when it faces Baylor in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1. And as important as Waynes will be to Michigan State's chances of slowing down one of the best offenses in the nation, his next move will be just as important.

He is consistently rated as a first-round pick by most analysts, and a report from Yahoo Sports said Waynes was "considered to be a lock to enter the 2015 NFL draft, according to multiple sources familiar with the underclassman's thinking."

Waynes dismissed the report.

"That is something I have to discuss with my family and my coaches and we'll go from there," he said. "I haven't really talked about it with the coaches yet. My family is coming up (today) and we'll probably sit down with them and figure things out from there, but it is not really a concern for me right now."

Waynes was named first-team all-Big Ten while earning second-team All-American honors from Walter Camp and third-team from the Associated Press. He was also a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the top defensive back in the nation.

He also has helped the Spartans rank fourth in the FBS in passing efficiency defense (102.9 rating) and 25th in passing defense (196 yards). Waynes is sixth on the team with 43 tackles, second with a career-high seven pass break-ups and has three interceptions.

"I like Trae Waynes a lot," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said last week. "He's got a chance to be the first cornerback — if not the first, the second cornerback off the board. He's at 23, had a real good finish to the year. I think you look at a guy that could be in the late first-round category, maybe even mid-first round. Because cornerbacks, there's not a lot of them this year early, he might get forced up a little bit."

Defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett, who played seven season in the NFL, said he hasn't discussed the possibility with Waynes. But he assumes he will, and when that happens, he'll tell him the same thing he has any of his players in a similar position.

"A lot of guys' goal is to go on and play in the NFL when they come to college," Barnett said. "It is a great goal to have and it should be a goal, to maximize your ability and be the best you can be. ... I encourage them to do it if it is the right thing for you and your family."

Waynes said there is plenty at play in his decision.

"It's not just up to me, it's a whole family thing and obviously school is a factor as well because I do want to graduate," Waynes said. "So there's a lot other issues than just my own personal decision."

Waynes is on schedule to graduate in the spring with a degree in psychology, but insisted his goals the next few weeks remain centered on the team.

"I don't pay attention to it," he said. "I just go by what people tell me. But I still try to stay away from it because I don't want it to be a distraction from our goal ahead.";

News wire services contributed