Justin Layne poised to help replenish MSU’s receivers
East Lansing — Michigan State is losing its share of wide receivers after the 2015 season, so it’s no surprise that position will be targeted heavily by coach Mark Dantonio for the 2016 class.
With seniors Aaron Burbridge, Macgarrett Kings Jr., DeAnthony Arnett and AJ Troup all preparing for their final season, the Spartans have already landed two four-star commitments for next spring’s class.
Cameron Chambers of Sicklerville, N.J., committed last August, but at the spring game last weekend, he was joined by Justin Layne of Cleveland (Ohio) Benedictine. Layne is the top-rated receiver in the state of Ohio and many believed he was headed to Ohio State.
But he knew, even before he arrived in East Lansing last Saturday, that Michigan State was where he wanted to be.
“I just kept telling my dad it feels right for me,” Layne said Thursday on “The Drive with Jack Ebling” on 92.1 in Lansing. “It was my gut feeling and I went with it. I went on the field and called Coach D by himself and told him I’m ready to be a Spartan.
“My decision came down to what school puts me in the best position to be successful and where I feel the most comfortable. And the family aspect — my high school, Benedictine High School in Cleveland, Ohio — I mean it’s all about family and tradition. I feel like Michigan State was similar to what I have right now.”
Odds are Ohio State won’t give up on Layne, but he said there has been little contact with the Buckeyes recently.
“Some people were shocked but everybody understood the reason why and everybody just supported me,” Layne said. “Actually I have not talked to Ohio State lately, even before I committed.”
Layne (6-foot-3, 180 pounds) is the 28th-rated receiver in the nation, according to 247sports.com, and he already has forged a relationship with Chambers and quarterback Messiah deWeaver, who committed to Michigan State last week.
“Actually me and Messiah, we talk almost every day,” Layne said. “I know we talk at least once a week and me and him have built a relationship. He is a good leader and I look forward to playing with him in the next couple of years.
“We all talk about getting better, what camps we’re going to. We all follow each other on Snapchat and when we work out we record some drills that we’re doing and just all push each other to do better.”
And Layne has no problem competing with other top receivers.
He and Chambers are top prospects, but the Spartans have their eyes on other big-time receivers, including Detroit Martin Luther King’s Donnie Corley.
“Of course everybody says they want to get their own, but we’re not thinking about that,” Layne said. “We are just thinking about making the best push for a national championship and being the best team we can.”
Layne said he won’t be able to enroll early and will spend his senior season trying to be a better route runner, adding, “I’m pretty sure at the next level I can’t get away with the stuff I do now.”
And he’ll be putting in plenty of time recruiting others to join a class that now stands at seven players.
“Michigan State has always been a great program, so that is a given,” Layne said. “If you want to play for a team or coach that treats you like a family, like your son, then I say play for Michigan State. No other school treated me like how they treated me coming in, just open. I love the coaching staff and love it there.”