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The expectations started as soon as Josiah Scott arrived at Michigan State, with head coach Mark Dantonio comparing the freshman cornerback to former MSU standout Darqueze Dennard, an eventual first-round NFL draft pick.

Scott is doing his best to live up to them.

The 5-foot-10 Scott started 11 games in his first season with the Spartans, breaking up a team-high nine passes while picking off two more. It was enough to land a spot on ESPN’s Freshman All-America team, which is a collection of true freshmen.

After a 3-9 season a year ago, the Spartans are 9-3, ranked No. 18 (No. 16 in the College Football Playoff rankings), and headed to the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28 to take on No. 21 Washington State (9-3). Michigan State boasts the ninth-ranked defense in the country, allowing 297.8 yards per game. Scott is a big reason why.

“With Scott at corner,” David M. Hale of ESPN wrote, “Michigan State’s secondary jumped from 12th in the Big Ten in opponent passer rating to fourth.”

Scott was one of five Big Ten players on the team, joining Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins, Northwestern defensive end Sam Miller, and Illinois safety Bennett Williams.